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‘Hackers’ channel savvy into solving government issues

Puerto Rico's CIO, Giancarlo González (center), offers details of the upcoming Tech Summit, flanked by hackers and industry executives.

Puerto Rico’s CIO, Giancarlo González (center), offers details of the upcoming Tech Summit, flanked by hackers and industry executives.

In the past year, Puerto Rico’s “hacker community” has created 31 solutions to address 12 government challenges aiming to increase effectiveness between agencies and the quality of services to citizens. As a result, expectations are running high for the development of more applications during the second edition of the Tech Summit.

Slated for June 4, the government-sponsored event is a strategy by the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Department of Economic Development and Commerce to promote technology as a hub for economic development.

“Many of the applications created [last year] are currently in use or will be launched soon, while others influenced other developments that have received awards,” said Giancarlo González, the government’s CIO. This year we will have different challenges ranging from applications to increase citizen security, to identifying areas with features to attract certain types of investments, among others.”

One of last year’s winning applications, “MyTurn” was developed by a group of students from the University of Puerto Rico to provide greater flexibility and options for people who are waiting for their turn in a clinic or an office.

The students participated in a summer internship in the CIO’s office through which they gained experience and leadership by working on different technological projects, he said.

DigiDoc, another winning application, was developed by KyteLabs and consists of a system to create customized forms for agencies that include a signature registry, which speeds up the process for approving contracts. The developers designed a bluetooth device that raised $75,000 on Kickstarter and were accepted into an incubator for tech stars in New York.

Among those in attendance during the news conference was Christian González, CEO of WovenWare, a company that more than a year ago launched TeNotifi.co, which alerts the user about power failures and other government services via text message or email, and Leslie Luciano from FusionWorks, the company responsible for StudentHack, which runs and automates student attendance, record keeping and reporting to parents, A pilot version of the program will launch in August.

“Thanks to the Tech Summit, we were visited by representatives of Code for America, and now we have this organization in Puerto Rico. This was fundamental for the establishment of Code 4 Puerto Rico locally, which is working on several projects across the island, such as the crime map project for the Police Department,” said the CIO.

The Puerto Rico Tech Summit 2014 brings together renowned local and international information technology officers, and represents an excellent networking opportunity to attract foreign capital.

During the event, a total of 125 programmers will gather to develop live applications and technological solutions to streamline and simplify government processes and thus encourage greater interaction between government and citizens, as well as greater efficiency. For more information, please visit www.techsummitpr.com.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 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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