Hackers Invited to Solve Urban Challenges


To some, the term “hackers” conjures images of coders surrounded by pizza boxes and hunched over keyboards.


Refresh that image with one of dedicated technology professionals collaborating with business and IT planners to address profound societal problems and you have the upcoming Urban Sustainability Hackathon in Chicago this week.


The Center for Neighborhood Technology is inviting hackers to turn their considerable skills to solving urban problems. CNT’s four-day Urban Sustainability Hackathon kicks off Thursday with Reinventing Chicago, where hackathon participants will meet with Chicago’s civic, business and IT community thinkers for a wide-open discussion of ways that Chicago can be smarter, more sustainable and work better. Friday night is an evening for participants to mingle, deliberate, pitch ideas, form teams and collaborate with CNT staff and other like-minded technology professionals.


The hands-on work begins Saturday at TechNexus, 200 S. Wacker Dr., when participants put their ideas into coding action. With access to CNT staff and more than 65 sustainability data sets from the City of Chicago, developers will strive to create tools and new metrics focused on making the city more sustainable.

Oh, and there’ll be prizes. Sunday’s celebration of successes will include a judging of each team’s new tool, with the winners receiving Nexus 7 tablets.


Breakthrough Technologies has long admired CNT, a leader in promoting urban sustainability, and affiliate CNT Energy, a creative think-and-do tank that combines rigorous research with effective solutions. Breakthrough worked with CNT to develop and launch the My Home EQ website, where single family home owners can calculate their energy quotient and compare it against similar local homes. This unique online platform also recommends improvements, connects homeowners with local contractors, and reveals potential incentives.


“This week’s Reinventing Chicago event and hackathon represent an extraordinary opportunity for technology professionals to focus their talents on crucial issues facing Chicago,” said Doug Wilson, Breakthrough Technologies managing partner. “The process as well as the results of this collaborative venture will benefit those who take part as well as our urban communities.”

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