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NU Team Wins 3rd at MassCEC Cleanweb Hackathon
A team of eight participants, including Deema Binmahi, CCIS‘18; Farah Abu-Arja, MPS Digital Medial '16 and Saad Qasim, MS Energy Systems ’17 won the 3rd prize in the 2016 MassCEC Cleanweb Hackathon for their app, CivicArena. Other members of the team included an MBA student from the Questrom School, an engineering student from Columbia University as well as three experienced professionals from the Boston area.
Hosted by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center in partnership with Greentown Labs, the Boston Cleanweb Hackathon was a weekend-long technology challenge, open for anyone with an interest in energy, water and sustainability. The 2016 installment was the fifth Cleanweb Hackathon, with the previous year’s winner going on to win the DOE’s Sunshot Initiative.
The event kicked off Friday, April 1st with a team formation mixer and challenge presentations. Entrepreneurs and other participants were given a chance to pitch their ideas for apps and projects. Each team had two days to create an application that addressed energy, waste, water, transportation, food or other energy and sustainability issues. The event culminated with pitches to a panel of judges from the industry and an awards ceremony.
The CivicArena team was formed on-site since the members liked one of the ideas pitched about an app to educate and engage people interested in sustainability and clean energy and help them have a political impact. The Android app, which was developed within 24 hours, featured a UI designed by Farah and programmed by Deema and another developer, with input and content from the other members.
The CivicArena app shows localized and relevant content to the user based on his preferences. Once the user has sufficient information on a topic, he may decide to take action in support of his policy stance. From within the app, he can call or email his government representatives or sign a petition urging action on an issue. Additional features like social media integration and gamification are planned in future updates.