What’s New in Civic Tech: Hawaii Launches Month-Long Innovation Competition

Plus, Arkansas' governor announces actions aimed at fostering tech employment growth in state, and judge dismisses AT&T lawsuit against Louisville related to clearing city infrastructure for broadband providers.

by / August 17, 2017
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Hawaii is preparing to welcome hundreds of programmers, software developers and innovators to the state’s month-long innovation competition inspired by hackathons.

The primary difference between Hawaii's event and a normal hackathon is that traditional hackathons take place over the course of a day or a weekend, and aren’t nearly as elaborate as this event. Named the Hawaii Annual Code Challenge, the event involves technologists working directly with public servants, as well as a healthy dose of prize money. The official start date is Saturday, Aug. 26.

“We invite the local tech community to join us in working toward improving how our state government interacts with and serves the public,” Gov. David Ige said in a press release. “The 2017 Hawaii Annual Code Challenge is on track to exceed the success of last year’s inaugural event, which brought together hundreds of participants with our state employees and partners.”

This is the second year Hawaii has done the event this way. Last year’s version gave rise to many successful projects, a number of which have proofs of concept that are in development and scheduled to launch later this year.

Those who would like to participate are heavily encouraged to register in advance of the competition in order to guarantee themselves a seat. The list of challenges for the developers to work on will be announced at the official launch. To register, or for more information, visit HACC.hawaii.gov.


Arkansas governor announces computer science tour of schools, state website for high-tech jobs

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be doing a computer coding tour of high schools throughout the state beginning next week and lasting through the end of the month.

This tour, which marks the fifth of its kind since Hutchinson took office in 2015, is focused on promoting the discipline of computer science, as well as encouraging students to enroll in related courses come fall — all with the eventual goal of creating broader employment opportunities for them while deepening the pool of employable technologists in the state.

Also related to technology jobs in Arkansas, Hutchinson recently announced the launch of a website that would centralize listings for high-tech work throughout the state. The site is ArTechJobs.com, and its part of the governor’s Computer Coding initiative, which requires school districts to offer coding and computer science. The new website's mission is to bridge the gap between potential employers and tech employees in Arkansas in a variety of industries, including IT, Web development and design, database administration, software development, computer science architecture, and information security.

Arkansas is the first state to create a statewide database of available tech jobs.

“The number of high school students participating in computer science and coding courses has increased almost 400 percent since we began our initiative,” Hutchinson said in a statement. “Now it is time to focus on connecting tech-savvy young people to the growing number of available tech jobs in our state. By connecting those searching for jobs with local employers, ArTechJobs.com will simplify the job-search process and keep more of our tech talent right here in Arkansas.”


Judge dismisses AT&T lawsuit against Louisville related to utility poles being cleared for broadband providers

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by AT&T against the city government in Louisville, Ky., over a law related to utility poles that was striving to clear the local infrastructure for broadband providers such as Google Fiber.

Media outlets throughout the Louisville area are reporting that AT&T brought the lawsuit over a controversial law called One Touch, which seeks to entice high-speed Internet providers such as Google Fiber by expanding the city’s broadband infrastructure. The way it does this is by streamlining the process for Internet providers to install new equipment on utility poles throughout Louisville. City officials pushed hard for this ordinance in order to ensure that companies like Google Fiber would make their technology available in the city, thereby improving local connectivity.

The new law would allow Google Fiber, for example, to rearrange existing service providers’ equipment on utility poles, instead of having to request that company to move its own equipment, which could at times create delays of up to six months.

This decision is likely to be of great interest to another major city in the region — Nashville, Tenn., where AT&T has filed a similar lawsuit that seeks to slow down the availability of Google Fiber in that city.

Ars Technica reports in depth about the factors that went into the judge’s decision to dismiss the suit. 

Zack Quaintance Staff Writer

Zack Quaintance is a staff writer for Government Technology. Prior to that, he spent five years working in daily newspapers, and another five years working in the tech sector. He lives in Northern California.