How to Create a HackSummit Problem

As a HackSummit Problem Sponsor, your job is to create problems that HackSummit participants can work on! All problem statements for the June 14-15 HackSummit should focus on local San Francisco Bay initiatives.

Participant solutions could fit into any of these categories: Web App, Mobile App, Data Visualization, Digital Media, Design Prototype, or Business Plan

Here are our recommendations on creating an interesting problem:

  • You can suggest that participants propose Web Apps, Mobile Apps, Data Visualizations, Digital Media, Design Prototypes, or Business Plans – or let participants know they can propose any of those.
  • Let the participants know if your organization is willing to work with teams into the future on a partnership, contractor, or hiring basis!
  • Let the participants know if you want HackSummit to publish their solution in the SolutionReport! You can create terms like “In order to accept our prize, we ask that the winning team’s solution not get pubished in the SolutionReport”
  • In the spirit of putting ideas into the public domain, HackSummit does not legally ask any participants to avoid circulating or distributing their ideas inside or outside of HackSummit. It is your responsibility as a problem sponsor to discuss any terms on publicity or ownership.


If you choose to solve any problem you wish, you can still win a technology specific award!

Neo Technology is awarding $100 Amazon Gift Cards to all winning team members for the top team building on their technology

Bitcasa is awarding $250 to the top team building on its API

Dice is awarding a $250 Visa gift card to the top team building on its technology

Autodesk is awarding $250 to the top team building on its API

Partner Problems

Problem #1 sponsored by Omidyar Network Contact Omidyar Network here
About: Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm that invests in entrepreneurswho share our commitment to advancing social good at the pace and scale the world needs today. We are focused on five key areas we believe are building blocks for prosperous, stable, and open societies: Consumer Internet and Mobile, Education, Financial Inclusion, Government Transparency, and Property Rights.

Problem Description: Peer to peer based technology platforms (also termed the “sharing economy”) are growing at a massive rate. These platforms (e.g., TaskRabbit, Ushahidi, Lyft, Etsy, Indiegogo, etc.) can provide employment, increased income, capital, independence, knowledge, social change, and much more for participants. Additionally, there is a unique richness to the community that can be built on these platforms both at the local and national level. Although there are now millions of people involved on these platforms, there are still gaps that can be filled in this ecosystem. This a very broad problem prompt of the following elements:

  • Aggregation and transparency of platforms: participants of these platforms may not be able to compare options (e.g., income earned, parameters, etc.) or view all of the possible options (e.g., driver, housecleaner, renter, seller of crafts, etc.).
  • Services supplementing platforms: participants of these platforms may not necessarily have understanding of or access to employee benefits such as healthcare insurance, financial products, financial education, etc. What services are potentially missing and how can we deliver these to this new generation of participants.
  • Any other gaps platforms have not addressed: although there are now a rich array of peer to peer based technology platforms, there might be some that have not yet been thought up. What are some other platforms that can help create social change at the local or global level.
  • Any other problem not addressed??

Official Problems

Problem #2 Sponsored by AutoDesk Contact Autodesk here
San Francisco, a 7×7 mile city surrounded by water, is positioned for great loss in the face of rising sea level. Buildings, infrastructure, fragile habitats and cherished recreational space are all threatened equally. How can technology and design play a role in either reversing the trend of rising sea level or preparing for the worst?

Autodesk helps people imagine, design, and create a better world and supports those using design to tackle epic challenges like climate change. We are offering a prize of $250 to the team who creates the most innovative solution for preventing or responding to sea level rise in the city we love.

Autodesk helps people imagine, design, and create a better world; and so we are proud to be a sponsor of HackSummit 2014. Visit our sponsor’s table at the event to find out how our cloud and desktop platforms can help you build solutions that will solve real problems for your community and for the world, and to ask for our help using them in your hackathon apps.

As a special benefit for HackSummit, we’re offering participants the chance to be the first to use our soon to be released 3D viewer and its API. This is a zero-client, browser-based viewer that will run in any WebGL enabled browser. The viewer already supports over 60 common design and 3D file formats, with more being added all the time. Its strengths are that models are streamed, so you can start interacting with a very large model without waiting for the entire file to be downloaded from the server; and that the viewer has access to the rich design data embedded in the original design – properties, parameters, inter-object relationships, materials and more. APIs include a server side REST API for uploading, translating and then accessing your models, and a client-side JavaScript API that allows fine control of the viewer itself, including:

  • Responding to events, e.g. selection and view changes;
  • Manipulating the view/camera;
  • Editing the 3D geometry in the model, e.g. modifying materials, adding new 3D geometry, animating model components;
  • Searching and displaying the rich data included in the model;
  • Isolating and highlighting model components.

Find out at HackSummit just how easy it is to enhance your web applications by embedding and interacting with data-rich 3D models.

Information on getting started with the Autodesk View and Data API is available on our developer web portal ( Please note that this is a pre-release website, and so some links on the site may not be functioning yet. You’re very welcome to browse the API documentation on the site now, but API keys will not be issued before the hackathon.

Problem #3 Sponsored by Kiva Contact Kiva here
About Kiva:
Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network ofmicrofinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.

Users come to and look through 1000s of borrower stories to find one that appeals. They then deposit money to help fund the loan, via a field partner, for that person or group. As the loan is repaid, the money is deposited into the lenders account where it can be relent or withdrawn.

Core to Kiva’s impact is the connection of people across the globe through stories, videos, and pictures. Since our lenders make no interest on their loan, it is the act to alleviating poverty that provides the lasting value.

It can be overwhelming to search through 2000 loans to find one that appeals to one’s interests. Kiva currently uses a series of search filters to help narrow the field. However, in today’s world of “big data”, there is no reason we can’t leverage the available data to target loan suggestions as accurately as any ad targeting.

Are you an avid artist, as discerned from your Facebook data? Are you planning on traveling to Vietnam on vacation, based on your Google Circles? The field is wide open as to how to interpret the data.

The challenge is to build a recommendation app (mobile, web, or otherwise) that allows users to give access to whatever data they feel comfortable exposing (Facebook, Twitter, cookies—be imaginative.) The app will then use the Kiva API ( to get data on the currently posted loans, including appropriate lender data, and create a slate of recommended loans. (UI design is key to a successful application since this is about an emotional appeal as much as anything else.)

Problem #4 sponsored by Contact Dice here
We’re challenging HackSummit attendees to use the Dice API to analyze which skills and careers are the most in demand in the SF marketplace today. This information would be useful for understanding tech job trends, what skills or degrees are most critical for the current job landscape, and where jobs are focused geographically!

You can access the Dice API here:

Problem #5 sponsored by Bitcasa Contact Bitcasa here
About Bitcasa:
Bitcasa is the cloud storage solution that gives you more. With access from anywhere on any device, your options are infinite!

Instead of having to reinvent the storage wheel, the Bitcasa Platform is designed to get developers right into the driver’s seat. With private-key encryption, a proven file system, media transcoding and file sharing, it’s beyond easy to implement our API with your cloud applications. Get building with the Bitcasa Developer API!

Due to the ever-present charitable nature of San Francisco, it has become host to a bevy of non-profit companies; all of whom have the city’s (and its citizens’) best interests at heart.

Many of these companies lack funds to support adequate file management and storage solutions that would greatly benefit their productivity and efforts. Non-profit organizations more often than not also deal with data that requires various levels of security but can also be accessible both in and out of an office environment.

Using the Bitcasa Developer API, create a secure, collaborative file management system for non-profit organizations that will help maximize their productivity and file accessibility.

You can see notes on building with Bitcasa’s API here

Problem #6 sponsored by Project Nuevo Mundo Contact Project Nuevo Mundo here
Project Nuevo Mundo would like to collaborate with a designer / developer team to create an interactive prototype of an application that can some one (or several) of the following problems for their organization!
Note: Some of these functionalities would require developing a standalone app (user can log in through FB or create own profile with basic information)

  • Allow user to search database for centers, events, or opportunities (or just centers)
  • Get notified of local impact days (hosted by impact centers), show up, take photos, get people to review others that they work with, it all goes to their social pnm profile
  • Connect user to next or nearest PNM network-related event, or a listing of upcoming events in the area
  • Connect user to list of local resources (listed in our network) based on selected interest/topic (e.g. list of closest urban community gardens, nursery, coworking spaces, cooperative living spaces, hacker/maker space, impact centers, etc.) – this may be easy using NearMe platform?
  • Connect user to local educational resources offering education in skills that user wants to learn (permaculture, natural building, yoga – or could be just one skill to simplify)
  • Connect user to local opportunities that need the skill set that user has
  • Connect user to other PNM network users in local neighborhood or area (like NextDoor)
  • Create a database for projects users wish to create or are working on, allow users to post “dream or active projects” and enable other users to find and connect with those projects and collaborate on them (virtual Tribe Talks)

Prize: $250 cash for top project

Problem #7 sponsored by Evolve Contact Evolve here
Title: Open Data for Democracy
Desc: There’s a lot of effort going into open government data, and that’s great. We have more and more consumable data that help us evaluate government effectiveness and provide easier access to services. Unfortunately the state of data related to elections — our way of holding our government accountable for performance — is very poor.

There is no one place to go for a list of all California elected officials. There’s no place to go for a list of all California candidates for public office. To build a list of candidates you have to go to each county’s web site and get the data. Sometimes it’s in HTML, sometimes, PDF, sometimes they will mail it to you after you send a check. And in some cases you just can’t get the data. Even when you can get the data, candidates aren’t required to provide any real contact info — you might get an email that bounces, or a phone number where the voicemail is full. Or sometimes just a mailing address. This problem is compounded because the data change every election.

Evolve wants to change that. We want to make it easy for anybody to get contact information for public elected officials and those running for public office. We think this is a core requirement for democracy. We need your help to build a public database so this information can be used by the public. Solutions could include scraping, public submissions, or a way for county election departments to upload data.

Prize: $250

Problem #8 sponsored by Evolve Contact Evolve here
Title: Point of Sale for Canvassers
Desc: We’ve all been annoyed at “charity muggers”, myself included. Many don’t realize that person-to-person contact is by far the most cost effective way for an organization to build up a donor base. At Evolve we think more people giving small amounts of money to a cause is better than few people giving lots of money. The former creates a more resilient organization less beholden to donor agendas. It’s not just traditional advocacy organizations that have these challenges — local arts organizations, political candidates, or even small businesses face similar challenges when trying to build donor/customer bases.

A central challenge to doing this is processing donations. Most of the solutions available aren’t quite right because they are geared towards retail sales. In particular they are overly concerned about approving transactions immediately (if a donation doesn’t go through we haven’t given away any merchandise) and not concerned enough about capturing contact information. Mobile devices create great opportunities, but have their own challenges in terms of canvasser safety, theft, and entering contact info. No donor wants to try and type out their address on a phone, and we can’t afford iPads for every canvasser.

We have a traditional paper system now, and we process contributions via a Rails application using Authorize.Net, but we would like help figuring out how to improve our work. What can we figure out? Can we hook up Square swipers to old Kindles, pull transactions via API, and link them to paper forms? What happens when chip-and-pin cards become the norm? Could we switch to EFT transactions? Would that be a good thing?

Prize: $250

Problem #9 sponsored by RE-volv Contact RE-volv here
About RE-volv:
RE-volv empowers people to take action on climate change by crowdfunding solar energy projects for community-serving nonprofits and cooperatives. Through crowdfunding, RE-volv lets people donate to a revolving fund that uses savings from one solar energy project to pay for the next. RE-volv’s process has the following steps. RE-volv hosts a crowdfunding campaign for a solar energy project for a specific community center. RE-volv uses the money raised to pay the up front costs of a solar energy system which it leases to the community center. The community center pays RE-volv back over 20 years with interest. RE-volv then reinvests this money to pay for more solar energy projects for other community centers.

To date, RE-volv has completed two successful crowdfunding campaigns on Indiegogo.


Help build a prototype of a crowd-funding platform for funding solar projects!

Now RE-volv seeks to develop its own platform to raise donations and allow donors to manage how their donation dollars are reinvested through the revolving fund. The platform will allow donors to log in and see on their profile: 1) how much they’ve donated 2) which solar energy projects they’ve supported 3) how much electricity has been generated by their projects 4) the environmental benefits enabled by their donation 5) the amount of savings received by the community 6) the amount of their donation that’s been repaid 7) the amount of interest that’s been earned. Once they see how much has been repaid they get to decide which project to put the money into next.

This will allow for greater control and an increased sense of ownership, which will attract new donors and sustain existing donors. RE-volv is looking for HackSummit participants to propose Design Prototypes for this new web platform. RE-volv is willing to work with teams into the future on a partnership, contractor, or hiring basis.

Basic Problems

Car Reduction: Reduce the number / use of cars for SF Bay commuting. This could be via car sharing, gamification of using alternative travel like cycling / scooters, or a more transparent way to schedule your public transportation route – etc.
Prize: Team gets $250 cash PLUS each member gets a PRO pass to DataWeek + API World

Local Fitness: Encourage more people get involved in fitness / athletic events around the SF Bay area. This could include such approaches as gamifying fitness / athletic involvement, helping people find local fitness coaches, making it easier to find fitness events, etc….
Prize: Team gets $250 cash PLUS each member gets a PRO pass to DataWeek + API World

Housing Data: Make the data about the SF apartment / housing market more transparent. How much have prices gone up? How unusual are SF Bay prices for a major city? How have other cities fixed problems like these? How does SF city planning affect the housing crisis?
Prize: Team gets $250 cash PLUS each member gets a PRO pass to DataWeek + API World

People Meeting People: Help SF Bay citizens find dates by sharing local activities / interests together. This could be based on daily deals, on large group tweet-ups, on finding people already at the event you’re at, etc….
Prize: Team gets $250 cash PLUS each member gets a PRO pass to DataWeek + API World

Sustainable Farming: Enable the training, connecting, and sharing of how to start a rooftop or backyard garden, how to start your own local food business, how to support local agriculture / sustainability initiatives
Prize: Team gets $250 cash PLUS each member gets a PRO pass to DataWeek + API World

Data Science and Climate Change: Use data science, data visualization, or analytics to help people understand the real immediate crisis of climate change – what factors contribute to it – what are the realistic solutions – and what the timeframe of climate change looks like.
Prize: Team gets passes to DataWeek + API World PLUS $250 cash