Hack-a-thon

Wednesday night we made our way a few miles north for an exciting evening in Philadelphia. Six teams (both solo and group entries) came out for our Future of the Commute: TrafficCast Design Challenge to pitch their innovative commuter solutions. Our panel of judges included UI/UX designers, the CTO of AAA, and TrafficCast’s leader of Product Strategy, Gil Edwards.

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The event was the brainchild of Al McGowan, TrafficCast CEO, and Tariq Hook, Executive Director of Zip Code Coding Academy. Given that TrafficCast and Zip Code now share a address, Al and Tariq were looking for a way for both organizations to engage with the community and pick the brains of the area’s top coding talent. At the start of the night, Tariq joked that these sort of “Hack-a-thon” events usually play out the same way: Take a bunch of coders, gorge them with Red Bull and pizza, and lock them in a room until something exceptional emerges. As planned, last night was a refreshing departure from that tradition. Participants, judges, and spectators mixed it up around good food, cocktails, and gelato on the 12th floor of the Curtis Center overlooking downtown Philly.

Our hope for the night was to field some simple, creative ideas we could implement into our TrafficCarma app to enhance our users’ experience. We were not disappointed. Each team brought something truly unique to the table–from carpooling features to vehicle servicing notifications. And while ideas were diverse, all remained focused on the need to keep the app beautiful, functional, and safe. We really couldn’t have been happier with what we heard and for that reason no team leave empty-handed. Our youngest participant, Dorcas Olatunji, age 15, even walked away with a scholarship offer from Tariq in addition to her 3rd place $1,000 prize. Taking first place and $5,000 was Raghav Hardas for his ideas to implement an alarm clock based on traffic conditions and to connect the app with Siri and Alexa for hands-off interaction.

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We find ourselves in unique times in the transportation industry. It’s heartening to know how much talent is out there to take on the challenges marking the future of mobility. The landscape is in constant flux and the best coders are those that stay just as fluid. Creativity and adaptability are the hallmarks of innovation and there was no shortage of either Wednesday night.

Incredible things happen everyday in the world of transportation. Follow us on Twitter for the latest and greatest.  

– Jake Ritzheimer  

TrafficCast International, East Coast Operations

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