Civic Innovation Jam

Mayor Byron W. Brown's Civic Innovation Jam, a day dedicated to building a sustainable Buffalo with technology as part of Mayor Byron W. Brown's Civic Innovation Eco Challenge Powered By AT&T, was a success!

This year, the Civic Innovation Eco Challenge will shine a light on how to make Buffalo a better and greener place to live, work, and play. Participants came together for this hands-on workshop to learn the details of the competition, brainstorm solutions, and learn how to best use technology to improve our local community for today and tomorrow. This was an opportunity for those passionate about recycling and sustainability issues and those with advanced technical skills to come together to brainstorm potential technological solutions to real-world problems. 

Check out this Civic Innovation Brainstorm List generated during the event!

Connect after the event by joining our Civic Innovation Eco Challenge Slack workspace!

Subscribe to Civic Innovation Eco Challenge e-mail updates by clicking here!


Civic Innovation Jam Program


9:30am - 10:00am - Breakfast/Registration

(Please arrive by 9:45am to ensure you are registered before the program begins. Program will begin promptly at 10am)


10:00am - 10:20am - Opening Remarks

  • Mayor Byron W. Brown

  • AT&T

  • Esri


10:20am - 10:40am - Keynote Address - Derrick A. Parson, Founder and CEO, GRASPIE™

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Derrick Parson a Brooklyn native, now Buffalo transplant is the Founder and CEO of GRASPIE. GRASPIE™, an official Founder Gym, Y Combinator Startup School and Google for Startups™ graduate and an early stage venture-backed startup, is a next-gen mobile-first training and engagement platform for the new connected workforce that allows employers to onboard, train and engage employees faster and cheaper leveraging dynamic content, custom integrations, and machine learning. We have set our sights out to change the way businesses onboard, train and engage their employees. Derrick has always been passionate about entrepreneurship and technology, starting his first business at the age of 16 in Brooklyn, NY and then his second while attending the University at Buffalo. He knew since he was young that he would one day run a successful software company. Outside of entrepreneurship, Derrick is also passionate about giving back and has devoted his time to community organizations. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Inc., Vice President of the National Black MBA Association, Buffalo Urban League Young Professionals and Vice Chair of the Community of Giving Legacy Initiative council, Derrick is constantly involved in the community and pushing the envelope on technology and inclusion within the city. Building his startup in Buffalo, NY, Derrick hopes to pave the wave for more Black Founders to strive to change the world one dream at time. 


10:40 - 10:50 - Overview of Mayor Byron W. Brown's Civic Innovation Eco Challenge Powered by AT&T

  • Rules, Submission Guidelines, Prizes


10:50am - 11:00am - Challenge Question Overview/Jam Session Instructions


11:00am - 12:10pm - Civic Innovation Jam Session*

  • Brainstorm Challenges

  • Brainstorm Solutions

  • Vote for your favorite solutions!


12:10pm - 12:50pm - Lunch/Networking (Food Provided)


12:50pm - 1:00pm - Report out Favorite Solutions


1:00pm - 2:00pm - ArcGIS for Developers

Session Description: Esri appreciates the opportunity to take part in Mayor Byron W. Brown's Civic Innovation Challenge Powered by AT&T, and we look forward to working with you all, in any way we can, to help you bring your creative ideas to light. In this workshop, we will introduce you to the ArcGIS platform, and how you can use components of it for managing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data using our free cloud-based tools. If your project relies in part in knowing where things are, and how they move and relate to one another, ArcGIS can support your app idea in many ways. Not only does ArcGIS provide a rich set of APIs, but it also includes 100s of samples, as well as app templates and app builders, for creating highly customized apps, even without any code. In this workshop we will follow a Data > Design > Develop pattern, to demo for you how to import data, design good maps, and embed mapping capabilities into apps you build.

Esri is providing up to fifty (50) 1000 Credit Developer Voucher Certificates that will grant access to their developer site at no cost to teams. Esri has committed to follow up with teams that engage with their technology, not only to leverage potential recruitment targets but to also follow up on code advancement and apps.

Bring your laptops and tablets to actively participate in this session. Free wifi will be available.


*Civic Innovation Jam Session Description


The Civic Innovation Jam Session will be the main activity at the Civic Innovation Jam. It will be a community brainstorm around the following challenge questions:

  • How can we use technology to encourage efficient and renewable energy use?

  • How can we use technology to increase curbside recycling?

  • How can we use technology to reduce food waste?

  • How can we use technology to promote eco-friendly transportation options?

  • How can we use technology to improve air quality?

  • How can we use technology to protect and restore our water and surrounding ecosystems?

  • How can we use technology to conserve water?

  • How can we use technology to keep usable materials out of landfills?

  • How can we use technology to increase green building development and redevelopment?

  • How can we use technology to promote access to healthy food options and encourage green farming practices?

All challenge questions will be posted around the main interior area of the Bulger Communication Center.

Brainstorm Challenges: Participants will have 20 minutes to write real-world challenges or issues they have concerning each challenge question topic onto post-it notes and stick them on the wall next to the appropriate challenge question. Feel free to come to the event with challenges and issues in mind, ex. "I don't know what is recyclable and what's not." During this part, all attendees can move freely between any and all challenge questions that interest them.

Brainstorm Solutions: For the next thirty (30) minutes, you will be part of a group that will go from challenge question to challenge question. Each group will have three (3) minutes at each station to come up with possible technical solutions, ex. “An app that tells you what you can recycle in Buffalo” to the challenges and issues brainstormed from the previous session. .

Vote for your Favorite Solutions: For the final twenty (20) minutes, groups will spend two minutes at each station and each attendee will vote for their favorite solution for each of the ten (10) challenge statement topics by placing a sticky flag on their favorite solution!

The most popular solutions will be reported out to all attendees on the main stage @ 12:50pm following lunch.

Following the event, all solutions will be posted on the buffaloinnovates.com website so Challenge participants know the kinds of unique and innovative solutions that the community is looking to them to build!

The Civic Innovation Jam was possible thanks to our partnership with SUNY Buffalo State College.