17 January 2012

CleanWeb Hackathon Brings Its Disruptive Energy to New York

There's no question that the energy infrastructure is ripe for disruption. Outmoded, inefficient systems and distribution, and an entitlement mindset has ruled the day in the utility industry for decades.

Enter the CleanWeb Hackathon. Its founders propose to apply information technology to resource constraints, building apps and hacks that combine new, sustainable business models and leverage the mobile and social web.

For 24 hours this weekend in New York attendees will tackle utility, transport, and smart grid datasets and see what they can "hack" out of them.

The first CleanWeb Hackathon, held last September in San Francisco, generated such ideas as Dr. Wattson, which helps you sleuth-out energy plan savings, GroMunity, an online community for sharing and trading home garden crops, helping out neighbors, and ridding your community of food waste, and Toxicslayar, a mobile app that shows toxic chemical releases from thousands of US facilities.

Not many of these ideas survived past the weekend incubator, but the concept of applying the innovation of the web and mobile technologies to energy, transportation, and smart grid is a good one.

Sunil Paul of Spring Ventures, the brainchild behind the CleanWeb Hackathon, describes the concept as marrying information technology with green initiatives.

"Information technology is actually going to prove as valuable as the application of new materials and nano-technology and bio-technology have been for the environment," Paul told an audience last year.

It's not just about apps, however. Other examples of CleanWeb innovations include sharing services such as AirBnB, ZipCar, Spride, and even NeighborGoods, which all help reduce an individual's consumption of resources and impact on the planet.

Now CleanWeb comes to New York and taps into the tech ecosystem here -- 24 hours in the city that never sleeps should yield some innovative ideas.

For more information about the CleanWeb Hackathon or to register to attend, go to CleanWeb Hackathon.