Green Tech: The Future Lies in Big Data

If you only had 30 hours, what would you do to change the world? How big of an impact could you make in such a short time?

The thirteen teams that participated in the Reinvent Green Hackathon demonstrated that the next great tool for sustainability could be developed over the course of a single weekend, and have a lasting impact on the well-being of communities everywhere.

Hacking Their Way to a Greener World

Reinvent Green, hosted by NYC Digital and the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, was New York City’s first sustainability hackathon. The event, which took place June 30-July 1 at the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, attracted over a hundred developers and designers to devote their weekends to creating the future of green technology. Reinvent Green challenged these innovators to create applications and other digital tools that encourage sustainability.

The resulting hacks addressed issues such as recycling, reusability, and reducing our carbon footprint. Whether they were connecting residents to their local farmers’ market, or challenging neighborhoods to compete with one another to go green, the apps and sites developed during the hackathon aimed to creatively engage and educate the public about the need for sustainability in NYC and beyond.

How Big Data Shapes the Big Picture

The success of the Reinvent Green event shows the increasing value that influencers in the technology community are placing upon green tech, clean tech, and other sustainability tools.

For example, New York City prides itself on being a leader in Open Data legislation, which is manifested in the NYC Open Data portal. The catalog shares data sets with the public, in an effort to make the City government more accessible and transparent. Participants in Reinvent Green leveraged the data for their apps, and the City government hopes that others will be inspired to do the same.

New York isn’t the only city that’s launched a major open data initiative. San Francisco, Portland, and Washington D.C. are among the cities that are working to increase the transparency and engagement of government. (Read more about open data initiatives in other major cities here.)

The Obama Administration, specifically the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), has also made advancements in promoting Big Data by launching the Big Data Research and Development Initiative. The $200 million project brings together six Federal departments and agencies to fully leverage data to improve innovation and create jobs in the technology sector.

Increased government transparency and sustainabilty are certainly key drivers of innovation in green tech. If you’d like to stay up-to-date on the latest green tech news, follow along at TechCrunch or The New York Times.

Have you been involved in any green tech developments? Have you heard of other Big Data initiatives that are making an impact? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Chelsea Orcutt

Chelsea is the community coordinator at the iSchool, and a senior studying public relations and political science. She is interested in tech, graphic design, and non-profits. Chelsea is the co-founder of She's the First*{Syracuse}, the SU branch of a national non-profit devoted to girls' education in the developing world. Tweet her @ChelseaOrcutt.

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