City Council collects ideas for new Longmont apps
LONGMONT, Jan 16, 2013 (Daily Times-Call - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Longmont's first idea forum for its upcoming "hackathon" was a virtual success.
In other words, plenty of people submitted ideas virtually. Not so many in person.
"While I was listening to what you guys were saying, I was putting up ideas from my phone," one man in the audience told the City Council on Tuesday. "It's a great setup you've got here."
The ideas will help fuel the April 12 and 13 hackathon, two days of volunteer programming aimed at creating an application to make city life easier. It's a type of event that's catching on across the country -- and, organizer Scott Converse noted, a start like Tuesday's is not unusual.
"The first one of these is always a little rough," he said. "The thing that scares people most is public speaking."
Even so, as of Tuesday night, the city's site at longmonthackathon.com already had 58 ideas up, some posted directly online, some suggested in person by residents or the council. Some of the suggestions included:
A real-time app to let Longmont drivers know when the train was coming through town, so they could route around the crossings.
An app to notify residents of Longmont Library events.
A city polling app.
An app to remind residents of trash or recycling collection days.
An up-to-date map of clinics and pharmacies that had flu vaccine available.
An app notifying a resident when any city work was being done within a certain distance of their home. A photo directory of city employees.
Councilwoman Sarah Levison said the directory sounded promising, especially for neighbors wanting to be sure that the person in their backyard really was the meter-reader.
Councilwoman Bonnie Finley wondered if the name should be changed, since to older residents, "hacker" might mean a criminal.
"It is the right word for this, if you want to get the people who know how to do this sort of thing," Converse said.
"You say we're trying to reach the public," Finley said. "The public won't respond because they don't like the name."
"That is the quandary of all marketing right now," assistant city manager Sandi Seader said. "How to reach different generations."
The hackathon will be held at Skyline High School. Details (and an opportunity to submit more ideas) are available on the event's website.
Silver Creek High School senior Payton Peterson had a few suggestions of his own, including an app to track City Council decisions. He also had a little mischief to add, by causing one of the large monitors in the council chamber to display "YOU HAVE BEEN HACKED!" after the following speaker.
City Councilman Gabe Santos joined the laughter before looking up to city telecom manager Vince Jordan.
"Vince," Santos said, chuckling, "change the password." Scott Rochat can be reached at 303-684-5220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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