hack/reduce Organizes First-Ever Department of Defense (DoD) Hackathon

NEWS RELEASE – The US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC), big data nonprofit hack/reduce, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts are teaming up to convene a hackathon to develop a mobile app that will help soldiers visualize nutrition information in combat rations.  Nearly 100 participants will compete in this challenge on Friday, June 28, 2013 at the hack/reduce space in Kendall Square, Cambridge.

The goal of the Hackathon for Combat Feeding Mobile Apps is to make nutrition data readily available and accessible to military service members, dietitians and other decision makers throughout the Department of Defense.  This will be the federal Department of Defense’s first mobile hackathon.

“The US Army NSRDEC is interested in leveraging innovation mechanisms that are common and successful in the entrepreneurial community but not yet widely used in the federal government,” explains Michael Brown from DoD Combat Feeding Directorate within the NSRDEC. “Currently, the nutritional information for combat rations is not available in an easily accessible format, so inquiries are handled on a case-by-case basis by DoD nutritional experts; and with over 30 million combat rations purchased each year for American troops, we think that they should have access to this data in an interactive, fun and mobile environment.  We are excited to engage with the community around hack/reduce to access the rich pool of data visualization talent.  Ultimately, our goal is find the most innovative way to present this nutritional data to the DoD community, potentially leading to increased combat effectiveness for our troops deployed around the world.”

In support of the June 28 hackathon, the DoD Combat Feeding Program will provide a previously unreleased data set, as well as a set of parameters for the solution; participants will then pitch their innovative ideas and form into teams.  Teams will have 24 hours to complete their projects.  The hackathon ends with project presentations and the selection of winners by judges from both the DoD community and the Massachusetts entrepreneurial community. A featured speaker will be Tony Parham, Government Innovation Officer (GIO), Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who will be speaking about the importance of open data.

“Data visualization is an important part of generating value from Big Data, by integrating complex data and analytics into an easy-to-use and easy-to-understand interface,” explains Chris Lynch, founder of hack/reduce and a partner at Atlas Venture.  “This hackathon is an opportunity to show the military the power of open data and the value our tech community can add.  We are thrilled to host the first DoD hackathon and hope it is the first of many.”  hack/reduce is providing the space and mentors, with experience in Big Data visualization, to assist teams.

The hackathon is sponsored by the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Mass Development and Kinvey.

“Governor Patrick’s Big Data Initiative strengthens our tech economy through programs like this hackathon,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “These kinds of collaborations show our state’s exceptional talent pool in big data, our strong tech community, and our collaborative public-private approach to tackling big challenges. We’ll look forward to seeing some exciting outcomes that will demonstrate the value of mobile technology while benefiting our armed forces.”

First prize is $3,000 cash, a one-year to SoftLayer Cloud Computing and recognition as the winner of the first-event DoD Hackathon.  Second prize is $2,000 cash, third prize is $1,000 cash; and the top three teams will have the unique opportunity to see the science behind the soldier on a VIP tour of the US Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC).  All hackathon participants will receive three months’ of Kinvey’s BaaS (Backend as a Service) Developer Edition service free.  For more information and to register for the hackathon, visit http://combatfeedinghackreduce.eventbrite.com/.

About the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center

The Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center (NSRDEC) is located in Natick, MA under the Army’s Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM).  They have the dedicated mission to maximize the Warrior’s survivability, sustainability, mobility, combat effectiveness and quality of life by treating the Soldier as a System.  The Department of Defense (DoD) Combat Feeding Directorate (CFD) within NSRDEC executes a DoD-wide program responsible for meeting the unique combat feeding requirements for the United States Military. This includes all efforts — research, development, integration, testing and engineering for combat rations, field food service equipment and complete combat feeding systems. The CFD is responsible for management and execution of all science and technology programs, and advanced and full-scale development for Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force field food service equipment as well as combat rations for all four Services. NSRDEC is the leader in empowering the world’s most capable Soldiers.


About hack/reduce

hack/reduce is Boston’s big data hacker space. A 501 c3 non-profit, hack/reduce provides the community of students, data scientists, industry professionals, and other enthusiasts the space and the resources – intense compute power, large data sets, and subject matter experts – that are critical for making new big data discoveries.  A key element of Governor Patrick’s Mass Big Data Initiative, it is supported by the Mass Tech Collaborative, along with many of Greater Boston’s venture capital and technology leaders, with the goal of cultivating a critical mass of Big Data talent and innovation in Greater Boston. Visit www.hackreduce.org.



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