WALL, N.J. — Marathon Data Systems brought together a group of developers at the CoWerks facility in Asbury Park, N.J. for a 24-hour Hackathon, challenging them to create an application that would help businesses and the local community in the first summer following Hurricane Sandy. The event, appropriately titled the Jersey Shore Comeback-A-Thon, was free for participants and boasted a $1,000 prize for the winning application plus $600 in runner-up prizes.
During the opening of the event on Saturday morning local business owners and members of the community addressed the crowd, describing some of the challenges they’ve faced since Super Storm Sandy wreaked havoc on the Jersey Shore last fall. Speakers included Dave Fernicola of Days Ice Cream and Just Another Days in Ocean Grove and Asbury Park, NJ. Dave described a need to get the word out to the community and to tourists that even though there is still visible damage to the shore, they and other local businesses are open for business. Other speakers included Danny Croak of CoWerks and Francis Kiernan of EdgeKnowledge in Red Bank, NJ.
After 24 hours of coding and very little sleep for most, the teams presented their ideas and demoed their applications to a number of community members and a team of judges on Sunday morning, April 28, 2013. Chris Sullens, President and CEO of Marathon Data Systems, who was present at the event and also one of the judges noted, “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. We look forward to hosting similar events in future that challenge participants to use technology and creativity to create something of benefit to the community.”
The results were innovative and impressive. The winning team, “Team Mango,” included Margaret Kim of Fort Lee, NJ, Cory Cardio of Long Branch, NJ and Gary Kagan of Sebastian, FL. The team created a crowd-sourced application where members of the community could give and receive up-to-the-minute pertinent information in the event of a disaster like Hurricane Sandy, such as which businesses had electricity. Since connecting to the internet was an issue for many during the storm, the application would include a texting component so users could update others as well as receive updates on their phone even if they did not have a Smartphone or could not get internet access. Another notable submission was from Ken Richlin from Long Branch, NJ. As the lone member of “Team Awesome,” Ken created an online wiki website for users to submit and consume local information. The site is up and running and can be visited at www.asburyparkwiki.com.
Marathon Data Systems plans to make sponsoring a Hackathon with a theme that benefits the local community an annual event.