Private and public sectors will merge next week when Uber hosts a hackathon with the Transportation Department, where participants will develop tools to help Washington, D.C., and Baltimore citizens keep their commute cheap and convenient.
Beginning Feb. 26 in Uber’s D.C. office, teams will spend three days as part of Uber’s “Celebrating Cities – Hack the Last Mile” contest, during which they will develop apps and other tools that make it easier for D.C. and Baltimore residents to commute to new work opportunities, schools, or essential community services.
Hackathons are becoming increasing popular in the tech world. At each event, participants focus entirely on finishing a certain project from concept to creation within a time limit. After introductions and brainstorming, participants at Uber’s event will spend about 16 hours over two days coding the entirety of their project.
Currently, there is a correlation between areas with unemployment or low salaries and poor transportation options, according to the event website, a problem participants are being asked to help solve with data.
To do this, DOT, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and consulting firm Deloitte provided 64 sets of detailed data on D.C, Baltimore and the surrounding areas for the event. The information breaks down and visualizes the cities’ poverty and employment rates, local schools’ locations, health care providers, and anything else the participants may need.
With the data, the attendees will work through multiple problems, including analyzing the West Baltimore neighborhoods around its local MARC train station to see where new or existing transportation initiatives could be most useful or creating apps that help residents find ways to cheaply commute from different neighborhoods to health care and employment locations
At the end, Uber’s engineering team will choose five winners who will have the chance to present their creation to Uber’s top executives.
The hackathon goes hand-in-hand with the DOT’s Ladders of Opportunity program, a long-term initiative to promote new and improved transportation methods to different cities to create more jobs and opportunities.
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