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Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon

About the Challenge
Join us at our Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon, let's work together to keep our Earth Green and Clean.

Posted By: General Services Administration
Category: Software/Apps
Partnership With: Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Environmental Quality
Environmental Protection Agency
General Services Administration
National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Forest Service
Department of Agriculture
Submission Dates: 9 a.m. ET, Apr 22, 2016 - 4:30 p.m. ET, Apr 22, 2016 Judging Dates: Apr 22, 2016 - Apr 22, 2016 Winners Announced: Apr 22, 2016


The General Services Administration (GSA) is committed to being green, because we believe a green planet is a happy planet.  At GSA, we know that sustainability helps federal agencies meet their missions today, without sacrificing their ability to serve future generations.  But we can’t do it without you!  That’s why we’re inviting you to participate in the Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon, hosted by GSA’s Office of Citizen Services, and, Innovative Technologies and 18F (OCSIT/18F).  We hope to see you on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, as we work together to keep our planet green and clean.

The goal of this competition is to have industry, academia and government develop smart technology solutions in the form of an application, application programming interface (API), web/mobile application, data mashup, and dashboards that have the capability to provide GSA with key insights and recommendations for future enhancements.

All coders, developers, designers, engineers, data scientists, and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from industry, academia, and federal government are invited to participate.  Participants will be competing on self-selected teams to develop smart technology solutions.

GSA’s OCSIT/18F Organization will be partnering with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the General Services Administration (GSA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the United States Forest Service (USFS).

PROJECTS – Listed below are the agency challenges that will be presented at the Earth Day Hackathon:

White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)

  • Federal Dashboard on Sustainable Purchasing: Create a visual dashboard on sustainable purchasing by agencies using data captured in the government-wide procurement system.  Show which agencies are putting their dollars towards environmentally sustainable products and services.
  • Assessment of Wildfire Hazard Location for Federal and Public Users: Create a website or app that allows federal agencies or the public to assess whether or not their property is located in an area of wildfire risk as defined by the Wildland Urban Interface guidelines.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • Develop a Method to Identify Fraudulent Reporting to the EPA: Using Benford’s law of statistical probability, build a tool to scan environmental data from industries or other regulated entities to identify potential cases of fraudulent reporting.
  • Tailored UV Index Forecast for Beaches: The UV Index, a numeric index of the strength of cancer-causing UV rays from the sun, is a forecast produced by the National Weather Service.  The forecast data are run through the EPA’s Envirofacts and put out to the public through our app and widget.  The app has been featured on nationwide media and TV.  Develop code that can be deployed on Android and iOS mobile apps that displays UV Index forecast information specific to a defined beach.
  • Climate Change Indicators Report: The Office of Air has published several climate-related indicators and datasets.  Develop improved data visualizations or a consolidated dashboard associated with the climate change indicator data.
  • Geofence Application to Improve Environmental Awareness: Develop a mobile app that improves environmental awareness through the use of geo-fences.  User would get a push notification of the presence of a green infrastructure project, wilderness area, habitat restoration or other projects from Geo Grants that the EPA has funded.


  • Simplifying Sustainable Procurement: Make it easier for purchasers to buy green products by filling out procurement forms automatically while shopping on the web.
  • Sustainable Decision-Making for Building Project Management: Build a streamlined management tool to help teams collaborate and incorporate sustainability into any building project.
  • Sustainable Facility Camera App: Build an app that allows a user to take a photo of products, building materials, and systems and receive green tips and sustainable purchasing information.
  • Sustainable Reordering: Help purchasers order green products while out in the world or checking physical inventory via a barcode-scanning app that populated procurement forms.  Phone application that allows a user to scan a barcode, looks up the product and notifies the user whether it meets latest sustainability requirements.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

  • Environmentally Friendly Product Selection Web Interface API: Our goal for the competition, is to develop a new web application that allows for selection and comparison of building products across their economic and environmental performance based on the user’s specific needs and preferences.  The application should be able to collect user inputs from a graphical user interface, use those inputs to select data from a database or csv files, apply some business rules on the data and then display the data in the form of a graph, table and downloadable data file.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Offering Dynamic Climate Normals for Custom Applications: An API, browser extension or add-on (for Internet Explorer or Chrome) that allows users to compute their custom normals from NOAA’s records of surface temperature and precipitation.
  • Enabling Discovery of NOAA NEXRAD Data on the Commercial Cloud: An API that allows users to easily find NEXRAD data that is pertinent to their application.
  • Exploiting NOAA’s New Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) Precipitation and Severe Weather Mosaic Products: An app, browser extension or add-on (for Internet Explorer or Chrome) that allows users to visualize and/or compute on NOAA’s records of severe weather and precipitation.


  • Energy and Water Use in Forest Service Facilities:  Develop methods to present and compare performance on energy and water use in Forest Service facilities.  Using existing data from several sources, integrate the data and perform analysis to present absolute and relative performance in an easy-to-understand fashion, allowing “apples-to-apples” comparisons.

U.S. Forest Service

  • Develop a web and phone app tool that assigns a “shade index” to neighborhoods:  Develop a prototype of a tool that allows users to quickly and easily access shade scores for any neighborhood in the United States.  Ideally this tool would be available on the web and as a phone app.

EVENT POC:  Ms. Cindy A. Smith at, or (816) 823-5291.



Phaedra Chrousos
Associate Admin for Citizen Services Innovative Technologies & 18F
Christine Harada
Robin Thottungal
Katie Kale
Chief of Staff, GSA
Amy Gaskins
Tyrone Granderson
Judging Criteria

Technical competence and capabilities - 50%

The solution addresses the primary goals of the Hackathon. It is a finished product that can provide insightful analysis and show the government how to enhance/improve existing functions, share data across federal agencies and more efficiently utilize existing applications.

Use of data to provide effective outcomes - 20%

The solution displays in a way that is easy to understand, visually appealing and will help drive understanding of current trends as well as recommendations.

Creativity/Innovation - 10%

The solution exceeds any internal capability that GSA has for analysis of data through its incorporation of creative design elements and innovative capabilities.

Valuable information and insights regarding data - 20%

The solver provides recommendations for additional data elements to be collected by the government. The solver identifies gaps in the data and utilizes external data sources and research to aid the government in setting future data collection policies.

How to Enter

Registration for this event can  be accomplished online at the following link:  Only 1 Ticket per participant is allowed for the Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon.  Any completed registrations with more than 1 Ticket selected shall be canceled, and the participant shall receive an email asking them to complete the registration process again.

The event space is limited to the first 200 people; once registration is complete, participants will receive a confirmation email.  Registration for this event will close Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. (EST).

A government-issued ID (Drivers License, ID Badge, etc) shall be required to gain access into the building.  All participants must enter through the main entrance located on 1800 F Street, NW.

If you have any questions please contact Cindy A. Smith at: or 816-823-5291.





$15,000.00 GSA may award prizes of no more than $1,000 to each member of a winning team (3 team’s total). GSA is not required to award all prizes if the judges determine that a smaller number of entries meet the scope and requirements laid out for this competition, or if the agency only plans to use code from a smaller number of entries. Funding for the Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon award will come from GSA. Prizes will be awarded to the winner(s) of the competition via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), within 60 days of announcing the winner(s). Completion of the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) form requires the following information: • Name of your Financial Institution (Bank) • Taxpayer ID Number (TIN) / Social Security Number • Phone Number for your Financial Institution (Bank) • Routing Number for your Checking or Savings Account • Account Number for your Checking or Savings Account

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Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon Rules and Guidance

This document contains information on:

  1.    Registration
  2.   Details of Challenge
  3.    Data
  4.   Prizes
  5.   Eligibility
  6.   Requirements
  7.   Scope

GSA announces a software programming and data innovation competition hosted by the Office of Citizen Services, and Innovative Technologies and 18F (OCSIT/18F),  on April 22, 2016,  at the GSA Central Office Building, 1800 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20405.  The competition will be open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with on-site registration beginning at 8:30 a.m., all competition details can be viewed at .    

1. REGISTRATION:  Registration for this event will be accomplished online at the following link shall remain open until Tuesday, April 19, 2016, (11:59 p.m. EST).  The event space is limited to the first 200 people; once registration is complete you shall receive a confirmation email.  Only 1 ticket is allowed per person, if more than 1 ticket is selected, the registration will be cancelled and the individual will need to submit their registration again.

All participants are required to check in with Security upon arriving at the GSA Central Office Building, 1800 F Street NW, Washington, DC.  A Government issued ID shall be required to gain access into the Building.  Once through Security follow the posted signs to Conference Center Rooms 1459, 1460, and 1461.  Participants are required to stop at the on-site Registration table to sign the required form : Gratuitous Service Agreement.

2. DETAILS OF CHALLENGE:  Design and create a digital interactive solution in the form of an application, application programming interface (API), and/or data mashup that utilizes federal data collected.  The technology solution should be innovative!  GSA does not want an analysis tool that tells what is already known, rather they should be forward-thinking solutions that enhance transparency.  

The solution should accomplish two tasks:

  1.    Visually display or transmit data in a way that will enhance the way federal government works; and  
  2.     Identify relationships through the analysis of the data, if they exist, while providing valuable insights that could be gained through improved data collection efforts.

3. DATA:  Participants will be provided all final project ideas, existing code, and publicly available datasets in advance of the event.  Event information will be posted on the following page, :, and will be updated as necessary.


  • Database Coding (e.g., SQL language)
  • Experience using Data Visualization software (e.g. Tableau, MicroStrategy, etc.)
  • Web and Application Developers
  • User Experience (UX) Designers
  • Data Scientists

4. PRIZES:  GSA may award prizes of no more than $1,000 to each member of a winning team (3 team’s total).  GSA is not required to award all prizes if the judges determine that a smaller number of entries meet the scope and requirements laid out for this competition, or if the agency only plans to use code from a smaller number of entries. 

Funding for this Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon will come from GSA.  Prizes will be awarded to each member of a winning team via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), within 60 days of announcing the winner(s). 

5. ELIGIBILITY :  Eligibility to participate in the Government-wide Earth Day Hackathon and win a prize is limited to entities/individuals:

  • That have registered to participate in the competition and complied with the rules of the competition as explained in this posting; and
  • That have been incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, the participant must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.

Participants may not be a federal entity or federal employee acting within the scope of employment.  However, an individual or entity shall not be deemed ineligible to win prize money because the individual or entity used federal facilities or consulted with federal employees during a competition if the facilities and employees are made available to all individuals and entities participating in the competition on an equitable basis.

Participants agree to assume any and all risks and waive claims against the federal government and its related entities, except in the case of willful misconduct, for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits, whether direct, indirect, or consequential, arising from participation in this competition, whether the injury, death, damage, or loss arose through negligence or otherwise.  Entrants are not required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility in order to participate in this Hackathon.      

As the Federal Government is under a strict duty not to give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual, participants must agree to take diligent care to avoid the appearance of Federal Government endorsement of competition participation and submission.  Participants must agree not to refer to to the Federal Government’s use of your submission (be it product or service) in any commercial advertising or similar promotions in a manner that could reasonably imply (in the judgment of a reasonable person) that the GSA or the Federal Government endorses, prefers, sponsors, or has an affiliation with participants’ products or services.  Participants agree that GSA’s trademarks, logos, service marks, trade names, or the fact that GSA awarded a prize to a participant, shall not be used by the participant to imply direct GSA endorsement of participant or participant’s submission.  Both participants and GSA may list the other party’s name in a publicly available customer or other list so long as the name is not displayed in a more prominent fashion than any other third-party name.

6. REQUIREMENTS:  The final solution should be open source code and placed on a GSA site to be specified to participants the day of the event. “Open source” refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge.  In order to be Open Source Initiative Certified, the solution must meet the following ten criteria:

  1. The author or holder of the license of the source code cannot collect royalties on the distribution of the program.
  2. The distributed program must make the source code accessible to the user.
  3. The author must allow modifications and derivations of the work under the program’s original name.
  4. No person, group, or field of endeavor can be denied access to the program.
  5. The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program being part of a particular software distribution.
  6. The licensed software cannot place restrictions on other software that is distributed with it.
  7. The solution must be an online, interactive solution that meets the goals and objectives provided in this document.
  8.  The solution must include documentation of all data sources used.
  9.  The solution must include a description of how the solution can be updated with additional data from other agencies.
  10.  The solver must provide recommendations to enhance Government insights through improvement in data collection.

The winner(s) of the competition will, in consideration of the prize(s) to be awarded, grant to GSA a perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use any and all intellectual property to the winning entry for any governmental purpose, including the right to permit such use by any other agency or agencies of the federal government.  All other rights of the winning entrant will be retained by the winner of the competition.  

7. SCOPE:  Any federal data and information that is publicly available is included in the scope of this challenge.  Final project ideas, existing code, and public datasets will be provided in advance of the event.

Submit Solution
Submissions for this competition are being accepted on a third-party site. Please visit the external site for instructions on submitting: http://GitHub
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