State Department reels in a Fishackathon

Hackathons aren’t a new phenomenon in government: Groups of developers gather for a specified length of time to solve the world’s problems through coding. But a new initiative from the State Department will for the first time apply the hackathon concept to the problems facing the world’s oceans. 

Launching June 13 simultaneously across America, the first Fishackathon will bring together some of the world’s best coders to develop solutions for sustainable fisheries management in New York City, Silicon Valley, Boston, Baltimore and Miami.

The 24 to 48 hour Fishackathons will kick off the State Department’s Our Oceans Conference, scheduled for June 16 at the State Department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters.


“The Fishackathons partner fishery experts with technologists to create innovative technology which address sustainable fishery challenges,” the event’s website said. “Fishery experts will define the challenges to guide technologists in creating concrete solutions that will make real and sustainable impacts.”

CAST, a software analysis company and one of the event’s sponsors, will use its tool Highlight, which examines a developer’s code for potential risks, to evaluate participant’s entries for quality and reliability.

“Highlight assesses the code’s reliability, complexity, and maintainability based on rapid code scanning that identifies code patterns and anti-patterns to evaluate the applications potential risks and excessive complexity,” Pete Pizzutillo, worldwide director of product marketing at CAST, said in a release. “It’s crucial that the Fishackathon developers take into account the software risk and code quality of their apps at an early stage, and we’re happy to help manage that.”

Winners could receive a $5,000 cash price, or a trip to a fishery in the Phillippines, sponsored by the State Department’s Office of Global Partnerships.

Participants must register for the event in their respective location before attending. The Silicon Valley event is the only one, as of publication time, that is already at capacity.


“Few moments compare to the pressure-filled environments of hackathons, where the best developers from around the globe cram into a rented room with 24 hours to conceive, design, and create an app that wins a chance to present an idea, showcase talent, and gain invaluable exposure,” Pizzutillo said.

Jake Williams

Written by Jake Williams

Jake Williams is a Staff Reporter for FedScoop and StateScoop. At StateScoop, he covers the information technology issues and events at state and local governments across the nation. In the past, he has covered the United States Postal Service, the White House, Congress, cabinet-level departments and emerging technologies in the unmanned aircraft systems field for FedScoop. Before FedScoop, Jake was a contributing writer for Campaigns & Elections magazine. He has had work published in the Huffington Post and several regional newspapers and websites in Pennsylvania. A northeastern Pennsylvania native, Jake graduated magna cum laude from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, or IUP, in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in political science. At IUP, Jake was the editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Penn, and the president of the university chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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