Friends, coders, countrymen, build me an app


Fifty-two hours, five teams, five working apps.

Five Android app development teams faced off this weekend in the second annual Ideas of March competition at Cal State Monterey Bay. On Friday afternoon, young coders from around Monterey County formed teams and heard pitches from local businesses and community groups. They picked one and spent the next 52 hours building apps that fit the need.

This afternoon, they presented their work to a panel of judges, myself included. The team awarded the Best Overall title built an app for a small local newspaper that combined existing website content, social networks and a community news crowdsourcing feature.

The Technical Merit prize went to a group that created a binary and hexadecimal training app for the Military Cyber Professionals group. They turned it into a slick networked game. The Community Impact award was to given to the team that wrote a help app for a local computer recycler, Loaves, Fishes and Computers. The app will be given to people who receive refurbished computers and will walk them through some of the most frequently encountered problems.

The other two teams did good work too. One developed a general platform for supporting walking tours. Pre-recorded information automatically plays at GPS-determined locations. The other built an app for the school’s counseling center that provides suicide prevention information, as well as direct phone and web links to hot lines. The code for all the apps is available on GitHub

Local software professionals volunteered their time for the weekend to mentor the teams. They were absolutely key to the success of the event. It was co-sponsored by the Information Technology department and the Institute for Innovation and Economic Development at CSUMB and the Monterey Business Council.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.