Haverhill Hackathon Planned for November With Cash Prize for Winning Concept

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

A November civic hackathon is planned in Haverhill and the deadline to submit problems for hackers to solve is July 30. (File photograph)

Attention, Haverhill hackers: The city has a problem to solve and tech-savvy locals are invited to be part of the solution. In partnership with the offices of Mayor James J. Fiorentini and state Rep. Andy Vargas, Haverhill is planning its first-ever civic hackathon to take place in November, with a major cash prize awarded for the winning concept.

As Vargas tells WHAV, the event aims to bring together data-driven professionals to work for a consecutive 24-hour period to solve a problem posed by a nonprofit, city department or neighborhood group.

“At a hackathon, you’re getting programmers, developers, coders, designers—and most importantly, the people who are most familiar with the problem—in the same room to talk about the problem and then actually develop the solution,” he said.

Through July 30, local groups are invited to submit their problem for hackers to solve. City Council President John A. Michitson and Vargas will join a steering committee made up of representatives from the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce, the UMass Innovation Hub and Merrimack Valley Planning Commission to determine the winning beneficiary. That group will be put in touch with teams of “hackers” during the November event at downtown’s iHub to make the idea a reality.

Vargas explained a potential concept to WHAV that ties together the school system and local nonprofits.

“One of the ideas I’m really excited about is improving the communication and efficiency between the schools and nonprofits in the city” he said. “Tracking, for example, if a kid gets a meal at Emmaus but doesn’t show up for school, or if he shows up to the YMCA to play basketball, but doesn’t show up to school, how is that tracked to improve efficiency among those groups?”

Michitson is hopeful the event will put Haverhill on the map and send a message about the city’s advanced manufacturing potential.

“I’m trying to pump up Haverhill for the innovation economy,” Michitson told WHAV, adding that he’s especially grateful for the guidance of new Chamber CEO Dougan Sherwood, who has hands-on experience with hackathons through the Cambridge Innovation Center. “The key is to get new, younger people interested in Haverhill.”

The team to develop the winning solution at the hackathon will receive a cash prize from the J.F Maddox Foundation, and all ages are invited to participate. For more information or to register as a hacker, email Vargas at [email protected].