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Winners of Plowing Through the Data Hackathon Announced

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The winners of the Plowing Through the Data Hackathon, Powered by AT&T, were announced today in a ceremony held at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) and attended by City of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh.

Mayor Ben Walsh speaking
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh thanks hackathon participants for their work as iSchool Dean Liz Liddy and City Chief Data Officer Sam Edelstein look on.

 The hackathon, organized by the iSchool, the City of Syracuse, and AT&T, brought together over 90 participants across 36 teams who worked with datasets from the City’s fleet of snowplows. Participants included community members as well as Syracuse University students. 

Snow plowing and snow removal issues have been a significant priority for newly elected Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh, and the City’s Innovation Team has led efforts to use new technologies to improve how the City addresses these issues. 

 We are excited about the level of engagement that AT&T and the iSchool have stirred in the community,” said Corey Driscoll Dunham Director of Operations for the City of Syracuse. “I've reviewed creative and promising submissions that we can implement in our communication of routes and priority areas.”

The winners of the hackathon are: 

First Place
Dean Olin and Alex Sinfarosa. Their project allows the City to see where roads have been plowed and the amount of time elapsed since they were last plowed.


Second Place

Michael Phillips. Michael’s project provided a way for community members to easily search which streets have been plowed and at what time. Michael is a graduate student at Syracuse working on his MS in Computational Linguistics in the College of Arts & Sciences.


Third Place

Suchitra Deekshitula, Anish Nair, Ashmin Swain, Rahul Sarkhel, and Shikhar Agrawal. This group of iSchool graduate students crafted a project that looked into the analytics related to plowing - focusing on how much work the trucks were doing at different periods of time and attempted to build a route optimization algorithm for the trucks. 

The first place team received $3,500, the second place team winner $2,000, and the third place team received $1500.

“The quality of the innovative solutions developed for this challenge is extremely impressive and serves as an example of the strength and creativity of Central New York's technology community,” said Marissa Shorenstein, president, Northeast Region, AT&T. "AT&T is proud to have collaborated with Mayor Walsh and Syracuse University to host this challenge. We applaud them for embracing how technology and data can be used for social good as tools to assist municipalities to address issues impacting their residents, similar to what AT&T provides every day through our Smart Cities solutions.”

“We’re pleased that we could again work with AT&T and the City of Syracuse to make a civic data hackathon happen, and that we had the opportunity to apply the concepts we teach our students here at the iSchool for the benefit of the community,” said iSchool Dean Elizabeth D. Liddy. “I am thrilled that many Syracuse University students took part in the hackathon, and that members of our faculty took the time to serve as mentors to participating teams.”

iSchool alumnus and City of Syracuse Chief Data Officer Sam Edelstein was involved in the Hackathon planning as a member of the City's Innovation Team.

“Smart cities collaborate with the community and their anchor institutions and strive to use data to make decisions,” Edelstein said. “Applying this thinking to snow removal, and seeing the results from this Plowing Through the Data hackathon will help us get better and ultimately deliver better service. All of these projects were impressive and prove that when we release data to the public, people will take it and find creative ways to interpret it to benefit everyone.”


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