Developers Create Apps, Wikis, at April Jersey Shore “Comeback-A-Thon”

 Nearly six months after Superstorm Sandy devastated New Jersey, Marathon Data Systems (Wall) sponsored a hackathon to help restore the shore.

Since many businesses were negatively affected by the natural disaster, the software solutions service provider decided to gather local developers to participate in a 24-hour hackathon.

The twenty or so tech savvy individuals who participated created apps for local businesses to use both during a disaster and during recovery. The event took place on April 27-28, 2013 at the Cowerks coworking facility in Asbury Park, N.J.

Jersey Shore Comeback-A-Thon, the official title of the hackathon, commenced by providing business owners the opportunity to speak on the challenges faced since the hurricane.

These speakers included Dave Fernicola of Days Ice Cream and Just Another Day in Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, N.J. Additional speakers included Danny Croak of Cowerks and Francis Kiernan of EdgeKnowledge in Red Bank, N.J.

They expressed the importance of spreading the word to the community and tourists that their shops, restaurants and services are now open for business and available to the public.

“We left our doors open and allowed developers to come in and out throughout the day,” a Marathon Data spokesperson told NJTechWeekly.com. “At one point we had up to twenty people, by the end of the event only eight developers on three teams were still competing!” 

After ample coding and minimal sleep, the teams offered their ideas and demonstrated their apps to a number of community members and a team of judges on Sunday morning (April 28, 2013).

“We were really excited to see what the teams came up with in such a short period of time. The ideas and work generated during this event could go a long way toward benefiting the local community.” Chris Sullens, president and CEO of Marathon, who helped judge the event, said.

“We look forward to hosting similar events in the future that challenge participants to use technology and creativity to create something of benefit to the community.”

The winning team, “Team Mango,” included Margaret Kim of Fort Lee, N.J., Cory Cardio of Long Branch, N.J. and Gary Kagan of Sebastian, Fla. Their crowdsourced app allows members of the community to grant and obtain up-to-the-minute information during a Sandy-type occurrence, including which businesses have electricity. Since many people who were affected by Superstorm Sandy didn’t have access to internet connections, the app also includes a texting feature, enabling users to inform each other of their status on their phones.

“Team Awesome”—whose lone member Ken Richlin is from Long Branch, N.J.—designed an online Wiki website for users to deliver and retrieve news on their community. Prizes of $1,000 and $600 were awarded to Team Mango and Team Awesome, respectively.

Marathon Data Systems received positive feedback on this hackathon and plans to turn this event into an annual happening.

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