Coders, marketers and environmental enthusiasts united this past weekend, March 9-10, at the geekspeak Commerce head office in Whitby, Ontario to compete in a 36-hour hackathon. Hack for Good: <CODE/GREEN> saw 10 teams develop working apps that focused on a range of environmental topics including recycling, carpooling and food waste to name a few.
The Basics: What is a Hackathon?
A hackathon is a marathon-like coding challenge, typically lasting anywhere from 24 hours to several days, in which technical developers, designers and marketers work together in teams to develop unique apps that solve a need or issue related to the event’s topic of choice. Hackathons generally end in a pitching session, in which each team presents their app to a panel of judges.
Why Hack for Good: <CODE/GREEN>?
In keeping with geekspeak’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives and the belief that being a good business partner also means being a good corporate citizen, it was clear that an environmental focus was important for the 2018 Hackathon. By inspiring participants to develop through an environmental lens, teams were able to create apps that could bring real value and lasting impact to the world and its citizens.
Teams started filing into the geekspeak office at 9am on Friday, eager to get started on their app development. With a sponsored breakfast from Tim Horton’s, participants settled into their working pods and enjoyed some relaxation before the challenge began. Opening Ceremonies included an address from geekspeak’s Tricia Williams and Isaac Wanzama, as well as Whitby MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Whitby Mayor Don Mitchell, and Keynote Speaker Ahmed El Ganzouri, Senior Environmental Officer at General Motors.
When the Opening Ceremonies came to a close at 11am, the hacking began! Teams worked tirelessly until 4pm on Saturday, taking short breaks throughout the event to enjoy meals and treats from sponsors and community partners including Tap and Tankard, Mancini’s, Signature Indian Cuisine, iThai, The Corner Restaurant, Healthy Meats and Subway.
Event sponsors also included Town of Whitby, 360insights, General Motors Canada, The Regional Municipality of Durham Planning and Economic Development, Durham College, UOIT, SourcePoint Business Group, and BMO. Community partners included QJS, Spark Centre, Whitby Chamber of Commerce, and Matrix Photography & Design.
Laptops were closed promptly at 4pm, and the presentations began. One by one, each team presented their functional apps to their peers and four judges; Christine Ball, Executive Director of EcoBusiness Network, Brian Olynyk, Lead Developer for 360insights, Jeffery Potvin, Founder and CEO of Hardboot Communications, and Isaac Wanzama, Founder and Chief Strategist of geekspeak Commerce.
After close to two hours of presentations, teams enjoyed a sponsored dinner from Tap and Tankard while the judges’ scores were tabulated. In the end, the following teams came out on top:
Third Place: Team Mountain Goat with their app “Urban Grocery” that addresses the issue of food waste
Second Place: Watt Team with their app “What the Watt” that helps users determine off-peak times to use energy and save on hydro bills
First Place and Winner of the $2,000 Grand Prize: Team Terra with their app “Terra: Trained Environment Recognition Recycling Assistant,” that incorporates artificial intelligence and image recognition to determine whether or not a piece of trash can be recycled, including geographically-specific tips around recycling categories.
See You Next Year!
With the success of Hack for Good both in 2017 and now 2018, the geekspeak team is already planning on hosting the event again in 2019. Stay tuned for information and your opportunity to register by following us on Facebook and Twitter.