Catalyzing Open Innovation with the Largest U.S. Hackathon

Posted on Tue, 6th May 2014 by

Across the nation, small teams of innovators are using data in big ways.

In Minnesota, OMG Transit is trying to help you get anywhere in your city as fast as humanly possible without a car, leveraging mass transit, taxis, rideshares, bike shares – you name it.

In Portland, two educators are developing a service called Oyster that could one day land you – or your child – a dream job. One that you never even knew existed.

In Colorado, the D.R.A.T. team wants to help your community recover from a natural disaster by providing a real-time, central view of all civic and community resources – from services to sump pumps.

These teams have three things in common: 1) they are the young pioneers of a new data economy, 2) they are applying cloud analytics to open & personal data, and 3) they all got their start at the National Day of Civic Hacking – an event which takes place again May 31 – June 1.

Two years ago Intel Labs began conducting research and anthropological studies around data, particularly open data and personal data, to explore how to transform digital information into powerful tools to revolutionize how people make sense of the world. As part of this ongoing research Intel supported the first National Day of Civic Hacking last year. That proved to be the largest hackathon ever held in the United States, bringing together more than 11,000 innovators across 83 cities, from software developers to entrepreneurs and activists. The common goal was to invent new applications and services that combine people’s digital information with open, public data for the common good.

Digital Services Accelerator Graphic
Following the event, Intel launched the Data Services Accelerator, an incubation pipeline designed to help these innovative teams take their ideas to the next level and develop viable businesses. To shepherd the development of these services, the Accelerator provided the teams with analytics tools from ColdLight (an Intel Capital portfolio company), business mentorship, and the ability to share BKMs with each other.

This year, Intel is once again the title sponsor for the National Day of Civic Hacking. The theme of Open Innovation is broader and the scope has extended beyond the U.S. We are expanding our support by facilitating access to resources which help innovators quickly build civic hacks that make a difference and begin to incorporate the growing network of everyday devices and sensors called the “Internet of Things.”

Intel’s has a long history of supporting software developers from hobbyists to large companies. Those of you who are programmers and web developers can download the Intel® XDK. This is a free a tool that helps you easily create web-based apps for phones/tablets/PCs using HTML 5 (and publish them for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and more). If you want to use web APIs, you can use the Mashery API Network to get more than 40 of them in just a few minutes. And even before the event you can visit the Intel Developer Zone to engage with a global community of programmers and find tools, technical articles, and code samples related to the topics above and more.

The next frontier for Open Innovation is the Internet of Things. For civic hackers, emerging sensor networks will provide real-time data on everything from air quality to traffic and even noise pollution. Arduino-compatible Intel Galileo boards designed for the Maker community are a great resource for prototyping these sensor networks. Those doing so can make use of the preview-version of the Internet of Things Developer kit and the ConnectAnything tool to make life easier.

In fact, Intel will be co-hosting events in sites such as Berkeley and Portland with a special focus on open innovation with the Internet of Things. At these sites, Intel will provide free Intel® Galileo development boards and expert guidance to civic hackers.

Finally, for folks who are organizing a National Day of Civic Hacking event, Hacker League is a set of tools that make it easy to plan and execute a hackathon.

For Intel Labs, this event is part of a long term exploration of the future computing industry. Our researchers have been using a unique combination of social science and complexity theory to envision the structure of the future business ecosystem around data. These insights inform our efforts to catalyze this ecosystem as well as research into new datacenter and network technologies to enhance the infrastructure for data-rich applications and services. Together with innovators like those at the National Day of Civic Hacking, we can democratize Big Data and foster a new economy around bringing life-changing discoveries to everyday people.

Brandon Barnett is Director of Business Innovation for Intel Labs.