The International Space Apps Challenge is a 2-day technology development event during which citizens from around the world will work together to solve current challenges relevant to both space exploration and social need. It will provide the bridge between valuable space data and the energized and passionate technical development community.
This is my elevator pitch for the International Space Apps Challenge. For the most part it has served me well - I can introduce the topic to almost anyone and proceed with the conversation from there scoping the discussion for the audience. The elevator pitch for the event has allowed me to do exactly what it is designed to do - launch into further conversation about the event itself. However, what I have found in the process of working on the event is that the benefit of The Challenge is not just the solutions that will be produced at the end of the development marathon; rather, the community networking, international interaction and support for space exploration and social good may well be some of the best benefits of this effort.
Thus far, the International Space Apps Challenge has well over 35 organizations working together to create events around the world. The various groups collaborating are not from a single focused community, but rather communities that are actually incredibly different; a do-it-yourself workshop community, a community focused on educating the next generation in coding, satellite operators, and academia from around the world. And, each community has brought a unique flavor to what the event is shaping up to be. At the earliest stages, we thought the event would pull together people around the world to make things with openly available data. What has been exciting about the adventure of planning has been the things that we did not predict. Today, there are challenges that I would never have thought of on my own - for example, the challenge to determine how everyone, including such people as bakers and jewelers, can contribute to the space program. This is the great thing about the International Space Apps Challenge! It has been our opportunity to really find out what it is that we just didn’t think of on our own and the results are exciting.
Additionally, the International Space Apps Challenge has already pulled together communities from around the world. People of all ages and nationalities are excited about a single event! Within the last week, I have discussed the Apps Challenge with people from all across the United States and planned with participants in Antarctica and on the International Space Station. While this has always been within the scope of the event, it has been incredible to watch the event develop on its own. At the beginning of this journey, we did not know many of the people with whom we are now working closely. Now, we communicate regularly with people from Sydney, Australia to San Francisco in the United States. The single tie for everyone is their passion for space exploration and solving social need challenges with openly available data.
The event is still in development and is expanding and maturing every day. I am already so inspired by just how networked our world can be if you just plant an idea and begin networking across borders and boundaries. I cannot yet imagine what it will be like to actually be involved in the International Space Apps Challenge; to witness, over two days, volunteers from around the world bringing forward different ideas and viewpoints and melding those into concrete solutions.
Yes, the International Space Apps Challenge will produce solutions to current challenges and provide a bridge between citizens and valuable data. But, the true benefit and beauty of the event is the connection of people across all borders and boundaries to improve the future of our world. And that, lasts much more than two days.