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Eugene Hackathon Targets City Livability

On Feb. 12 the Eugene tech community plans to address the topic of downtown livability in Eugene with a giant computer programming event called a hackathon. The tech frenzy starts Friday at the Downtown Athletic Club, where Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) will host Hack for a Cause.  

Joshua Purvis, the events coordinator for TAO, explains that local members of the tech community will work in teams to develop and produce ideas and concepts concerning downtown livability in Eugene “with a vision for implementation.”

Mark Davis, cofounder and managing member of CodeChops, recalls that the idea for the hackathon began after Mayor Kitty Piercy wrote an open letter addressing her frustration with downtown Eugene’s population of “travelers.” Davis says the letter stirred Eugene TAO director Matt Sayre into wondering what the tech community could do to address downtown livability.

In total, there are eight challenges, including “Parcade Arcade,” an interactive digital game to make parking garages more inviting; a mobile app or kiosk to help visitors or downtown residents navigate local businesses and resources; and an art concept pitched by the 2 East Broadway group who want to put a building on Kesey Square. 

According to Purvis, each team will have 48 hours to develop and produce ideas. However, as Davis explains, teams are encouraged to work on their solutions in advance. 

One benefit of the hackathon, Davis says, is that it will provide a central database of information about resources in Eugene. Davis explains that the apps developed by Hack for a Cause teams will have the potential to support the needs of “visitors in town looking for shopping resources, or if it’s someone who’s living on the street who needs a bed for the night.” 

He continues, “Either of those people should be able to jump on a mobile phone or use a kiosk and get the information they need.” 

The Sunday of the hackathon, judges will evaluate each project and award a winner in every category. Each winning teams’ idea will be licensed through MIT, which means that anyone can use the idea for any use, Purvis explains.

TAO’s Hack for a Cause starts at 5 pm Friday, Feb. 12, at the Downtown Athletic Club, 999 Willamette Street in downtown Eugene. Tickets are $20 for industry professionals, $10 for college and high school students and $15 for community organizers and civic leaders. Tickets are required to attend this event and can be purchased online at techoregon.org/event/hack-cause.