Peter Nestor, Manager, Advisory Services, BSR

For the second year in a row, we will host the BSR Sustainability Hackathon in conjunction with the BSR Conference 2014 in New York. The hackathon, which takes place November 1-2, the weekend before the Conference, emphasizes “hacking for good”—with hackers building technology applications that provide tangible benefits for the world.

The teams at this year’s hackathon—which is sponsored by Qualcomm Incorporated and will be held at Brooklyn’s Urban Future Lab—are encouraged to hack on a platform of their choice for a solution that provides environmental or social benefits. Hackathon veterans NYC Economic Development Corporation, the organizers of NYC Big Apps, and GitHub, are offering hack ideas and prizes to the top teams.

We will select three finalists during a closing “demo dinner” on Sunday November 2, and those teams will present their apps to an audience of more than 1,000 sustainable business leaders on the closing day of the BSR Conference, Thursday November 6. Prizes include US$7,000 in cash and GitHub membership plans for the top three teams

As demonstrated at the 2013 BSR Hackathon, just hacking overnight can produce real solutions. Last year’s winning team, WattTime, a group of four friends who met at a previous sustainability hackathon, developed an app to monitor peak times for wind power coming onto the electrical grid in the Northeast corridor. Following the BSR hackathon, the team founded a nonprofit organization to continue working on this and other products. They recently partnered with University of California at Merced to deploy new “smart plugs” in the university’s electric fleet that can automatically switch to clean energy when it senses a surplus on the power grid.

ProductBio, last year’s runner-up, developed a crowdsourcing app to help companies determine which sustainable supply chain practices are most important to their stakeholders. ProductBio is now in the Code for America Accelerator program and continuing to develop related product ideas. Last year’s third-place winners, Team Baja, met at our event and built a mobile app called “We Can Help” for community residents to share resources during emergencies like earthquakes or storms.

We encourage BSR member companies and others to form their own teams: Simply register on our website or show up on Saturday November 1 to join a team or pitch an idea. If you can’t make the event, please submit an idea via our online submission form. Some ideas that have worked well in the past are apps that visualize large sets of data, apps that connect remote workers on a common platform, or apps that transform a large amount of data into a useful interface.

We encourage all ideas—you never know who might be inspired to help solve it!

For more information about the BSR Sustainability Hackathon, visit http://bsr14.org/hackathon.