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Houston Hackathon v5

Another year and another incredibly successful Houston Hackathon in the books! The City held its 5th Annual Houston Hackathon on May 20-21 at the Houston Technology Center in partnership with Sketch City, a nonprofit community that advocates for civic technology and open data. More than 300 software developers, designers, and data analysts attended the event pitching ideas, forming teams, and developing innovative new websites, mobile apps, and insightful data visualizations to address community and City problems.

The Mayor’s Office of Innovation & Performance helps host the Hackathon every year, serving as the City subject-matter experts, data stewards and general brainstormers. One of our own, Steven David, led a project team that developed a smoke detector risk model that will inform which neighborhoods and block groups our Fire Department will target with fire alarm installations. Saving lives through data!

The Hackathon is over, but the Innovation Team’s work has just begun. Over the coming months, we’ll be working with teams from the Hackathon to carry their projects across the finish line – whether it is adopting and incorporating solutions into existing City programs or promoting and facilitating projects that go beyond the walls of City Hall.

To view all submissions visit: https://houstonhackathon5.devpost.com/submissions

2017 Hackathon Winners:
Houston Adopt-a-Drain - which allows citizens to adopt storm drains and notifies adopters when a major storm event is coming so they can clear their adopted drain inlets.https://devpost.com/software/houston-adopt-a-storm-drain

NeedHOU - created a comprehensive database for community service providers to more appropriately and easily refer clients to resources in the community. https://devpost.com/software/need-hou

Houston Book Link - allows users to search the resources of both Houston Public Library and Harris County Public Library Systems' in a single site. http://houstonbook.link

PAIR (Polluted Air) - Sends users a notification when nearby air quality sensors detect a moderate or dangerous level of pollutants and allows users to easily report air quality violations to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. https://devpost.com/software/pair-o60q2n

For further details about the City of Houston's Hackathon please visit: http://www.houstonhackathon.com

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City of Houston Sees Savings from LED Streetlights

In June 2014 the City of Houston and CenterPoint agreed to switch traditional streetlights in the City of Houston to LED lights. Two years have passed since the agreement was signed, and Houstonians have begun to notice the new LED streetlights. Taxpayers are also seeing savings in the General Fund thanks to this conversion effort.

With approximately half of the streetlights replaced in the last two years, our team was curious what the savings impact had been to date. By our estimates, nearly $900,000 has been saved through the bill period ending June 7, 2016. While the agreement was signed in June 2014, the conversion did not start until January 2015 after all the needed approvals were gathered. The first LED lights appeared on the City’s light bill in March 2015. You can check out the savings over time in the chart below.

How do savings work? The City does not own the streetlights and does not incur the capital cost of replacing the lightbulbs; instead, this duty falls to CenterPoint. The City does, however, pay for most of the operational costs associated with street lighting. The money to pay the electricity bill for streetlights ultimately comes from the General Fund – which is the City’s main governmental fund and is funded by taxpayer dollars.

When traditional streetlights are switched out for LED lightbulbs the number of kilowatts per hour (KWH) consumed decreases substantially. Not pictured on the chart below, the City has also saved approximately 19 million KWHs in the 16 months since the first LED streetlights appeared on our bill. This decrease in KWHs leads to a decrease in the electricity bill for the City. When the conversion is fully completed, the City estimates it will save between $2.5 million to $3.0 million a year compared to traditional lightbulbs (depending upon the price of energy).


LED Savings as of June 07, 2016

Frank C. Bracco is a Senior Staff Analyst for the City of Houston Finance Department and is a member of the Performance Improvement Division. Frank holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from the University of Florida and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

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4th Annual City of Houston Hackathon Roundup

On the weekend of May 13-15, a crowd of local data nerds, coders, hackers, and generally civic minded residents gathered together at the Houston Technology Center to build cool things, share ideas, and above all, eat free food at the 4th Annual City of Houston Hackathon.

This 4th iteration of what is becoming a must attend event, featured over 200 attendees that worked diligently over the course of 24 hours fueled on coffee, civic responsibility and the aforementioned free food to build 15 very impressive applications.

You can read more about the four finalists by following the links below. Each winner will have the chance to present their project to Mayor Sylvester Turner.

  • Johns Beware - A project dedicated to ending sex trafficking by reducing demand, supporting law enforcement, and creating awareness.
  • District Finder API - This API allows other applications to find all sorts of political districts for a provided latitude and longitude.
  • Invoice Dashboard - Imagine you’re a vendor doing business with an organization that is based only in one city but has 22 AP groups.
  • Task Bounty - Service marketplace to empower and employ local citizens to address local municipal issues.

A huge thank you to all the sponsors and everyone that came to support the event at the Houston Technology Center! You can get the full list of shout-outs over on Sketch City's blog.

More information can be found about all of the projects at: http://2016houstonhackathon.devpost.com/submissions

If you are interested in getting involved with Civic Technology or attending future hack nights, please reach out to our partners in these efforts: Sketch City.

Kurt leads improvement projects, performs ad-hoc data analysis, and provides high-level strategic insight for the division. Kurt received his Master of Public Administration and his Bachelor of Arts from Oklahoma State University. Prior to joining the City, Kurt managed analytics for Waste Management’s Energy Services customer segment, delivering insights into customer profitability, pricing strategy, service delivery optimization, and mergers and acquisitions strategy. Kurt has been at the City previously and was one of the inaugural members of the Performance Improvement Division. Kurt is Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certified and has led various projects throughout the city. In his free time, he likes to play basketball, ping pong and board games and enjoys trying new restaurants with his wife, Brittany.

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Budget Bootcamp and Open Data Updated for FY2017 Proposed Budget

This week marks the release of Mayor Turner’s proposed Annual Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2017. To assist end-users in their analysis of the proposed budget, the City provides detailed budgetary information in our online Budget Bootcamp tool at http://performance.houstontx.gov/budgetbootcamp and also on the interim Open Data Portal at http://data.ohouston.org/dataset/city-of-houston-fiscal-year-adopted-operating-budgets. Both of these resources have been updated to include information for this upcoming year's proposed budget. The official proposed budget and past adopted budgets can also be found online at http://houstontx.gov/budget/.

Frank C. Bracco is a Senior Staff Analyst for the City of Houston Finance Department and is a member of the Performance Improvement Division. Frank holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from the University of Florida and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

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