First statewide civic tech competition in NJ

EWING, NJ — Sustainable Jersey unveils Coding for Community, and New Jersey-wide civic tech competition — the first of its kind.

“We’re pairing municipalities with technology professionals and students to develop real solutions for local sustainability and public engagement issues,” Lauren Skowronski, director for community engagement for Sustainable Jersey, said in a press release. Professional and student coders, programmers and digital designers from across the region will work with municipal staff, green team members and elected officials, similar to the now popular hackathons.

The competition kicks off Jan. 27 with an all-day event co-hosted by the New Jersey Innovation Institute at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, where potential tech solutions to local issues will be identified and teams will form.

“We’re inviting participants to dream big as towns will be paired with innovative minds to create tools that can address a need within the community such as tracking reductions in waste and greenhouse gas emissions or collecting input from residents on quality-of-life decisions. Think apps, data and input gathering, visualizations and beyond,” Thomas Motyka, the senior executive director of Smart Infrastructure Innovation at the New Jersey Innovation Institute, said in the release.

“Governments traditionally have limited technology resources and data analysis capabilities, but typically have a high degree of need for these types of advances,” Brian Platt, director of the Jersey City Office of Innovation, said, adding that there is a lot to be learned from the private sector and other communities that have brought successful technologies to address local sustainability and public engagement issues. “I see the Coding for Community event as a way to connect other towns in New Jersey with a talented pool of tech experts that can help drive transformative change through the use of technology.”

AT&T is providing $10,000 to Sustainable Jersey to use for prize money. The winning team will receive $8,000 and runners up will receive $4,000. Municipalities actively involved in the winning team’s project will receive $2,000 for the first-place team and $1,000 for the second-place team. Sustainable Jersey is partnering on this event with the City of Jersey City, Code for Trenton, Code for Jersey City, Code for Princeton, OpenGov, the New Jersey Innovation Institute, the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Sustainable Princeton. The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and the Knight Foundation are project funders.

The Coding for Community kickoff will be Friday, Jan. 27, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the atrium at the NJIT Campus Center, 150 Bleeker St. in Newark. For more details and to register, visit