City Looks to Tech Community to Solve Complex Challenges

Aug 22, 2017

Credit City of Peoria / Facebook

Road projects are often seen as a hassle to drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. That’s why the City of Peoria challenged developers at its first Hackathon this month to develop an app that would help users navigate the smattering of road closures and lane changes in the area. 

The Bloomberg-funded Innovation Team helped coordinate the Peoria Civic Hackathon at the Civic Center on Aug. 12, which brought together 46 web and software developers. 

I-Team project manager Peter Kobak says even though a final product didn’t emerge after the 10-hour event, he still considers it a success.

“The hope is that, we’re working to make public data more accessible and more transparent. Because the city faces a lot of challenges, and we don’t have unlimited resources, we know there’s amazing talent in the community.”

Credit City of Peoria / Facebook

The Hackathon produced several prototypes and concepts, but a seamless, user-friendly road construction app isn’t available just yet.

Koback says the City could potentially partner with one or more of the participants to make their concept a reality. Meantime, Peoria is currently holding another open-data challenge online. This one is centered on balancing the city’s 2018 budget.

“Any time there’s data, and there’s questions, there’s an opportunity to come around and try to answer those questions with that data," Kobak said. "Not every challenge can be solved with a 10-hour hackathon, but it’s worth giving it a try.”

The Innovation Team is a department of city government, funded by a Bloomberg grant, that aims to address the Combined Sewer Overflow problem.