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State of North Dakota Wins Multi-State Hackfest
Post Date: Apr 03 2018

By ND Information Technology Department
A cross-team group of participants from North Dakota’s Information Technology Department, the North Dakota University System, Department of Commerce, and private sector partner Nexus Innovations won a multi-state “hackfest” competition last week using technology to solve real-world problems.
The competition, hosted by Microsoft, involved seven state and local government teams from four states who self-identified challenges and worked to develop technology solutions using Microsoft Power BI as well as Microsoft Azure Platform as a Service (PaaS) data, machine learning and artificial intelligence components.  The North Dakota team was focused on three key scenarios to further develop the community dashboard that was rolled out in beta at the Main Street ND Summit in February.  These scenarios included:
  • Smart, secure updating and maintenance of city-driven data;
  • Long-term-viable solution for acquisition, storage and modeling of data from federal, state, county, and city sources
  • Meaningful data delivery to primary users including on-screen visualization, print and download. 
“Our team came prepared. We had the right people in the room and that elevated our ability to make meaningful progress on our initiative,” said North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley. “This is a great example of working as one across Team ND and empowering leadership everywhere, as well as harnessing technology to reinvent government and better serve our citizens and communities.”
The teams were scored on criteria including: creativity and vision, solutioning with multiple PaaS components and data sourcing. The Indiana Supreme Court came in 2nd; the city of Austin, TX Public Health came in 3rd; and Dakota County Minnesota came in 4th. As the contest winner, North Dakota will receive two free days of consulting services with two Microsoft specialists who will work side-by-side with the state team sharing best practices and helping in the evolution of the dashboard and its underlying technology platform.
The community dashboard provides community leaders publicly available, but not always easy to find, information that can be used to help grow healthy, vibrant, financially solvent communities. The beta release shared in February focused on basic economic and demographic information. The April release will provide a broad set of livability metrics, and in June the information will be editable by select community leaders, if they choose to participate.  The information will be available for printing or download. 
“The Hackfest was a super experience for the team,” said Holly Holt, senior manager of strategic initiatives at the North Dakota Department of Commerce. “Since the release of the beta six weeks ago we’ve been humbled by the positive response and actionable feedback from our communities. This is a win for the citizens who will use the functionality developed through the event, but also for the community leaders who have educated us on what’s important and continue challenging us to think at a city level.  When they say their community is deriving value from the dashboard, then we’ve really won.”

For more information on the Main Street Initiative, the dashboard and resources available, please see www.mainstreetnd.com
Photo caption: A cross-cutting team from North Dakota’s Information Technology Department, Commerce Department, Nexus Innovations and North Dakota University System participated in a virtual hackfest on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 in Bismarck, ND. The team beat six other teams from four states by advancing the Main Street Initiative Community Dashboard, which was released in beta in February at the Main Street ND Summit. Photo credit: Corina Abbatoye.
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