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D[congestant] Hackathon, a new initiative by Toronto's South Core Innovation Hub takes on traffic

Feeling congested? You might be inadvertently reacting to Toronto’s permanent state of gridlock. Concerned with the traffic issues and economic impact on the downtown core, the South Core Innovation Hub will be hosting their first ever hackathon to tackle the beast. The event, aptly named D[congestant] Hackathon will be held on April 1st to 3rd, 2016, at at the new Cisco Innovation Centre. Teams will take on the ambitious challenge to solve Toronto’s gridlock problem, in particular the issues that impact businesses in the downtown core, in just 48 hours. Traffic congestion is responsible for countless productive hours lost in every day, and so the hackathon aims to rally nearly 200 minds and attack the problem head-on. 
The South Core Innovation Hub is made up of organizations that occupy the area and are directly impacted by the congestion issues, including Uber and PwC. The group gets together every month to discuss areas of improvement for their hub at the Maple Leaf Square area. In the past, the group has conducted tours and have hosted knowledge sharing sessions - but this is their first ever hackathon. 

“PwC recognized that many of their employees were spending a lot of time in traffic getting to and from the area,” Oz Nazilli, lead organizer of the hackathon told YongeStreet. says as he reflects on how the focus of traffic congestion for the hackathon came to be. 

Technology companies like Twitter and Google are on board to support the event. However, this hackathon is not just for technologists; this kind of challenge requires a diverse crowd at the table.

With the help of the community, South Core Innovation Hub hopes to uncover realistic solutions to reduce time spent in traffic with material impact that would be feasible to implement. Prizes to the winning teams include cash rewards, a chance to work with Cisco to further develop the idea, a handful of community memberships to Centre for Social Innovation, and arguably the most exciting prize of all – an opportunity to pilot the winning idea with the help from PwC and the Mayor’s office. Judging panel will include Jim Orlando, OMERS Ventures managing director; Stephen Buckley, head of City of Toronto Transportation and Urban Planning, who has been very vocal on the issue of congestion and has been involved with similar hackathons like TrafficJam in the past; and Dr. Raktim Mitra of Ryerson University, an urban planner with expertise and interests in land use-transportation planning and healthy communities planning.
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