Rockford Register Star
Posted Feb. 27, 2014 @ 2:46 pm
ROCKFORD – Technology experts are being asked back next month to EIGERlab to help finish work on smartphone applications aimed at helping residents become more engaged in their communities.
Development of the apps began at the first Rockford OpenTech Challenge hosted in November at the facility, 605 Fulton Ave. About a dozen people from the Rockford area, the Chicago suburbs and Wisconsin competed in the daylong event for prize money to help them develop the winning apps.
The winning apps were Barrel Dodger, which would offer drivers information about construction so they could adjust their travel routes; What-When-Where, which would consolidate local calendars for easy access to neighborhood events; and RaiseUp Rockford, where people could post photos of broken signs and streetlights to help city officials address community concerns.
Developers are asked to come back from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 8 to finish the winning apps. Members of the winning teams are invited back, as are members of the general information technology community.
The process is the result of a partnership among EIGERlab, the city of Rockford, the Smart Chicago Collaborative/Code for America, and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition. The hope is that the group can meet regularly to tackle projects for other organizations.
“We want to let civic organizations know this is an opportunity for them,” said Jennifer Hall, who helps facilitate the information technology roundtable at EIGERlab, a business incubator. The roundtable focuses on growing the high-tech job market in Rockford and building a pipeline of employees for that sector.
“If they have an open data source, if they have a challenge, let us know. It won’t be created within the next day, but we can put that on the list of challenges.”
Hall said officials hope to launch the apps at the second Ales & Apps event at 6:30 p.m. July 29 at the Prairie Street Brewhouse, 200 Prairie St.
“The whole idea behind this is how do you help connect people who live in a community to resources and do it through technology,” Hall said.
To participate in a challenge, civic groups and nonprofits need to have an open data source available to the technologists so they can access the information and develop solutions.
Members of the winning app teams are volunteering their time, so that’s why officials are requesting extra help with the projects.
City staff members and officials from other organizations related to the winning apps will be available at the March event for questions and any guidance needed during the work time.