Philly is the Space Apps Challenge Global MainStage: Join Us!

Philly is the Space Apps Challenge Global MainStage: Join Us!

Azavea developers and staff (including yours truly) are no strangers to civic hackathons.  We’ve hosted Code for America hackathons before, organized and ran Hacks for Democracy last fall, and we have attended and/or sponsored events such as the Washington Post’s Election Hackathon, Random Hacks of Kindness, TechCamp Philadelphia, and many others.

We are particularly excited about the next one we are organizing for April 20th and 21st: NASA’s 2nd annual International Space Apps Challenge.

Any hackathon presented by NASA – yes, the folks who run the International Space Station, send landers to Mars, and listen to the transmissions of probes now outside our solar system – would already be pretty exciting.  But it gets better.  “Space Apps” is a two-day hackathon where citizens from around the world will work together to solve contemporary challenges related to both space exploration and social needs.  By “around the world,” we mean that Space Apps is a planet-wide event that will be happening in 75 cities in 41 countries simultaneously and collaboratively over the same weekend. That’s a lot of civic hacking.

More exciting still, NASA has picked Azavea to organize the event in Philadelphia as the Space Apps Global MainStage site – NASA senior staff will be attending the event at The ExCITe Center at Drexel University and managing the global event from here.  We’re also partnering with PhillyTechWeek and the Franklin Institute’s Philadelphia Science Festival, both of which have April 20-21st as their opening weekend.  We’ve confirmed VIPs like the Franklin Institute’s Chief Astronomer and Planetarium Director Derrick Pitts, the City of Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer Mark Headd, NASA’s Deputy Chief Information Officer Deborah Diaz, and a tentative commitment from a real astronaut (or two, fingers crossed!) as judges of the final challenge solutions on Sunday.

The 2012 challenge engaged more than 2,000 participants globally who collaborated on over 100 open source solutions to 71 featured challenges. This year’s event already has the potential to be bigger with more than 50 challenges from inside and outside of NASA, drawing on vast amounts of open data from NASA, key subject matter experts, and other scientific and astronomical resources.  We’re working on highlighting a specific few of those challenges for the Philadelphia event, and we’re aiming to gather a group of people interested in any of the four types of project:  web/mobile software, citizen science, open hardware and sensors, and data visualization.  We are hoping for diverse teams of technologists, scientists, designers, artists, educators, entrepreneurs, software developers, and both K-12 and college students to be comfortable at this event.  Will you be one? Register now at (the ‘Register’ button is in the top right corner on the page).

Thank you to our generous sponsors: GitHub, Chariot Solutions,, Global Advantage Consulting, Amazon Web Services, and our venue sponsors: ExCITe Center at Drexel University and First Round Capital.