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.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) staff have signed off on a 428 mile fiber optic trunk project for Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties on California’s Central Coast. These approvals make it more likely that the project will receive federal stimulus money through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).
The Central Coast Broadband Consortium (CCBC) applied for grants to the CPUC’s California Advanced Services Fund and BTOP in August. In round numbers, CCBC asked for $40 million from NTIA and $5 million from the CPUC, with the remaining $5 million coming from local agencies and organizations.
BTOP grants only fund 80% of proposed projects. A special law passed by the California legislature in August allows the CPUC to contribute 10%, if proposals also meet state funding requirements for unserved and underserved areas. CPUC staff reviewed the CCBC proposal, determining that it is a qualified and viable project and recommending that the commission approve it at its next meeting on 20 November 2009. Matching funds for other California broadband stimulus projects will also be considered then.
NTIA sent all 176 California requests to the governor’s office for review. The governor endorsed 64, of which 30 were for broadband infrastructure projects (the remainder were public computer center and “sustainable broadband adoption” proposals). The next step is for NTIA to determine if the CCBC application meets its initial screening criteria and is eligible to move to the second, more intensive due diligence stage of review. That decision is expected within the next couple of weeks.
Tellus Venture Associates did the financial planning for the CCBC project, creating plans and budgets for the construction and operational phases, preparing the required financial documents for NTIA and the CPUC and developing sources for matching requirements and other funding needs. Tellus Venture Associates also managed the application process for the CCBC, identified and documented eligible service areas and, along with the City of Watsonville, Blue Pacific Computer, the Monterey County Business Council and other CCBC members, did the necessary economic and demographic analysis to support the application.
California State University, Monterey Bay was the lead agency for the application, filing it on behalf of the CCBC. CSUMB’s Wireless Education and Technology Center is the host organization for the CCBC, playing the central role in creating, organizing and shepherding this community based initiative.