AT&T CNY Civic App Challenge Launched

September 11, 2014
Seth Mulligan, vice president of innovation services at CenterState CEO, promotes the hashtag for the AT&T Central New York Civic App Challenge during a launch event Thursday morning at the The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse.

Seth Mulligan, vice president of innovation services at CenterState CEO, promotes the hashtag for the AT&T Central New York Civic App Challenge during a launch event Thursday morning at the The Tech Garden in downtown Syracuse.

Technology giant AT&T, along with Syracuse University, CenterState CEO, SUNY-Oswego, Girls in Tech and Hack Upstate, today announced the AT&T Central New York Civic App Challenge, a two-month “virtual hackathon” in which developers are encouraged to “Solve Local” by building smartphone apps that serve Central New Yorkers. Winners will receive cash prizes totaling $18,000.

The challenge, which will be facilitated by Hack Upstate, was announced at the Tech Garden and will run until Nov. 11. Coders, designers and technologists can register for the challenge and get more information at More information is also available on Twitter at #ATTCNY.

“AT&T’s commitment to technology innovation in Upstate New York grows out of our company’s multibillion dollar nationwide investment in the mobile communications network of the future,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “By encouraging students and career technologists in Central New York to explore smart phone software development, we are spotlighting the enormous demand for developers and engineers needed to create the software that will drive our mobile economy.”

The AT&T Central New York Civic App Challenge encourages innovative thinkers, designers, artists, developers and entrepreneurs to create intuitive and novel mobile apps that address and provide solutions for social and civic issues in the CNY region. Apps submitted to the AT&T Central New York Civic App Challenge will be judged on their potential to impact CNY, quality of execution and creativity or novelty.

“There are tremendously talented student developers and designers to tap into in Upstate New York,” says Syracuse University Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina. “The AT&T Civic App Challenge offers a venue for students and community to work together to showcase the technology and innovation in our region. We’re proud to work with AT&T and our regional partners to offer this opportunity.”

The panel of judges consists of local tech experts, community stakeholders and elected officials, and includes Assemblyman Sam Roberts (D-Syracuse) and Sen. David J. Valesky (D-Oneida). The $18,000 in cash awards is organized into two separate tracks: one track for developers already working on community service-themed apps and another for developers inspired to create a new civic application from scratch. Each track consists of a $7,500 grand prize and $1,500 runner-up prize to be presented to the four winning teams Nov. 19 at the SUNY-Oswego Metro Center in downtown Syracuse.

“Integrating mobile technology with services provided by government and community organizations expands the resources available to citizens,” said Valesky. “I am pleased to participate in this challenge with AT&T and the various community partners, and look forward to seeing creative solutions from our best and brightest.”

“I am excited to be a part of this innovative mobile app challenge, it is a fantastic way to showcase the extraordinary local technology and entrepreneurship talent that we have in the Central New York Region,” said Roberts. “As a judge for this challenge, I am looking forward to learning what some of the best and the brightest of this region can create to help improve the lives of their fellow residents.”

In an effort to encourage submissions, the Tech Garden will host two community service-related hackathons and a third in conjunction with Hack Upstate. These events include:

  • Adult Literacy Hackathon, Sept. 13-14
  • Hack Upstate Fall Hackathon, Oct. 4-5
  • Hack Hunger and Homelessness, Nov. 7-9

“There is a significant number of developers per capita in Central New York and we anticipate strong participation and high-quality submissions from them,” said Doug Crescenzi, co-founder of Hack Upstate. “The Central New York Civic App Challenge is an important tool for us to demonstrate that this is a vibrant community poised to engage and cultivate this innovative talent.”

“This civic app challenge is an important component of the growing innovation ecosystem we are creating in this region,” said Seth Mulligan, vice president of innovation services at CenterState CEO. “Through this competition we are going beyond the typical seed investment by rewarding regional entrepreneurs for their ability to think creatively and adapt technologies for a common good. We look forward to supporting and empowering them as they build effective solutions to the real challenges our community faces.”

“We are thrilled to be a partner in this competition tapping into the region’s brainpower, creativity and problem-solving skills,” said SUNY-Oswego President Deborah F. Stanley. “We believe in encouraging people of all ages to embrace real-life learning opportunities, explore innovative solutions and contribute to the greater good of their communities.”

Teams submitting mobile apps must include at least one member who is either a current resident of the 12 counties that make up the region—Cayuga, Cortland, Herkimer, Lewis, Jefferson, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Seneca, St. Lawrence and Tompkins—or attends one of the region’s institutions of higher education.

“We’re very excited to have the CNY Chapter of Girls in Tech involved in this competition,” said Kate Brodock, president of Girls in Tech. “A major goal of this chapter has been to increase the visibility and awareness of the technology and innovation capabilities of this region, with a particular emphasis on our female tech talent, and this event is an excellent way to showcase that.”