NC Open Pass is a group that holds open data events with the goal of creating ‘civic tech’. In September, they held their yearly Civic Camp event, where attendees could pitch ideas for civic-minded apps that used open data.
I pitched an idea but my team didn’t win the final presentation. However, the team that won, NC Clear Path, had an idea similar to ours. The judges encouraged us to work together and the NC Clear Path team was all for it. My idea was an app that shows the accessibility of rest stops and restaurants for travelers with mobility difficulties and encourages users to add details. NC Clear Path had a similar concept but for pedestrians. Their app would use sidewalk data to plan the safest, most practical route for those with mobility difficulties. It would consider elevation, broken sidewalks, curb cuts and the like.
We joined forces to come up with a pitch for All Things Open (a big open data convention full of great workshops). This pitch was a refined version of the NC Open Pass pitch. With our pitch, we painted a clear picture of how our app would meet certain needs and how we would accomplish our goals. After presenting our pitch at All Things Open, we were selected as finalists for Datapalooza.
Datapalooza was intimidating because the other two teams had finished creating their apps and they had gathered user feedback. We had figured out how to get sidewalk data through mapathons and built the basic parts of our app, but we were still having some integration issues. However, in our presentation, we highlighted the open data we used more than the other teams highlighted theirs. I think this helped us win the finals. We won 12 months of co-working space and $5000. I was in shock but I was also very grateful that other people believed in the app as much as I did.
I grew up with people who have mobility issues. I don’t think those issues should stop them from getting where they need to go. Turns out, the judges felt that way too.