TalaTek Supports First Annual Smart City Challenge

New Pitch-Style Innovation Competition Concludes with Five Winners Named

The first annual Smart City Challenge, hosted by Smart City Works, Refraction, Fairfax County, Girls in Tech DC, Virginia Tech, The Universities at Shady Grove, recently held the hackathon-style innovation competition that brought teams together to tackle the toughest issues facing smart cities. Running from January 23 to February 18, each team had almost a month to develop potential solutions in such crucial sectors as housing, transportation, health, broadband, energy, education, water, infrastructure and public safety.

At the competition’s end, they had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of expert judges. Event organizers provided the teams with data and resources as well as mentors who met with them to offer advice and expertise. TalaTek was pleased to serve as an event sponsor.

Throughout the month, the Challenge held virtual discussions with key business, government and nonprofit leaders on housing, clean energy, public-private partnerships, and sustainability. They also held weekly open forums so teams could ask questions, network, and connect with Smart City Challenge organizations and other participants.

TalaTek founder and president, Baan Alsinawi, was a co-moderator of the Women Leaders in Smart City Innovation virtual panel, hosted by Girls in Tech, D.C., where Alsinawi serves as co-managing director. Panelists included Kathleen Griggs, president and founder of Databuoy; Marianne Meins, senior vice president of  Onclave Networks, Inc. and a member of the board of trustees of Capitol Technology University; Lindsey Parker, chief technology officer of the District of Columbia; and Kiersten Todt, president and managing partner, Liberty Group Ventures LLC, and managing director for the Cyber Readiness Institute. They used their time to highlight both leading-edge “smart” solutions and untapped opportunities for the Washington, D.C., metro region and beyond. They also offered their perspectives on developing collaborative partnerships between government, the private sector, higher education and community leaders to affect high-impact change.

Todt addressed the importance of cybersecurity in smart city development and implementation. “I am a big believer that cybersecurity is not a partisan issue — so when we look at its prioritization and the way that’s integrated into all that we do, we’ve got to take an all-hand-on-deck approach and bring industry and government together,” she said.

Smart City Challenge winning teams were announced at the Challenge finale and awards event February 25. Competition winners were the Autonomous Incident Response System, Databuoy, TRAXyl, VIA, and student team Haven.

The winning teams were selected based on innovation, regional impact, practicality of application, and equity and inclusivity by a judging panel of smart city experts. Fairfax County pilot winners were the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation, with History through AR; and WishKnish Corp., with KnishKits. The winning teams were awarded more than $350,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.

“I am so excited that TalaTek and Girls in Tech, D.C., participated in this important initiative. We know the event will bring great awareness to innovation in smart city capabilities and beyond. We already looking forward to next year’s event,” Alsinawi said.

To learn more about Smart City Works and the 2021 Smart City Works Challenge, visit https://www.smartcityworks.org/scc2021/