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Community-Focused Mobile App Development Competition Launched

Technology giant AT&T along with University at Buffalo, State University of New York at Fredonia, Z80 Labs, InfoTech Niagara, Launch NY, United Way of Buffalo &Erie County and Hack Upstate today announced the AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge—a two-month “virtual hackathon” in which developers are encouraged to “Solve Local” by building smartphone apps that serve Western New Yorkers. Winners will receive cash prizes totaling $18,000.

The challenge, facilitated by Hack Upstate, was announced today at d!g Buffalo (pronounced ‘dig’), the newly opened co-work space on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and will run until November 10. Coders, designers and technologists can register for the challenge and get more information at


The AT&T Western 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 Western New York region.

“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 Western 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 challenge will award a grand prize of $10,000, followed by a second place prize of $5,000 and $3,000 for third place. Teams submitting applications must include at least one member who is either a current resident of the eight counties that make up the Western New York region (Alleghany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming) or attends one of the region’s institutions of higher education.

Submitted apps will be judged on their potential to impact Western New York, the quality of execution and creativity or novelty. A panel of judges made up of local tech experts, community leaders and elected officials, includes Senator Mark Grisanti (R-60th Senate District) and Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-149th Assembly District).

“Access to information is often a barrier for people when it comes to finding the services they need,” said Michael Weiner, United Way president and CEO. “We are delighted to be a partner in the AT&T Western New York Civic App Challenge because it has the potential to deliver important information, in innovative ways, to the people who need it most. The Challenge will also encourage people with valuable technical skills to join in the search for local solutions to our most pressing social issues, ultimately resulting in a more vibrant community.”

The challenge will also feature a one-day symposium Opportunities in Open Data on September 27th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at d!g Buffalo that explores community issues in the region that stand to gain from software innovation using civic and government open data. Free to the public, the symposium also provides coders, designers, software engineers with orientation to community issues, access to area non-profit leaders and opportunity to brainstorm how civic apps can be monetized to create local economic development and community service. All interested individuals are asked to RSVP to by September 24th.

Interested persons can follow the challenge on Twitter using the hashtag #ATTWNY.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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