What do you mean by "Smart City"?
Smart Cities develop and use digital technology and innovative solutions to serve a city’s population, improving efficiency and quality of life for residents.
WHAT is a Smart City Challenge? And HOW is it like a Virtual Hackathon?
As hosts, partners/sponsors, judges, and mentors for this event, we want to find and develop innovative, entrepreneurial talent and solutions that positively impact the lives of citizens, while also delivering smarter infrastructure and processes to help our leaders manage resources effectively and efficiently.
The greater DC metro area is a particularly special ecosystem for championing and incubating Smart City solutions because we are really a confederation of “DMV” (District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia) leaders in government, business, associations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and start-ups.
Like a virtual hackathon format, we invite participants to create teams, select a problem, develop and present solutions. Finalists will present their solutions to panel judges in a virtual vote, as you might have seen on the TV show “Shark Tank.”
Unlike hackathons, however, our Challenge is seeking participants with a variety of skills –general business management, technical, and subject matter expertise! We believe that a diverse team yields powerful solutions and best represents our DMV region. Accordingly, solutions will be assessed based on potential impact and feasibility of implementation, rather than a focus on the quality of the coding or the performance success of a prototype.
What is a Typical Team Structure and Composition?
Depending on the problem you choose and your proposed solution, your team might be best as a small few or a mighty large group!
We offer no constraints on team size, although we encourage teams to reflect upon needed skills, timeframe, outside constraints/time management, and the virtual format as variables in assessing your team composition.
How do I Assemble or Join a Team?
Teams are welcome to join with known friends or colleagues, and/or join our “speed networking event” at the beginning of the Challenge to help identify a problem and form a team!
Do I Have to Live in the DC Area?
No! While we are approaching this (first) Smart City Challenge with a regional focus, we welcome national – and global – participation.
We think that’s a wonderful perk of our virtual format for participants! We find that Smart City challenges and solutions frequently have broad applicability around the world. Over time, we dream of scaling this event to reach many other cities.
How do I find a Mentor?
Each team will be assigned a mentor to support the process and to provide guidance and feedback. We will match mentors and teams using team areas of interest and later their problem statement and proposal.
What is the Problem I Will Help Solve?
You will have significant flexibility in framing a problem of your choosing – provided that you have like-minded teammates who have a similar passion in the problem and finding a solution!
Many Smart City issues were discussed at our opening event on January 23, which you can view here.
Teams will refine and define their problems, with guidance from their mentors, during the second week of the competition.
What Resources and Data are Available to Me?
We will also be providing a list of publicly available resources and data, where teams can learn more about topics and use data to inform their projects.
We also plan to offer perspectives from our partner thought leaders, subject matter experts, and mentors to offer context and insight into community challenges and high-impact opportunities that need creative sweat equity from our teams!
What are the Judging Criteria?
All proposals will be judged on how well they advance equity in the region, overall regional impact, the impact on the sector(s) highlighted in the proposal, how well they foster collaboration and innovation, and if the solution is practical, or likely to be implemented. Teams should submit a 4 minute pitch video that defines the problem and describes the solution which includes a business model and strategy of going to market.
Teams will be responsible for estimating the impact of their solution based on appropriate measures for their topic such as housing units created, commute times reduced, municipal return on investment, municipal savings, energy reductions, and service provision efficiencies.
Teams must also address how their solutions promote equity for all citizens (e.g., access, participation) or an underrepresented group.
What is the Cost of Participation?
We are asking for $30 for general “admission” ($15 for students) to help defray hosting and other expenses.
What is the Time Commitment?
The fully virtual Challenge will last 4 weeks, from January 23 to February 18, 2021.
We estimate that successful teams collectively will spend about 10-20 hours each during the four week Challenge period, with the majority of that time scheduled amongst team members in collaboration with mentors.
Teams will meet “live” at the opening and closing events and we are planning to stream (and record) optional (but AWESOME!) speakers and panels as well.
Win more than $350,000 in cash / in-kind prizes, including pilot projects with Fairfax and Arlington Counties, participation in the Smart City Works accelerator, membership in Refraction, and Amazon Web Services credits!