Google and States Host Government Challenge in Denver, May 17-18

Mark Boyd
May. 14 2014, 03:08PM EDT

On May 17-18, a new series of Government Challenge events being hosted by Google and event organizer MoDev starts in Denver, Colorado. With governments undergoing a sea change in their approach to open data and cloud technology, many developers are wondering how to leverage opportunities to commercialize new products for this market. The Google GovDev Challenge — in partnership with the States of Colorado and Wyoming — will give developers a chance to test the waters, build solutions, and compete for high cash prizes.
 

“There are four specific opportunities for developers,” says co-organizer and founder of MoDev, Pete Erickson.

Developer opportunities in the Challenge

“Developers are going to learn the Google toolsets: Google Apps Engine, the Google Cloud platform, Google Maps API, it’s a real opportunity to take a deep dive into the Google toolset, which is something every developer should do at some stage. And every participant attending will receive a $500 credit to use with the Google App Engine.” How developers use the Google tools makes up 20% of the judging crtiteria.

“The second opportunity is to help states really move forward with the technological revolution that is happening now. You can use your coding smarts or design capability to help solve current challenges.”

Erickson explains that the competition starts on Saturday with the states of Colorado and Wyoming releasing open data and announcing three challenges that teams can solve. “Participants will have real data to work with. They will be able to access APIs, raw data and data in different formats,” Erickson said.

“The third opportunity is that each one of these challenges includes a $5,000 first prize, and there are cash prizes for second and third prize as well for each challenge.”

“You get training, you get to potentially win something, and you get to meet a lot of really great people,” Erickson says.

Developers can come with their startup team or create a team specifically for the challenege. “Some turn up with teams already set, but developers are welcome to come and we’ll place you on a team. Even if you are not a confident developer, there are a lot of things you can do to help a team be successful so if you are not a coder, the team will still benefit,” Erickson says.

Colorado — an ideal tech hub

Colorado is an ideal setting for the developer challenge, with a growing base of developers and startups in areas directly surrounding the state capital, Denver. Next week, developers will descend on Broomfield, Colorado to attend Gluecon, while this week tech startups in nearby Boulder, Colorado are already hosting a range of events as 80 locally-based tech startups seek to hire developers to join their teams.
 

ABOVE: Some of the Boulder, Colorado tech startups sponsoring a drive to hire new developers for local businesses

In a recent review of the strongest American economies, urban researcher Richard Florida noted that if Denver-Boulder were a country, it would be listed in the top 50 largest economies in the world, surpassing Finland, Greece or Italy. Gnip, SendGrid and the startup accelarator TechStars all started in Boulder, Colorado.

Developers can still register for the event on the Google GovDev Challenge website.

Mark Boyd is a ProgrammableWeb writer covering breaking news, API business strategies and models, open data, and smart cities. I can be contacted via email, on Twitter, or on Google+.

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