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By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Hackathon 1746, the first ever hosted by the city of Rio, took place over the weekend in Botafogo’s Palácio da Cidade (City Hall). The code programming marathon for software development, was held in order to create an application that would solve four main problems: public lighting requests, road maintenance, tree pruning and irregular parking.

Rio Holds Its First Hackathon, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
A total of 78 young programmers took part in the first hackathon held by the city of Rio de Janeiro last weekend, photo by hackNY.org/Flickr Creative Commons License.

“These four points are the ones we have difficulty responding to satisfactorily,” Simone Paradelo, manager of 1746 (the call center of the city) told O Globo. “The kids have cool ideas that unite mobility and participation, and they are not addicted to the government. They think outside the box.”

A total of 78 young programmers, divided into 25 teams, participated in the event. Five coders, Nicolas Iensen, Igor Campos, Ygor Barbosa, Paulo Tavares and Leonardo Elói, won the hackathon after 28 hours with the completion of their team’s application, “Rua Aberta” (“Open Road”). The application locates open parking spaces on the city’s streets through the help of information submitted by the public.

“I know the difficulties of parking on my street,” Nicolas Iensen told O Globo. “Through the collaboration of citizens, we can use information to create a map of where parking is and is not allowed at the critical times.” For their efforts in Hackathon 1746, Iensen, Campos, Barbosa, Tavares and Elói won a R$10,000 prize and scholarships to Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV).

The term hackathon was first used during a development event held in Calgary, Canada in 1999. Over the next fourteen years, these hacking, or coding, marathons have spread throughout the world. Non-profit organizations and government agencies have increasingly utilized the events in an effort to improve their communities and to aid in city planning and operations.

“The cost of promoting hackathons is much smaller compared to what the city would spend to hire a company and develop applications” said Secretary Chief of Staff Pedro Paulo Carvalho Teixeira, who was responsible for organizing the event. “This is just the first.”

Read more (in Portuguese).

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