Time after time Pittsburgh is billed as one of the most livable cities. With multiple rivers, universities, and the possibility to have french fries added on top of any meal, how could any other city compete? But Pittsburgh hasn’t plateaued, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Whether that’s improving transportation or revitalizing downtown, someone is on it. Unfortunately, there are a few smaller problems that no one is on. And in a sense, that’s what this last weekend’s Thinkathon was all about; a way to bring civic issues to the surface and apply our smarts and technology to solve those issues.
The Thinkathon is “a civic hackathon to build solutions for some of our city’s most relevant challenges.” So, last weekend strangers came together to solve problems. Problems such as how to find the amenities of Pittsburgh parks; how to make it easier to see eligibility for the Pittsburgh Promise; share data with other Pittsburgh residents; or how to map art installations, bike racks, or anything.
Big shout out to one of our own devs taking second place. Thomas Harris was part of the team that developed KnowPGH, a marketplace for Pittsburgh data. Will be interesting to see how that grows in the future!
We were proud to sponsor the event and even lent a few of our staff to help guide the teams. Eric Silver, our founder, helped to put together the aforementioned Pittsburgh parks and our CTO, Peter Meulbroek, led a group that created Think Bus, a directory of bus corridors in Pittsburgh powered by user ratings. While the two projects are powered by WebKite, we sure learned a lot about our platform in this pressure cooker of a situation.
First, Eric was able to put together the Pittsburgh parks directory in a matter of hours. Which is an exciting thing to do with our platform. Secondly, Peter had the pleasure to introduce the platform to those outside the company. This resulted in some great user feedback and a better understanding of who our end user is. As a startup this sort of feedback is immensely valuable!
On the Thinkathon site they collected a number of ideas to improve Pittsburgh. This event was just a few days, that doesn’t mean a young and talented entrepreneur like yourself can’t take a crack at solving any (or all!) of the leftover ideas. Every step, no matter how small or incremental, can help Pittsburgh become a beacon of technology and innovation.