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Programming team creates concepts for Joplin city website as part of ‘Hackathon’

Computer science sophomores Tyler Juch and Chris Shafer and seniors Giancarlo Devich and Michael Fitzpatrick competed among nine teams of web programmers and designers from the Midwest in the Joplin Hackathon. Their website concepts for the city of Joplin earned them first place in the Emergency Management Functionality category and an honorable mention in the Community Engagement Functionality category. Photo courtesy of CivicPlus

As the city of Joplin, Mo., nears the one-year anniversary of a deadly EF-5 tornado that ripped through the city’s center, organizers sponsored an event that brought together website developers from area businesses and universities to create a new website for the city of Joplin. The disaster was at the forefront of sponsors’ minds as the Joplin “Hackathon” contest’s goals were shaped.

Four University of Missouri College of Engineering students, computer science sophomores Tyler Juch and Chris Shafer and seniors Giancarlo Devich and Michael Fitzpatrick, made up a team that received a first place award for their concepts surrounding emergency management, and an honorable mention for community engagement.

Sponsored by CivicPlus, a web development company that specializes in local government websites, the contest lasted 45 hours beginning at 5 p.m. April 27, and ending at 2 p.m. April 29. Teams were tasked with creating new concepts for Joplin’s city website and were judged on three main criteria: emergency management functionality, community engagement functionality and design.

Team Mizzou’s presentation focused on the emergency management and community engagement functionalities. The team’s community engagement concepts included areas where website visitors can submit ideas to the web administrators, which can be approved and turned into discussion topics, and it allows for a more personalized presence on the website from users and administrators.

The emergency management concepts centered on using the website as a means to obtain news and alerts. An alert system was created where users could sign up for either text, phone call or email alerts. There also was a feature that placed a single alert on the top of each of the website’s pages.

The team received $1,000 for its first place ranking. CivicPlus will use some of the concepts created by all the teams to populate a new website for the city of Joplin, which will launch in time for the one-year anniversary of the May 22, 2011, tornado.

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