I see a lot of ideas at hackathons that are fun but not necessarily useful, or that are useful but not solving big problems. That’s not a judgment on building things solely for fun or as novelties; that’s a big part of the spirit of hacking, and it’s hard to tackle big problems in a couple days. But the focus was a little bit different at the Colorado Code for Communities hackathon last weekend at Uncubed in Denver, where a group of hackers, local representatives and local sponsors got together to “build and improve the latest apps that bring sustainability into the forefront of everyone’s lives.” The structure of the event was a little different as well. Everyone was asked to make their source code available after the event, and instead of competing for gadgets or money, the teams were competing for mentorship from organizers PlaceMatters as well as Galvanize.

The style of the event was similar to Startup Weekend, kicking off with networking, introductions, sponsor information, and then moving on to an open pitch session, followed by attendees voting for their favorite ideas. After the votes were tallied, teams began to form. The following two days were filled with furious brainstorming and hacking, and by Sunday evening there were 5 teams ready to show off what they had built and answer questions from judges:

  • EndPoint: Get all the relevant information about the street you’re on: crime data, median housing, demographic, etc.
  • ParkingThief: Crowdsource parking demand and supply including pricing through gamification.
  • MyFairElection: Make voting on election day transparent: rate polling facilities, check in and check out, take pictures and share with friends.
  • RadRoutes: Crowdsource the quality of bike routes to use in making routes better.
  • Transit Trends: Visualize access to transit based on frequency and location and look at changes to routes over time using historic GTFS data.

The team that won was EndPoint, who ended up pivoting towards an API rather than a product, and second place went to RadRoutes. For much more information on the projects (including team members and links), photos, and more information on how to can get involved and help support Code for Communities, please read the event recap from PlaceMatters. All in all, the event was awesome, and SendGrid was very happy to be involved in a project that encourages developers to make a difference. Code for Communities even got a shout-out on the White House blog! Thanks to everyone that participated, and we look forward to seeing you at the next event.

Brandon West
As Director of Developer Relations for SendGrid, Brandon's focus is on empowering developers to build things, gathering feedback for new features and improvements, and fostering a cooperative developer community for anything that needs email integration.