Calling All Coders: Civic Hackathon Seeks to Harness IoT Tech

For most of its 200-year existence, Indiana’s economy has depended on three industries: manufacturing, logistics, and agriculture.

Bill Soards, president of AT&T Indiana, says all of these sectors are “huge consumers” of Internet of Things technologies. Later this month, his company is hosting a civic hackathon in order to convene teams and get to work on developing IoT-based solutions to the state’s economic challenges.

“The purpose of the hackathon is to disrupt and energize Indiana’s economy,” Soards explains. “We want participants to brainstorm and highlight how IoT can help Indiana companies grow.”

The 24-hour event will be held April 21-22 at Launch Fishers, and software developers are encouraged to attend and create mobile apps or hardware to help improve their communities, Soards says. Nearly 50 sponsors—tech companies, entrepreneurial service organizations, and government entities—are backing the event, and some are sending experts to assist and answer questions. (The hackathon is free, but requires pre-registration here. Or, follow the hashtag #atthack on social media to watch the action unfold.)

Indiana’s governor and economic development organizations have recently made it a priority to push IoT and connected-device efforts in Indiana. Soards points to the new IoT lab in Fishers—and more labs are planned across the state—as proof that there is a big opportunity for both the state’s tech companies and legacy industries.

“The state is bringing a lot of data sets to the hackathon—transportation, logistics, agriculture,” Soards says, adding that Indiana’s Management Performance Hub will provide data along with the federal government and Socrata’s open data API (application programming interface).

More than 200 people have signed up for the event so far, but Soards hopes for more. He emphasizes the hackathon is open to the public, whether they’re coding wizards, back-end engineers, entrepreneurs, students, or just interested in “transforming Indiana’s economy with IoT,” he says.

Featured speakers will include Beth Bechdol, president and CEO of AgriNovus; Brent Yoder, regional director of operations for Amazon Fulfillment; and Brian Burton, head of the Indiana Manufacturers Association.

Soards wants the hackathon to lead to new and interesting products. “Hopefully, we’ll open the developers’ eyes to the possibilities of IoT innovation,” he says.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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