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Gov’t to unveil practical, hacker-developed ‘apps’

Twitter co-founder Evan Henshaw-Plath speaks to some of the "hackers" that participated in the Tech Summit.

Twitter co-founder Evan Henshaw-Plath speaks to some of the “hackers” that participated in the Tech Summit.

Solutions to address challenges such as providing secure access to government databases, managing the mass transit system routes and developing an app to facilitate hydrants location for the Fire Department to use in case of emergency, were just some of the many applications that came out of the 1st Puerto Rico Tech Summit held Thursday.

The applications developed by some of the 200 programmers and tech professionals that participated in the event were unveiled at the end of the day and taken in by the government’s Chief Information Officer’s office, which will be in charge of putting them to work, along with related government agencies.

“We’re pleased with the response received from the government, the academia and the private sector in this first gathering of technological minds. We see great potential for development and improvement of services through the application of technology, and the response to this summit confirms that we are going on the right track,” said government CIO Giancarlo González.

He added that the summit officially initiates the task of “advancing the governor’s visionary strategic technology plan, which includes initiatives in each of the government agencies so as to promote interoperability and interconnection and therefore, improve the quality of service to citizens.”

That task entails developing and launching online applications and solutions to report crime, interact with agencies such as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority and the Department of Transportation, among others, he said.

The activity held at the Puerto Rico Convention Center brought together some 500 technology and information systems experts, as well as the developers who proposed applications aimed at solving some critical challenges the island is facing.

A week ago, the CIO’s office provided the “hackers” with information on a series of challenges for which they had to develop technology applications to solve them successfully and effectively during the “Hackers Boot Camp” component of the summit.

The event’s program included presentations on optimization of government services through technology and application development, interoperability and interconnection between public agencies, lean leadership and secure access to government data to promote socioeconomic growth, among others topics.

Speakers such as Evan Henshaw-Plath, co-founder of the social network Twitter, Chris Herndon, founder of Apartment List, United States leading search engine for rental properties in the nation, and Doug Robinson, Executive Director of the National Association of States Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), shared their experiences, vision and knowledge with attendees.

Tech corridor taking shape in Santurce
A group of technology companies based in Santurce — including media, design agencies, advertising and web content and Internet providers — have teamed up to create the “Digital Corridor,” which aims to transform the area’s former Theater District into a new sustainable model of technology-based economic development.

CaribeNet, headquartered in the historic Telégrafo building on Ponce de León Avenue, is part of the Digital Corridor.

CaribeNet, headquartered in the historic Telégrafo building on Ponce de León Avenue, is part of the Digital Corridor.

The initiative was formally unveiled during the Tech Summit.

“We want to make the Santurce area into an ecosystem of technology startups that in turn contribute to the local economy by creating new companies and permanent job opportunities,” said Ernesto Gonzalez, spokesman for the Digital Corridor, which is being wired up by long-time Santurce tenant CaribeNet.

The companies that are already part of the Corridor include Gustazos, PR Soft, Critical Hub Networks, Nobox, Dashway Technologies, Content Driven, Interactive Shore, MiPuertoRicoVerde.com, Noticel, Puerto Rico Bridge Initiative, IAB Caribbean, GTA Internet Marketing, and Ireda.

The companies came together a nonprofit and its funds will be used to create initiatives that help emerging companies create successful business models that they can market and export, González said.

“We’re talking about software and content development, and web 2.0 models that are successful in the local market and have export potential,” said González.

By joining forces, the Digital Corridor seeks to present to Puerto Rico as an attractive location for technology companies who want to create a base to provide services in the Caribbean and Latin America, he said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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