Graffiti-fighting drone creators win Unleash Your Geek

San José is a beautiful city, but it’s difficult not to notice the growing amount of unsightly graffiti on monuments and buildings. Together with ProspectSV, Mayor Sam Liccardo sought innovative solutions to the San José graffiti problem. Launched last year, the first Unleash Your Geek contest called upon Bay Area students, innovators, and organizations to develop a rapidly deployable solution to dramatically reduce the cost of graffiti cleanups for the City of San José.

At the 3rd Annual Innovate Your State Civic and Gov Tech Showcase, hosted this year in San José, Mayor Sam Liccardo announced the winning team of Unleash Your Geek. The winners — San Jose residents Christopher Farmer and Candace Marbury — modified a drone that sprays paint to clean graffiti from hard-to-reach places, such as highway overpasses and tall buildings.

This winning team will receive $5,000, assistance in obtaining a patent and the city as a test partner for the technology.

“Unleash Your Geek is part of an incredible wave of civic innovation in San José, and it’s especially exciting to see residents of Silicon Valley using their tech skills to help the community reach its full potential,” said Jessica Weare, Microsoft’s philanthropy and civic engagement manager.

“Microsoft proudly joins this cross-sector group of collaborators — including Mayor Liccardo’s office, Prospect Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and individual innovators — in celebrating San José and Unleash Your Geek.”  

Unleash Your Geek is proof that when city governments, foundations, citizens and the private sector work together, amazing civic innovations can result to help address our most pressing urban challenges. Stay tuned for Mayor Liccardo’s Unleash Your Geek Challenge 2.0, addressing the question: “How can the city use water sensors to predict and manage floods?”

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: The City’s website is

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