Virginia agencies take part in first state Hackathon

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Virginia’s technology leadership spent Thursday and Friday at the state’s first Hackathon where teams from the state’s different agencies competed against one another to create new applications.

Called the Commonwealth Datathon Challenge, the competition was held in Richmond where the teams built apps from scratch using the state’s data available on its open data portal, data.virginia.gov.

“I’m challenging our agencies to think outside the box and push both the technology we use and their own creativity to the limits,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said at the event. “Getting all these folks in a room together and asking them to build something new will encourage better collaboration within our government, foster a culture of inventiveness, and prove that Virginia is the number one place for fresh ideas and entrepreneurial spirit.”

Virginia agencies that participated in the challenge included Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control, Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia Information Technologies Agency, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

The final versions of the projects started during the two days will be presented at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium on Sept. 3. The projects will be voted on by a panel of judges from both state government and the private sector that will present an award to the most outstanding agency team. The attendees at the Sept. 3 conference will also get a chance to vote for a fan favorite.

Virginia officially launched its open data portal in April in what has become a priority of McAuliffe’s administration since taking office at the beginning of 2014. The portal includes data sites from a variety of state agencies, including the Department of Education’s State Report Card on school performances, the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s database of board and commission openings and the Department of Transportation’s traffic data from across the state, among others.

In addition to serving as a central repository for open data, the site will also serve as an information clearinghouse for the state’s big data initiatives, including the new Virginia Longitudinal Data System, a project that makes use of a variety of education and workforce development datasets.

A number of Virginia’s technology leaders Tweeted photos from the event.

CIO Sam Nixon and @tonyfungVA check-in at #HackVA: VA’s first Datathon that will create new apps to streamline gov’t pic.twitter.com/zpsh71zKU5

— VITA (@VITAagency) August 21, 2014

VA CIO @SamNixonCIO, @VaDOT CIO, and Dep Sec @tonyfungVA removing roadblocks at #HackVA pic.twitter.com/DmUdwwsfg8

— Data.Virginia (@DataVirginia) August 21, 2014

Megan Charity of Deep Run High School participates in state’s first “Datathon”! She’s helping Team VITA. pic.twitter.com/FdWo7dbFga

— Sam Nixon, Jr. (@SamNixonCIO) August 21, 2014

Dep Sec of Public Safety @ThielAdam stops by team @VADOC, 1 of only 2 teams working til the end to #HackVA. #techinva pic.twitter.com/n5BIsS0JaG

— Data.Virginia (@DataVirginia) August 22, 2014

VITA’s Dataholics team is rocking the big data #HackVA @DataVirginia and looking forward to @COVITS @wiken #TechinVA pic.twitter.com/a8QsWdmM4p

— VITA (@VITAagency) August 22, 2014

Teams doing last check-ins of the day! In < 2 days they’ve gone from ideas on paper to killer apps! #HackVA #TechInVA pic.twitter.com/CEiC1Qolrz

— Data.Virginia (@DataVirginia) August 22, 2014

Great day at @datavirginia #HackVa with @r_lawhorne @VirginiaABC @vadoc @TeamDEQ @wiken @VirginiaDMV teams! pic.twitter.com/AOXeKc39Bl

— Bill Blevins (@billblevins) August 21, 2014

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