Chattanooga, Tenn. (June 24, 2015) – Our oceans make life on land possible by producing most of the oxygen we breathe and supplying the greatest percentage of the world’s protein in our diets.
More than 3.5 billion people depend on the ocean for their primary source of food, but unfortunately 80% of the world’s fish stocks are already over-exploited. These numbers can make sustainable seafood challenges seem mind-boggling, but even in land-locked Chattanooga people are rising up to help solve some of the challenges through technology and making wise seafood choices.
Prior to World’s Ocean Day on June 8th, the Tennessee Aquarium was one of only 12 locations in the world that hosted “Fishackathon,” an initiative led by the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Partnerships.
A group of computer coders, developers and designers gathered at the Aquarium for 24 hours to devise solutions to needs that were identified for the event.
“Coders are being asked to put themselves in the boots of the men and women who work in small-scale operations and think about the challenges they face,” said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a video welcome message sent to the Fishackathon participants. Secretary Kerry noted that, “New technology has an enormous potential of applications that have not yet been explored.”
During the first Fishackathon last year, mobile applications were developed that make it easier to report illegal fishing, register boats and to accurately track catches. All of these projects ultimately help fishermen and governments manage fish populations.
Chattanooga has a growing reputation as a technology hub and local coders showed they’re among the world’s best by overcoming some daunting challenges to produce three impressive tools during this year’s event.
One team created an easy to use interface, based on the popular “20 questions” game, that helps fishermen quickly and accurately identify species that are caught anywhere in the world.
Another group focused its efforts on the consumer’s role in promoting sustainable seafood. Its prototype website, “Sustainable Suppers,” was inspired by the Aquarium's Serve & Protect program seeking to guide people to more diverse and wiser seafood selections.
This project caught the eye of organizers of the National Aquarium’s Fishackathon event.
Chattanooga team mates Michael Daily and Ben Schnell were then asked to remotely present their project, along with Baltimore coder Logan Bair, for judging. Sustainable Suppers won the Baltimore competition, becoming a finalist for the international Fishackathon prize.
The third Chattanooga team (Sean Brewer, David Duncan and Matthew Chapman) won the Chattanooga Fishackathon event, also qualifying as one of the global finalists. “Flood Plain Projector” was developed in response to the problem statement submitted by the Tennessee Aquarium.
Fish farms will play a larger role in food production as the global population swells to seven billion people in the next 20 years. However, aquaculture operations are increasingly susceptible to inland flooding, climate change and sea level rise. The Flood Plain Projector promises to be a great tool to help developers choose the best sites for aquaculture around the world – whether raising Channel Catfish inland or Bay Scallops along the coast.
Out of 12 host cities around the world, only one city came out with a two finalists. The two Chattanooga teams are now competing for a pair of international prizes – the People’s Choice Award and the Judge’s Choice Award.
Chattanooga’s teams need votes from our community to clinch the People’s Choice Award. Everyone is encouraged to go online and vote for Flood Plain Projector and Sustainable Supper now through July 8th. The winning team in the People’s Choice category will earn a trip to the Our Ocean Conference in Valparaiso, Chile in October. Voting online not only lends support to our local tech community, it also signals Chattanooga’s commitment to sustainability before a global audience.
Vote for “Flood Plain Projector” http://challengepost.com/software/sea-level-rise
Vote for “Sustainable Supper” http://challengepost.com/software/sustainable-supper-solving-problem-15-6
Logan Bair – Baltimore
An international panel of expert judges will determine the winner of the Judge’s Choice Award. That team will earn a trip to the GSMA Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain with the opportunity to showcase their app on a world stage.
Winners for both the People’s Choice Award and the Judge’s Choice Award will be announced on Friday, July 10th.