Hackanooga 2012, Chattanooga’s first-ever hackathon, kicks off Friday. Presented by U.S. Ignite and Mozilla, and sponsored by EPB, Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the National Science Foundation , CO.LAB, Lamp Post Group and Easy Designs, the 48-hour event will connect experienced web developers to Chattanooga’s unique one-gigabit-per-second Internet speed.
Hailing from across the nation and overseas, 80 hackers will form teams and leverage the power of the Gig to prototype apps that require high bandwidth or use big data. Potential projects have been identified in areas such as education, clean energy, healthcare and public safety.
"We are very excited to work with the Chattanooga community – experimenting, hacking and tinkering on the city's leading-edge gigabit network,” said Ben Moskowitz, media program officer for Mozilla. “We're proud to be part of the effort to create new public benefit applications with transformative potential. The work we do here will hopefully provide roadmaps and building blocks for those future apps.”
In June, Chattanooga teamed up with U.S. Ignite, a federally funded, public-private initiative that promotes the development of apps and services for ultra-fast broadband networks. As part of the initiative, Mozilla and the National Science Foundation are hosting Mozilla Ignite, an open innovation challenge, with the goal of building apps that demonstrate the full potential of next-generation networks.
Ideas generated during Hackanooga could evolve into submissions for the Mozilla Ignite challenge, which offers $485,000 in awards as well as mentorship opportunities to help get apps off the ground.
“That’s one of the main purposes,” said Kelly McCarthy, Hackanooga organizer and co-owner of Easy Designs. “Our hope is that people will make something that’s truly innovative and submit it to the competition.”
In the past several weeks, Hackanooga has partnered with Chattanooga organizations to come up with some big ideas that the hackers can use as a starting point. Potential projects also were born out of the Gigabit Apps Design Jam, a community-wide brainstorm session that took place in August at CO.LAB.
Some of the suggested apps are Chattanooga-focused, such as the “City Budget Visualizer.” The app would use advanced algorithms to help politicians – and citizens – visualize how particular budget choices affect Chattanooga’s taxes, services and infrastructure over a period of time. If viable, it could have implications far beyond the Gig City.
Other ideas include a system for improved medical self-monitoring, as well as an advanced, multi-media auction site – a new spin on eBay-like forums that would utilize video, sound, 3-D renderings and playable demos.
“Hackanooga further builds Chattanooga’s position as an emerging tech hub,” said J.Ed. Marston of the Chattanooga Chamber. “When combined with Chattanooga’s community-wide gig network, events like Hackanooga provide another compelling reason for talented developers to start taking a serious look at Chattanooga.”