HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB)-- Chattanooga is quickly becoming known across the country for having the fastest Internet in the Western hemisphere, offering speeds of one gigabit-per-second.
This weekend web developers from across the U.S. came to the Scenic City to take full advantage of the service.
The first-ever 'hackathon,' called 'Hackanooga,' attracted both experienced and amateur web developers to kick start new ideas, using the web in the 'Gig City' to build community-centered prototype apps and programs.
"They're really trying to create apps and programs that benefit the community in some way and the greater good," says Kelly McCarthy.
Kelly McCarthy moved to Chattanooga four years ago and helps run a web design firm. She says now that Chattanooga offers 1 gigabit-per-second fiber Internet service to all of its residents and businesses, the possibilities are endless.
"This is something that you just don't have access to everywhere," she says.
That is why she teamed up with U.S. Ignite and Mozilla to bring web gurus from across the country to put the gig speed to the test, working on prototype high bandwidth and big data apps, focusing on everything from public safety to education.
"I think projects like this are coming here now and there's just a crazy a number of awesome ideas happening here. And I think as a result of that, Chattanooga's going to get a lot more exposure," says web developer Eric Gandhi.
Gandhi and his team developed a city budgeting app.
"You kind of adjust everything on the fly and see how it would affect the city," he says.
They were just one of 11 teams that presented ideas, including STEM High School freshmen Jake Westmoreland and Reggie Woods.
"I really wanted to learn how to do coding. When we figured out that we were hacking, it seemed interesting and fun," says Woods.
While mostly for fun, organizers hope the creative energy blossoms real applications and opens the door for others to follow.
"Right now it remains to be seen. Chattanooga is sort of on this brink where we could just explode and become sort of the next tech hub and it would be amazing. And what we choose to do with it is up to us," says McCarthy.
Ideas generated during Hackanooga could evolve into submissions for the Mozilla Ignite Challenge, which offers $485,000 in awards, as well as mentorship opportunities to get prototype apps off the ground.
McCarthy hopes to make Hackanooga an annual event.
Thursday, May 23 2013 1:42 PM EDT2013-05-23 17:42:02 GMT
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