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App to navigate farmers’ markets wins upstate challenge

Alex Crichton/WXXI News

The winners of the Rochester Institute of Technology/AT&T "Civic App Challenge" were announced at RIT's MAGIC (Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity) Center Tuesday.  

The Grand Prize winners for the New Civic App category was Nick Evesky of Webster and Peter Traeg of Greece who took home $5,000 for their "Public Market Guide" app which "contains social media, event and venue information on farmers markets around the county."

The prize announcement closes a two month hackathon in which developers worked to build smartphone apps that serve community needs.

“I think everything went really well but I’d definitely like to see some more ambitious apps next year,” said Honorable Mention winner Mihir Singh.  “I’d like to see some more work on new apps and less existing apps getting tidied up.”

RIT President Bill Destler opened the event with a brief speech that highlighted Rochester's place in the evolving "technology and app-creation" landscape as well as the overall goal of the challenge itself.

"[The challenge] is very much in line with the mission of our MAGIC Center: to better engage with the community, incorporate issues surrounding visual media and to impact both the region and the nation." Said Destler.

In comments event sponsor AT&T Public Affairs Director Neil Giacobbi addressed Rochester's increased standing in the tech world.

"I think that the quality of the apps that won here today speak to the quality of the event," said Giacobbi.  "What we saw was quality, diversity and a passion for local issues in the Rochester area which is the point we're trying to make."

"There is an enormous unanswered demand for app programmers and developers and because of institutions like RIT every year graduating students with enormous capability frequently go out and get jobs somewhere else. Our point is that they could stay and do this work right in Rochester, you could sell your app to Google or Apple and still produce it right here.  These are the types of jobs and focuses we'd like our decision makers to take a look at."

In the Existing App category, Marissa McDowell, an RIT graduate student and Jonathan Markowicz of Rochester took home the $5,125 Grand Prize for their "CityWhisk" app which "allows the user to create an entertainment itinerary using information on a variety of businesses and attractions."

"I thought everything went great, but of course any time you do an event like this you think about things you could tweak or how you could do it differently," said Andy Phelps, director of RIT's MAGIC Center.

"I think overall, however, we were successful in our main goal which was just to get people to innovate."

"Moving forward it would be great to be able to pair people up and partner them with more regional venues."

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