Central New York, Community, Government, Technology, Transportation

City of Syracuse Partners with Tech Developers to Solve Road Problems

Hack Upstate developers competed to develop new ways of using the city's infrastructure data.

By Sarah Barth SYRACUSE, N.Y (NCC News) — The City of Syracuse teamed up with tech developers this weekend to break down, analyze and improve how data on the city’s infrastructure is used. The Civic Data Hackathon: Roads Challenge was a partnership between the city, Syracuse University’s iSchool, and AT&T.

The two-week hacking challenge ended at Hack Upstate this weekend. Hackers worked 24-hours straight to solve tech problems and create new products.

Some of the tech developers who took on the Roads Challenge focused on user-based apps and websites to report potholes in their community. But with such a short amount of time, some hackers quickly realized just how large the data was.

“It was a lot of data. We had data from 5- or 6,000 streets,” said Abhi-Shek, SUNY Oswego sophomore.

Abhi-Shek worked with two other SUNY Oswego undergraduate students during the hackathon to compete in the Roads Challenge.

Syracuse’s Chief Data Officer Sam Edelstein, an iSchool alumni, mentioned the challenge the data could pose in the competition.

“You drive on the roads every single day, but thinking about how is data related to the roads that you’re driving on – to me it makes sense because I’ve been working on it every day, but other folks may not know it if they’re not seeing it every day,” he said.

Ultimately, the city hopes new insights may come from this that they can use in their operation. Edelstein said having fresh eyes, and making this data public for transparency were the two major benefits of this challenge.

Submissions were due Sunday, October 9 at midnight, and winners will be selected Monday, October 17. The top prize is 2,500 cash. All winners will be able to present their ideas more in-depth to the city.