San Diego Business Journal

Three startups were named winners on June 18 from a hackathon to help the City of San Diego solve some of its biggest challenges. RoadReader, FreshStart and Chalk were selected as the top three winners of Ignite - SCALE- San Diego.

Teams that participated in the three-day hackathon in April were tasked with finding solutions for adaptive transportation, city planning, and food access in low- and medium-income neighborhoods. The winners received cash prizes and will have access to mentorship and networking opportunities across the public and private sectors.

RoadReader, a startup using computer vision and crowdsourced data to make roads safer, took the first place prize. FreshStart, a food rescue app that connects donors with food banks, won second place. In third was Chalk, a startup working on optimizing city permitting.

Daniel Obodovski, co-founder and managing partner of local smart cities accelerator SCALE San Diego, said he was “blown away” by the talent that participated in the program. The challengers ranged from students to data scientists to urban planners, to name a few.

“We congratulate all of the winners, and in particular, RoadReader for its fresh approach to detecting and reporting road conditions,” he said in a news release. “They will continue to get the mentoring and support they need to grow their concept into an actionable program for the City or incubated into new ventures.”

The program was launched by SCALE San Diego, in conjunction with the City of San Diego and U.S. Ignite, a nonprofit developing public-private partnerships to further the development of smart cities. Cox Communications also helped fund the program.

“The more we can encourage this level of innovation, and share these new applications across a network of communities, the faster we can solve real problems at scale,” US Ignite Chief Technology Officer Glenn Ricart said in a news release. "Congratulations to this year’s challenge winners. We look forward to further development iterations and to the potential for seeing these applications implemented not just in San Diego, but in communities across the country.”