On June 18, the Technology Association of Oregon in partnership with AT&T, Google and the Portland Trail Blazers kicked off a week-long, community-focused design sprint in conjunction with the Techlandia Summit.
Over the course of a week, seven teams of 40 individuals worked on challenges presented by non-profit organizations to address food security, child health and wellness initiatives, and the digital divide. Technologists from around the state spent five days ‘sprinting’ to put together a solution to challenges ranging from a statewide agricultural data hub to provide more insight into the food supply chain process, to an app to help youth in the community quickly navigate to a designated safe place, to adding Bluetooth functionality to an existing application that ensures isolated seniors are socially engaged on a daily basis.
Each tech solution was judged on eight criteria including ROI, usability, commercial viability and equity outcomes for the end-user.
“It is pretty powerful to see what a group of like-minded people can accomplish remotely in five days to improve their community,” said Cara Snow, chief community engagement officer at TAO. “For folks to go from an initial meeting to requirements gathering to working prototypes in such a short amount of time highlights the civic tech talent we have in the region.”
In addition to being the Presenting Sponsor, AT&T provided judges and invited students from around the country to participate in the pitch back event.
“Seeing the technology and non-profit communities come together to tackle real local issues is truly inspiring,” said George Granger, president at AT&T-Oregon. “Technology can play an important role to empower, inspire and break barriers in our community.”
While each of the solutions impressed the judges, the overall winner was Team Alchemy made up of Ed Arib, Jenna Goldman, Dannie Schumaker and Chelsea Spangler who created an application for Portland-based New Avenues for Youth.
“New Avenues for Youth is an organization that really resonates with each of us,” said Dannie Schumaker. “We were honored to have the opportunity to build a prototype that could help youth in our community quickly navigate to a designated safe place — especially during a crisis — and communicate with a trained adult.”
For the statewide agriculture data hub, Team Terrapin received honors. The Super Awesome CareWheelers were recognized for their work on the CareWheels application incorporating Bluetooth technology with special attention paid to various equitable outcomes including varying abilities, languages and UX design specific to older adults.
An honorable mention went to the South Eugene Robotics Team from South Eugene High School, made up entirely of high school students. Led by William Hou, the SERT Team put together a working prototype for the statewide agriculture data hub.
This is part of a regular guest column written by the Technology Association of Oregon in the Portland Business Journal.