Attention, programmers: NJ towns have problems. Do you have the solution?
If you're talented at coding, programming, digital design or just being creative, there may be $8,000 with your name on it.
A first-of-its-kind statewide event is attempting to match New Jersey towns with the state's tech geniuses.
Coding for Community, which launched on Jan. 27, runs through March with a goal of solving a lengthy list of problems submitted by several New Jersey municipalities. Many of these problems can be solved with a technological tool, such as an app or computer program, that not all towns have the manpower or financial resources to create.
That's where New Jersey's tech-savvy and intelligent minds come in. Registration is open until Mar. 3 for those who want to tackle a town's need and submit a proposal.
Examples of town-submitted needs:
- Newark wants more public participation in figuring out what to do with its abundance of vacant properties. Officials would like a tool that allows the public to bid on a property and indicate what they'd like to do with it.
- Maplewood has a chronic overheating issue in the school district. A "heat" map can let building administration know when classrooms are too hot via mobile app.
- Morristown wants residents to depend less on plastic bags and needs a smart way to get this done through education, communication and a town ordinance.
- Perth Amboy has a problem concerning street light outages. Officials seek a platform that automates notifications to the Public Works Department with the proper code and location of faulty street lamps.
- Highland Park, which submitted a number of proposals, wants to know and keep track of how residents feel about the community, including what improvements can be made.
- Princeton wants to address biking safety through an app that can help people choose routes using real-time data.
"The amount of submissions from the towns has far exceeded what we had hoped for," said Lauren Skowronski, program director for community engagement with Sustainable Jersey, which leads this initiative. "Now we're looking for teams to pick these up and work with the towns to create a solution."
Skowronski noted the programming code for all submitted projects will be posted and available for anyone to adapt. Towns can submit their needs until Feb. 12.
Among other prizes, the team with the best project will receive $8,000, courtesy of AT&T. Runners-up will receive $4,000, and the municipalities involved with each of the winning teams can expect a cash prize as well.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.