MOVE Tacoma: A Hackathon report

A couple of weeks ago we had our junior development team participate in a local Hackathon, sponsored by Tacoma’s Metro Parks. We love getting a change to leave our office walls behind every now and then, get to know new people and expose ourselves to different technology, other data sets and sink our teeth in a challenge that help our community grow and prosper.

This is Monica’s report:

On April 14 and 15 cloudPWR had the pleasure of participating in the first Metro Parks Tacoma Hackathon – Parks and People United Through Technology, an event targeted at making parks and facilities more accessible to the public. Held at the STAR Center in Tacoma, participants competed to create an app – either solo or on a team – that would engage users while encouraging them to take advantage of parks and facilities. The winning team’s idea would then go into further development and be deployed as an app for use by the public.

The Hackathon took place over a two-day period. Sponsors, such as Esri and Trailhead Labs, gave presentations, which were both informative and a welcome break between hours of coding. The data and tools that were given to us were nothing less than astounding. Esri’s mapping platform, ArcGIS, was impressive to say the least, and something I would like to further explore.

Kevia Cloud, entrepreneur and JavaScript enthusiast, joined myself, Mathias Eichler, and Brandon Rice as we scrambled to put together a solid marketing strategy, concept, and a working demo for our app. Shadrach White was there cheering us on.

Our idea is one that I am quite proud of and something I hope to work on in the future. The app was to be a Yelp-like web app for parks and trails, aimed at individuals with physical disabilities, such as wheelchairs or prosthetics. We planned on using the ArcGIS platform to create interactive maps with trail locations and endpoints. Users would be able to find trails based on length, reviews, ease of access, and a number of other factors. Written reviews could also be posted to help aid those who might be struggling to find an accommodating trail. Kevia created a demo that allowed users to see a 360-degree view of an area, which could also be used with a VR headset, so that patrons could “check out” a trail without having to commute to that location first. In addition, we also planned to add additional features, such as park and facility events offered to those with disabilities. We named our project MOVE Tacoma.

Kevia and I stayed until the STAR Center closed on Friday night. After no more than a few hours of sleep, we were back in action to put the finishing touches on MOVE Tacoma, a close runner-up to the winner, Tacoma ROCKS!

This was my first time participating in a hackathon, and, while I was at first apprehensive, I would definitely participate again. The experience was rewarding both professionally and personally. Few things are more satisfying than pitching an idea your team really believes in, turning a few heads, and having a great time all at once.

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