Here’s a new platform for local municipalities to meet tech startup thinking — Coding for Community (CfC).

CfC is New Jersey’s first state-wide civic tech competition, organized by Sustainable Jersey — a nonprofit organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support communities as they pursue sustainability programs. And we, at Code for Princeton, are excited to partner with them and help fire up the civic tech movement in the state.

coding for community logo

About 150 coders and designers will gather at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark this weekend to find innovative ways to solve problems faced by local municipalities of New Jersey. According to Lauren Skowronski, program director for community engagement, Sustainable Jersey, municipalities from several parts of the state have already started sending details of their unmet needs. These include requests for platforms to report and track local problems; ways to map heat spots in local schools and ideas to reduce greenhouse emissions caused by leaf blowers. “We are trying to pair municipalities with innovative minds that can help them address needs in their community and set up an open and transparent channel for communications,” she elaborates and adds that the idea is to “create tools that can address sustainability or public engagement needs withincommunities”.

The competition kicks off on January 27, with an all-day event co-hosted by the New Jersey Innovation Institute at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Teams of techies will choose sustainability or public engagement related issues from a curated list of municipal problem statements and related data. Some of them might team up with a Sustainable Jersey town even before the event starts.

All the teams will tap into municipal data and develop a solution over the next eight weeks, with periodic check in calls with Sustainable Jersey coaches.

“It’s like an ongoing hackathon with potential for sustainable solutions and long term partnerships versus a traditional overnight challenge,” explains Skowronski.

AT&T is providing $10,000 to Sustainable Jersey to use for prize money.  The winning team will receive $8000 and runners up will receive $4000.  Municipalities actively involved in the winning team’s project will receive $2000 for the first-place team and $1000 for the second-place team. The top 5 teams will get an opportunity to present their project at Sustainable Jersey’s 2017 Sustainability Summit in June. Techie teams will also get incubator space for three months at Kearny Works co-working space, located in Kearny Point, NJ (halfway between Newark and Jersey City).

Besides Code for Princeton, Sustainable Jersey is partnering on this event with the City of Jersey City, Code for Trenton, Code for Jersey City, OpenGov, the New Jersey Innovation Institute, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, HackerNest, New Brunswick Office of Innovation and Sustainable Princeton.

Stay tuned for more updates as the competition continues.

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