Unleash Your Geek! Create Solutions for Urban Challenges

 |   Jessica Weare

GEEKS_Go_v2

San José is growing and changing every day, and there’s always something new to explore: the city’s incredible collection of public outdoor art, some of the best poke bowls in the Bay Area, and the newly revitalized Plaza de Cesar Chavez.  But not all of the public spaces in the city are equally beautiful: the city does have a growing amount of unsightly graffiti on monuments and buildings, often in hard-to-reach areas, which distracts from the beauty and successes of the city.

Together with ProspectSV, Mayor Sam Liccardo is looking for solutions to San José graffiti problem. The City of San José is calling for YOU to bring forward your innovative ideas, prototype them, and put them to action. The Unleash Your Geek challenge is focused on graffiti removal from overpasses, freeway signs, sound walls, tall buildings and railroad trestles. In phase one, a panel of judges will select as many as four ideas to receive up to $20,000 to prototype their ideas, working in the ProspectSV Technology Demonstration Center. Solutions might include civic technology like data visualization, sensors, and even drones.

“Current graffiti removal methods requires Caltrans to shut down the highway late at night, which often adds to the bill,” said San José Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We’re looking for the kind of disruptive technology that this area is so famous for. Today, we might spend $60,000 to clean up graffiti in a hard-to-reach location, but we believe the brilliant minds in our community can reduce that dramatically.”

Microsoft and ProspectSV join partners who launched the competition, including Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Caltrans. Microsoft will sponsor ProspectSV Startup Support Services, which will provide the four potential winners of phase 1 with workshop space and consulting services to prototype their ideas. The ProspectSV Technology Demonstration Center provides lab facilities, a co-working office, high-bay workshop space, shared tools and equipment. Further benefits will include participation in existing events and workshops provided to ProspectSV startup clients. The grand prize winner will receive $5,000, assistance in obtaining a patent, and the city as a test partner for the technology.

The best solutions to pressing urban problems come from collaborative efforts like #UnleashYourGeek. We’re excited to be part of a team that includes city government, foundations, citizens, and the private sector working together. Even more, we’re eager to see how civic innovators use technology to provide cutting-edge yet low-cost solutions for the city’s graffiti removal efforts.

Learn more about the Unleash Your Geek program at https://herox.com/sjgraffiti. The deadline to submit a team is 5 p.m., Sept. 30, 2016.

About Prospect Silicon Valley

ProspectSV is a nonprofit urbantech innovation hub focused on solutions for smarter, cleaner cities. We bring government, corporations and academia together with start-ups, product teams and expert staff to accelerate innovations in transportation, energy and the built environment. ProspectSV provides a full spectrum of commercialization support including market and technical insight, connections to partners and investors, pilot opportunities as well as access to a $12 million, 23,000 sq. ft. Technology Demonstration Center with working and industrial space, lab facilities and specialized equipment. In partnership with state and local governments, ProspectSV demonstrates and scales leading edge solutions, resulting in the avoidance of nearly 150 million lbs. of CO2 in the coming decade. With projects in over 50 cities, leveraging over $50 million in funding and financing, and with more than 25 corporate sponsors, ProspectSV is the only organization with the ability to both prove and apply solutions for next generation cities. For more information visit prospectsv.org.

About the City of San José

Known as the Capital of Silicon Valley, San José is the nation’s tenth largest city, and the largest city in Northern California, with an ethnically diverse population of more than one million. San José was founded in 1777, once served as the state capital of California, and now encompasses 180 square miles. Facts about San José can be found here: www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/780. The City’s website is www.sanjoseca.gov.

Jessica Weare

Since joining Microsoft in 2012, Jessica has driven Microsoft’s philanthropic work in Silicon Valley, including grant making and employee engagement. As Philanthropy and Civic Engagement Manager, she now focuses on civic engagement projects in San Jose and Santa Clara County. In 2014, Jessica worked closely with Silicon Valley Community Foundation to launch the region’s first-ever online day of giving, Silicon Valley Gives, which raised more than $8 million in 24 hours and benefitted over 650 non-profits in the Bay Area. Jessica joined Microsoft after completing her Ph.D. in literature at Stanford University.