Frequently Asked Questions

What data will be provided?
Datasets related to key priority areas to make use of data and basic hardware material will be provided to address areas such as:
  • Health, Hospital and Patient Care
  • Government and Civic Solutions
  • Media and Digital Arts
  • Data Science and Visualization
  • Cyber Security
  • Hardware Tools

Philly Codefest will provide a “Data Description” document for participants. This document will describes what datasets will be available, the format of those data, the level of data granularity (facility, region, state, national), and the extent/coverage of the data.

Some datasets will be specifically prepared for release for use during the Philly Codefest. Developers will be encouraged to study and become familiar with the data prior to the start of the event.

Will use of this data be mandatory?

While it is strongly recommended, it is not mandatory that coders use the provided data. Developers may use other publicly available datasets.

Whats the theme and focus of the challenge?

The primary focus and theme for this year’s Philly Codefest is to develop quality tools or approaches that enable access and use of data in areas of national and local (Philadelphia region) priority, including areas where data will be provided, such as health, hospital and patient care; government and civic solutions; media and digital arts; data science and visualization; and cybersecurity, among others. With this year’s broadened focus, attendees have the flexibility to address diverse set of real-world information challenges.

The format offers opportunity to pursue multiple challenges with separate prizes for the winners in different aspects of innovation.

What are some of the solutions you think we should be building?

Sponsors and organizers of the Philly Codefest have been discussing various issues related to the “challenge” of accessing and using data, especially open source data, in the region and nationally, as well as what data exists and can be released to stimulate innovative ideas. We each have unique but interconnected visions for how to address the multi-faceted challenges of data use. Check back to this space in the future for brief descriptions of some of these visions to help inspire your thinking as you develop your project. However, do not feel constrained by concepts that will be presented here, as we're looking for any and all ideas. If you are inspired by a particular vision of how IT can help empower people, don't feel obligated to take on others’ big picture visions, as we know there are limits to what can be built within the context of this event. But if you are looking for inspiration to help drive the development of your own ideas, here are a number of jumping off points for your consideration.

  • Game-like Solutions: Folks aren't typically engaged in learning about and adopting healthier lifestyles, especially when peers aren’t—plus we make exercise and healthy lifestyle messages absolutely unexciting! We need to make these things fun and engaging for populations. Think of a parallel universe—a virtual universe. This would be an environment where folks are connected with each other (who are also trying to improve their lifestyle) and coached by knowledgeable counselors on their choices of food purchases, eating habits, exercise and wellness. The power of an engaging game, connected to social support networks, collaboration platforms and persistent communication and knowledge-enhancement channels may be a better approach.
  • Data-driven Decision Making Tools: There's not sufficient data to drive an individual’s informed decision making every step of the way. Think of persistent “dirty data” problems or information systems that are not integrated across enterprises, whether in health, civic, disaster management or a host of other applications, where the absences of rapid access to useful data inhibits effective decision-making. Imagine if every individual is equipped with a personal data tools (through mobile technologies perhaps) to tap into the public data needed in real-time. What would it be like if every person were equipped with devices that feed into their needed data sources about home, education, health or other needs? What are the possibilities? We think having access to such data will improve our decision-making. We think individuals need to be empowered.
  • Communication and Collaboration Tools: Now imagine robust collaboration tools, whether for doctor-patient interactions or financial advisory services or project management of a huge variety of needs in an increasingly mobile and global world. Tools that provide enabling support system infrastructure (think support circles like AA)—imagine a person determined to get support from a peer-group, perhaps leveraging social media or being able to “chat” with someone in the same situation? What are the issues you’d like to solve for connection and interaction in secure “conversations.”
  • Data Collection and Knowledge Enhancement Systems: Think apps, apps and more apps in this brave new world. While today there aren't pervasive and easy mechanisms for capturing personally relevant and related data, think smartphone apps that use communication networks to collect data through mobilized applications. Think applications, and knowledge-based systems that can improve our body of knowledge through crowd-sourcing of what works and what doesn’t, through review, analysis and synthesis of research publications, and case-studies, leading to data-driven and evidence-based solutions to any one or more of a growing variety of data challenges that are becoming increasingly challenging with each “open data” release.
What are the judging criteria? How will my product be scored?
  • How well does your solution address the challenge? 25 points
    • How well have you integrated subject matter knowledge and available data sets in creating your solution
  • How innovative is your idea? 20 points
  • How much did you get developed during th eevent? 20 points
    • We encourage you to use legacey codebases, libraries, APIs, and databases - using an honor system tell us what you produced during the event
  • How user-friendly is your product or design? 10 points
  • How viable is your product in the market? 10 points
    • It's not just about the technology; will your solution be a successful product or business?
    • Litmus test: will someone pay to use it, or use it even if you gave it away for free?
  • How good was your presentation? 15 points
    • remember, you need to prepare slides
    • also remember that in your presentation, you need to convince the judges not only how cool your technology is, but how well it addresses the problem, hoe likely it is to be used, how viable it is as a product in the market place?
    • Live demo, if applicable
Is there anything I need to know about the judging process?

Don't forget:

  • You need to sign up for your presentation and judging by 1PM on February 22, 2014
    • Submit a breif/one-to-two sentance description of your project when you sign up your team for presentation.
  • Leave adequae time to prepare your slide-deck and refine your presentation
    • Know that Live Demo Rules!
  • 5 minute presentation, 3 minutes of Q&Q - not to exceed total 10 minutes including setup.
      Brevity rocks! the judges retain the right to cut you short
How are teams formed?

We expect the majority of participants might enter the competition as part of a team they have already assembled before the event. Please register by the EARLY BIRD DEADLINE of January 13, 2014 and we will work hard to play matchmaker, so teams can be formed before coming to the event. In case you show up at the event without being part of any team, we will try to match you up with others at the end of the plenary session on the morning of February 22, 2014, but know that you will lose some coding time because those already in teams will start programming as soon as the morning plenary session ends.

Do I need to use any particular language or development platform?

No, the organizers and judges are agnostic about the programming language, architectural paradigm, or the IDE platform you use to develop your application. Likewise, there are no restrictions on the target environment of your applications—they can be web-based or mobile applications.

Will VMs be provided to test and host applications?

No. You will bring all Dev, Test, and Prod systems with you physically or reach your preferred remote infrastructure. You will be provided with power, Internet connectivity and a place to work as teams. Bring Your Own IT (BYOIT)! If you need to host an application on a server, you can utilize services such as Windows Azure, Amazon Web Services or any other hosting provider of your choice.

Are there any limitations to what can be built in terms of mobile vs. web vs. desktop app?

No. Time and imagination are your only limits

Can I bring existing code with me to the competition or do we need to start from scratch? What about using existing open source code?

Yes. But we will follow the classic code of honor. In your presentations, please make sure you tell the judges what you had when you came in, what 3rd party components you used and what you actually developed during the event. This disclosure will NOT go against you. Rather, you will place your team on a solid footing with your honest disclosure, because:

  • these judeges are experts (they know what can and cannot be developed in the limited time)
  • the modern world of computing is all about properly and ethically leveraging libraries, APIs, open source code, and existing data sets
What are the rules regarding third-party APIs?

None. Just acknowledge their use

Can my team meet prior to the event to start discussions?

We encourage teams to start talking amongst themselves at least by the week leading up to the event to get a head start. You are also invited to a brief meet-up gathering at 6 PM on Friday, February 21, 2014 to kick off Philly Codefest weekend. But we ask that if you do any coding prior to the start of the event Saturday morning that you admit that in your assessment of what you got built within the constraints of the coding competition. In particular we encourage teams to perform an assessment of the skill-sets of the teammates and consider assigning project roles within the team. In this way you'll be best positioned to hit the ground running Saturday morning.

Can we work through the night on February 22, 2014?

Yes! You can choose to work through the night on Saturday, February 22, 2014. We have made arrangements for the event location to remain open throughout the night, and for bus transportation throughout the night, in the event you want to return to your hotels in the middle of the night. But remember to fuel up, just like mom’s home there will not be any midnight food service.

Do I have to code on-site or can I code at a location of my choosing?

All coding must be done on site (please) unless you have extraordinary circumstances. There is a LOT of guidance on data and the challenge that will be provided by more than a dozen subject matter experts who are making themselves available to help coach and consult with you. If you work offsite, you will be at a distinct disadvantage.

Are there any prizes other than a grand prize?

Yes. But, we love a good surprise. Your team has to be at the awards ceremony, or at least represented at the ceremony, to be eligible to receive prizes. Yes. But, we love a good surprise. Your team has to be at the awards ceremony, or at least represented at the ceremony, to be eligible to receive prizes.

Who owns the code that my team writes? Are we required to open source it?

Nope, you own it.

Is the data release during the Philly Codefest mine to keep?

Some of these data are already available at public sites that will be named ahead of the event. Other datasets have been specifically prepared for release and exclusively for use during the Philly Codefest. Please note that we will be glad to work with you to enter into data sharing agreements between you and the appropriate parties, if you would like to use these data after the event.