Blog // Connect Alaska
Alaska Hackers and Non-profits Work Together to Help the Community!
Contributor: Irina Dudina
In the world of technology, it seems like there is always a problem in need of a solution. Nowadays, with the presence of so many advanced tools, techniques, and methods, some might say there is nothing left that’s new or exciting to help solve those problems. Well, there is. Several Alaska non-profit organizations have been introduced to an event where digital solutions are found in a matter of days. How you ask? Jon Bittner, Vice President of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) and Will Kyzer, Business and Economic Development Director for the AEDC found answers by starting the Alaska Hackathon.
A Hackathon is a collaborative event that brings people with technical skill sets together to solve problems by using coding to develop software, web applications, mobile apps, or databases, with an ultimate goal of helping the community. Because there are so many non-profit organizations in Alaska looking for help, the first ever Alaska Hackathon, a sponsor run event, was held back in July of 2012. According to Mr. Bittner and Mr. Kyzer, it was so successful that two more Hackathons are planned for 2013, with the first of the year being right around the corner.
For the spring 2013 Hackathon, seven non-profits and one governmental agency expressed interest in being involved. Mr. Kyzer highlighted one particular idea that he thought was very interesting. According to him, the Anchorage Park Foundation wants to create a crowdsourcing app that would be able to identify invasive plant species in the parks of Anchorage, while also giving people tips on how to best remove the plants. Exactly how this and the other apps will be made is left up to the “hackers”.
Right now, the developers (hackers) are in the process of building their teams. Then, On April 20th from 10am-6pm, the heavy coding will begin. On April 21st, the developers will give presentations on their apps, and a few prizes will be given out. This event is truly amazing because according to Mr. Kyzer, you do not have to be a king of technology to participate in the Hackathon.
“We’re looking for people of all experience levels. If you’re interested in coding but you don’t have any experience, that’s great, if you’re a professional coder that’s awesome too”, Kyzer said.
Besides the ultimate goal of achieving improvements in the non-profits sector, there is much more behind the idea of the Hackathon. Mr. Bittner says the Hackathon helps the tech companies in Alaska a great deal.
“A lot of them [companies] spend a lot of money trying to attract programmers from out of state, and what we’re doing through these events is to try to showcase the fact that these programmers exist; they are just not really centralized”, says Mr. Bittner.
He also expressed his opinion on how events like the Hackathon can eventually open many economic development opportunities in the state of Alaska.
“What I love about this is we could bring the entire state together in one Hacakthon in a single weekend remotely” says Bittner. “That’s basically the power of the technology and really why we’re doing this. As a state pulling together, we can compete nationally and internationally with anybody.”
This year’s Hackathon will take place on April 20-21 at the Mountain View Service Center, located at 161 Clevin Street. You can find more information here.
Are you a program developer with a passion for coding? Sign up here now!
Are you a non-profit with an idea for software? Sign up here now!