Why GigHacks is a Great Hack Event for Entrepreneurs

Kansas City has been building up an ecosystem for early stage gigabit applications for going on four years.

PlanIT Impact, Start Talking, Big Bang, Sportsphotos and SightDeck are just a few of the emergent startups and apps that make up a unique community of builders and doers using Kansas City’s rare fiber infrastructure to create the next-generation tools for the broadband economy. And they were all either created at (PlanIT, Start Talking) or made significant developmental strides at KC Digital Drive’s past gigabit hackathons.

Our next hackathon providing entrepreneurs a gigabit boost is GigHacks, May 1-3 at the Google Fiber Space.

This hackathon will take place simultaneously in KC, San Francisco (CA), Burlington (VT), Chattanooga (TN) and Charlotte (NC). Teams can link up cross country as well as tap into a variety of resources from organizers like Orange and US Ignite as well as sponsors Google Fiber, Shinra and TechWeek.

GigHacks is not just for coders. It’s also a great place to kickstart your startup.

Here’s why.

1. Kansas City supports entrepreneurs like nowhere else. 

This city is an entrepreneur’s city. We are home to the godfather of entrepreneurship, Ewing Kauffman, and his iconic Kauffman Foundation, which is the bestower of support and sustainability for such fine pursuits. We are also home to the big-bang of startup electricity in the Kansas City Startup Village, which landed as it did thanks to Google Fiber’s unique fiberhood-driven arrival.

2. We have a pipeline of resources.

What happens to your idea after the hackathon? As the growing businesses mentioned above demonstrate, our community continues to build and scaffold the funding, programming, support and education that affords a pipeline for pre-commercial concepts to seed and grow.  

KCSourcelink was an early option that remains an essential building block for entrepreneurs and small business. Kansas City’s Economic Development Council has been an avid supporter, including the new LaunchKC Grants program — a national grants competition that will award up to ten $50,000 grants to early stage entrepreneurs and their tech ventures.

We also have the two-year-old Digital Sandbox providing proof-of-concept resources to support early-stage commercialization processes. The Sandbox is a direct outcome of the community visioning that built our Playbook.

And in 2014, Mozilla brought the Gigabit Community Fund, an experimental project to the gigabit cities of Kansas City and Chattanooga, and invested in 17 early stage pilots using that leveraged gigabit technology to transform education and workforce development.

3. GigHacks will catalyze innovation in areas that matter.

Google Fiber Wall Photo - Rodney Taylor Flickr

KC Digital Drive sees the value in fostering the tech community to keep innovating and exploring new ways to impact education, healthcare, civic engagement and industry. Hackathon events like GigHacks catalyze the collisions between dreamers, doers, technologists, and designers in order to fuel  innovation.

At GigHacks, we’re interested in demonstrating innovation in education, workforce training, healthcare, and other public benefit areas. We’ll be prototyping using client-side open web technologies (HTML5, WebGL, WebRTC) and a local private cloud.

The types of applications we’re talking about include:

  • applications that require high bandwidth (100Mbps to 1Gbps)
  • applications using huge data sets
  • applications that take advantage of layer 2 programmability/software defined networking
  • demonstrations of the above running point-to-point with local anchor institutions (over community fiber or wireless)

Bring your own idea or concept, or take peek at some of the early forming concepts like a community digital archive built on a cloud-based platform to share/store content from public resources and cultural institutions; apps for video and connected device control of robots over gigabit connections; a virtual mentorship early literacy tool; 3D modeling and printing for education and advanced manufacturing; a Kansas City filmmaking and micro-documentary project (in collaboration with Chattanooga), plus the winning team from OneDayKC and more.

4. Networking, learning and a TechWeek discount.

This isn’t just a sit-and-code hackathon. It kicks off Friday night with a free reception, followed by an immersive education workshop designed for teachers, conducted by local ed tech guru Daniel Green. Saturday at noon, we’ll enjoy a cloud-gaming presentation from pioneering, NYC-based gaming company Shinra, which will be conducting a beta test to Google Fiber customers in Kansas City (big news if you’re a fan of gaming).

We’ll have hands-on experimentation with Kubi robots, Giroptic cameras, Google Cardboard and Respoke WebRTC.

Plus, if you’re eyeing going to TechWeek this September in KC, we’ll be offering an exclusive discount to all comers.

Whether you can stay and hack the whole weekend or not, if you’re a tech entrepreneur looking for early stage support and development, we want you there.

Eventbrite - GigHacks KCThank you to our event sponsors:

thanks, sponsors!

The Importance of the Gig in Chattanooga — and Everywhere

Hive Chattanooga is heading to U.S. Ignite’s 2015 Summit in Washington, D.C. on March 23. This dynamic event brings technologists, policy leaders and community organizers together to chart a Smart Future made possible by next-generation networks. Two Hive Chattanooga Projects, Adagio and Viditor, will demo at the Summit, showing attendees the smart future of education that we are already experiencing with Chattanooga’s gigabit network.

In Chattanooga, our team is constantly asked the same big, juicy question by community members: so what? Why do you really need a gig? Why do high-speed networks really matter? My hope is that our project teams’ demos help to answer this “so what?” question. We’re excited to captivate summit attendees with how next-generation networks can make teaching better, learning more fun, and classrooms more engaging through real-world, community-based gigabit innovations.

Answering the “so what?” question wasn’t easy when we first launched Hive Chattanooga a year ago. Chattanoogans had seen demos, concerts and showcases displaying the power of the Gig, but few community members had experienced the impact of our next-generation network in their everyday lives. The eight projects we’ve supported through the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund have changed this community dynamic, moving “the Gig” from abstract idea to reality. The impact on learning that next-generation networks can have is now abundantly clear to the thousands of students and hundreds of educators teachers who have interacted with the Hive Chattanooga Gigabit Fund projects. That impact includes these essential qualities:

  • Immediacy: Next-generation networks make learning immediate and immersive — just ask any student who’s built a video with Viditor or any teacher who worked with a student across town via video through Wireless Earth Watchdogs. Gig speeds mean that students don’t have to wait for a video download or for their projects to compile losing valuable classroom minutes. They don’t experience weird lurches in video calls or buffering times on media-rich websites. This advantage may seem minor, but its impacts on engagement are huge. When videos load instantly, there’s no time to become distracted with another tab or another student. When there’s no lag on video calls, distance learning feels like in-person learning.
  • Equity: High-speed networks level the technological playing field for Chattanooga’s students. Gig speeds mean that schools don’t need the latest and greatest hardware to be on the cutting edge of technology. Chattanooga’s high-speed network allows data to stream without delay or lag to the cloud, where hardware-intensive processes can take place. This means that students working on old laptops or outmoded tablets can — without a great processor or expensive software — edit videos thanks to Viditor or mix music with Adagio.

The students, teachers, and community members who have participated in Gigabit Community Fund projects through Hive Chattanooga might not be able to explain software-defined networking, how GENI works, or why low-latency connections matter. However, they do know that they don’t have to wait for the video they made to upload and that they won’t have lags or freezes when talking to a class on the other side of Chattanooga via video chat. These Chattanoogans have experienced the benefits of the gig — the so what? of this work — even if they can’t explain it with technical jargon. They have experienced how our next-generation network makes learning more immediate and bleeding-edge technology more equitable and accessible. They’ve experienced the Smart Future in Chattanooga today.

Celebrating One Year in Chattanooga

A year ago today, the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund launched in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In front of a crowd of more than 250 community members, education leaders, and technology innovators, we kicked off the next phase of the partnership between the National Science Foundation, US Ignite and Mozilla aimed at bringing gigabit innovation out of the lab and into classrooms and informal learning spaces across Chattanooga.

Brainstorming at the Kickoff Event in February 2014 (Photo Credit: Mary Barnett, Chattanooga Public Library)

Over the last 12 months, we’ve awarded $167,000 to 8 community projects that have shown the impact of our high-speed network on learning. From real-time environmental monitoring with micro-controllers to cloud-based audio remixing, the ideas supported by the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund have pushed forward the bleeding edge of next-generation technological development. By engaging learners as beta testers and educators as co-designers, these projects have also empowered diverse new groups of Chattanoogans as creators of gigabit technology while helping to reimagine the relationship between educators, technologists, and entrepreneurs in our city.

These successes in Mozilla’s first year of work in Chattanooga were made possible through collaboration with dozens of like-minded organizations, schools, and businesses across our community. These collaborations with the Public Education Foundation, the Company Lab, and so many others have fueled the rapid development of Hive Chattanooga, our city-based learning community that has – together with our partners – convened 4,800+ Chattanoogans at more than 50 events since February 6, 2014.

Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund Project DevLearn at Mini Maker Faire Chattanooga (Photo Credit: Jason Oswald)

Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund Project DevLearn at Mini Maker Faire Chattanooga (Photo Credit: Jason Oswald)

Hive Chattanooga has brought together community members to explore the intersection of technology and education, pushing forward the conversation about how to best leverage next-generation networks while recognizing the necessity of web literacy at every level. Indeed, we have seen again and again in our work here in Chattanooga the symbiotic relationship between basic digital literacy education and next-generation tech development. To use a media-rich web app in a classroom setting, after all, students need not only a high-speed connection but also a basic understanding of what a web browser is. And to be inspired to learn basic coding skills, students need to see how these skills fuel the innovations happening all around them in their own classrooms and communities. Web literacy education builds a user base for gigabit innovations, while gigabit innovations inspire web literacy learning.

This powerful symbiotic cycle is what the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund has fed and deepened in Chattanooga over the past 12 months. In the weeks and months to come as we begin year two, we’re going to work on better telling the story of this cycle – what’s happened and why does it matter for Chattanooga? As part of sharing this story, we’re also going to be looking at how we can take the projects we’ve supported to new audiences in new organizations and new cities while bringing lessons from other Hive communities back to Chattanooga. So stay tuned – there are exciting things ahead for the Mozilla Gigabit Fund and Hive Chattanooga.

Get Connected with the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund and Hive Chattanooga:

Cyberlearning 2015: Connect, Collaborate, and Create the Future

What can two days in Washington D.C. discussing the aspirations and academia behind Cyberlearning reveal? A boat load.

The Cyberlearning 2015 event is put on by CIRCL (led by SRI International in collaboration with EDC and NORC) to support and advance the works with projects in the NSF Cyberlearning Program and cyberlearning-themed projects across NSF to support, synergize, and amplify their efforts.

As a huge fan of UCLA’s Louis Gomez, it was empowering (and fun) to hear him talk candidly about innovation, the importance of equity, and the “zone of wishful thinking” as space between good ideas and improving lives. 

Justine Cassell from the Human-Computer Institute at Carnegie Mellon (@cmuhcii) was evocative in her keynote discussing her work with tutor simulation and rapport building with young students, noting that culture is not a set of buckets into which you can drop people; people have many cultures.

We got to spend several hours working with groups on specific impact areas that hold promise for researchers, educators, non-profits and industry to affect the projects NSF funds with this initiative.  We were particularly engaged in the sessions on collaboration with teachers, revealing methods for attraction, adoption and co-design for research and edu projects, and the broader scope of Cyberlearning, with it’s potential to offer a “Grand Challenge” to create test beds to rapidly test, deploy, iterate and scale findings and projects.

We participated in the Gallery Walk featuring several interesting works, where we demonstrated Adagio (@AdadioIS) -a remote audio mixing tool – to show visitors how the power a gigabit network impacts learners. 

Cristobal Cobo ( talked about redefining the boundaries of learning, Jim Kurose, AD for the Directorate for CISE from applauded the researchers in the room and implored them to keep doing the noble work that has inspired his long career in academia and with NSF, and throughout the two-day event, we heard dozens of PechaKucha style project talks.

And to cap things off,  visitors and live streamers got a mind-blowing and inspiring peek inside Theo Watson’s (@theowatson) interactive, embodied work (@designio), including a new, large-scale installation that will open at New York Hall of Science in June.

Hearing and participating in this event, especially as the news spreads about the four new Google Fiber cities, we see the opportunities for wider technology adoption and the imperative to seed learning innovations, and we take great pride in our opportunity to partner with these folks whose theories and research shape the genres of Cyberlearning, and offer us great parallel work streams.



Catalytic Education Event @ Gigabit City Summit

The Gigabit City Summit was an experience, both social and technical, that laid out Kansas City’s bi-state Playbook for all to see, poke at, learn from and, when it’s all said and done – take back to their blooming broadband communities.  It didn’t hurt that on Wednesday, there was a hearty boost from the White House when President Obama supported municipal broadband with spunk, from Cedar Falls, IA, not leaving out a mention to the trailblazers of Kansas City, Chattanooga and a solid shout out to our friends at Next Century Cities.

No doubt you’re curious about what happens (or DID happen) at the Gigabit City Summit. So, here’s the Storify from US Ignite (@US_Ignite) to give you an idea.

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 6.34.56 PMYou can’t bring 34 cities together to talk about how to build a connected city without addressing the issue of Education.  It is the economic development agenda.  How can we develop talent, and a workforce, without good schools?  How can we ensure equity and access to all citizens?  We wanted to feature education leaders’ voices amongst city delegates to ensure education’s voice was heard in the broader context of smart and connected cities.

We succeeded.  And it was catalytic.  People are talking, and we aim to keep them talking. And doing things.  With us.  Mozilla sponsored the Edu Track that opened on Tuesday afternoon with a rush of energy from Tom Vander Ark (@tvanderark), CEO at Getting Smart.  He presented an engaging and interactive session on next generation learning for smart cities based his latest book – the headline and inspiration for the Edu content – Smart Cities That Work For Everyone – 7 Keys to Education and Employment.  It was standing room-only, and in case you missed the event, or if you just want to recollect and review what to do now, Tom’s presentation is shared here, and you can check out his blog on the Summit, too.

Krishna Vedati (@kvedati) was on deck to showcase STEM learning from the perspective of his edutainment company, Tynker (@gotynker), and he delivered a high-energy look inside Tynker’s games and the education principles they support.

A local panel of experts, led by Dr. Ray Daniels, former Superintendent of Kansas City, Kansas Public schools (see Vander Ark’s blog on Daniels’ dramatic improvement efforts), talked about the road to connectivity, digital inclusion and lessons learned with Lee’s Summit EdTech leader Kyle Pace (@KylePace), Joe Fives, CTO of KCK Public Schools, and Susan Wally, President of  PrepKC (@PrepKC).

A national panel stocked with three EdTech super stars, including Richard Culatta (@rec54), Director of Office of Education Technology (@usedgov), Erin Mote (@erinmote), founder of Brooklyn Lab (@BklynLabSchool) and Lev Gonick (@levgonick), CEO OneCommunity created a lightening rod for next gen learning with a spotlight on Equity, Human Capital and Collaboration.

The event capped with a Fireside Chat with Richard Culatta which provided local educators and conference goers a chance to ask questions in an informal setting.  Culatta was honest and inspiring as he shared his work and vision for Future Ready Schools and ConnectED

Education in gigabit cities is here.  Let’s talk.


Education is the Eco Devo Agenda

There’s an event in Kansas City in January that is shaping up to be the must-attend conference of gigabit cities.  But, also for educators. 

That’s right.  And we couldn’t be more excited…

This main stage event is the Gigabit City Summit – your chance to learn how to make your own city smarter, faster and better.  At this 3-day event, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with hundreds of gigabit city thinkers and leaders from around the country as we explore how ultra-high-speed Internet is reshaping cities. The Gigabit City Summit is the only event where you can learn how your city and your metro can prepare for the opportunity to become a Gigabit City.

Lead with learning.

Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund has wrangled together an amazing Edu Track within the Gigabit City Summit, where teachers, principals, superintendents and education stakeholders  will hear, explore and openly discuss education’s role in building smart, connected cities, with an emphasis on economic development.   This special experience will take place Tuesday, January 13, 2015, from 12:45 – 3:45pm in the Bloch Executive Hall, room 413.


  • If you are a Kansas City-area educator, you may purchase a specially priced EDU Pass for the education track only.
  • If you are already attending the Gigabit City Summit and wish to also attend GCS EDU, or if you would like to add a teacher or education professional to your metro delegation, Email Us for a group rate discount before purchasing tickets.


12:45-1:45pm – Smart Cities That Work for Everyone: 7 Keys to Education & Employment

As the majority of the world’s population becomes urban, cities must become centers of learning for young and old. Every person, organization and region needs to get smart – to skill up, learn more and build new capacities faster and cheaper than ever.

Learn from Getting Smart CEO Tom Vander Ark how education is the economic development agenda

1:45-2:30pm – Tynker’s Approach to STEM

In a world where technology touches every aspect of our lives, it is crucial that our children become active creators of technology, not just passive users. What separates those who simply have an idea from those who make their idea a reality is the ability to program.

Learn from CEO Krishna Vedati how Tynker is working to provide every child with solid foundations in STEM through visual programming apps and games.

2:45-3:45pm: KC’s Learning Revolution

From Gigabit-to-the-schools to next-gen learning, join an open discussion on the pathway from connectivity to innovation, featuring a distinguished panel of local and national experts in Ed Tech.

Moderated by Ray Daniels, Former Superintendent of Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools; Member of Board of Trustees, Kansas City Kansas Community College; Board Member, KC Digital Drive, Kansas Learning Network and PREP KC, and former member of the Mayors’ Google Bi-State Innovation Team.

Panelists include:

  • Susan Wally, Executive Director, Prep KC
  • Joe Fives, Director of Technology, Kansas City, KS Public Schools
  • Kyle Pace, K-12 Instructional Technology Specialist and Google Certified Teacher
  • Lev Gonick, CEO, One Community

The Gig as New Super Highway: More, Better, Faster, Easier

Guest post from Erin Mote, Mozilla Gigabit Fund, Adviser on Next-Gen Learning.  

In 1956 President Dwight D Eisenhower worked with Congress to create the Federal Highway System, a national network that would transform commerce throughout the United States. Now, goods could get from coast to coast or from city to city with a continuous system of roads – spurring new industries, like trucking, and transforming the way that Americans receive goods and services.

The nationalization of the highway system took a series of disconnected roads and turned it into a cohesive system for the delivery of goods and services, with roads signs and maps on how to navigate this new technology. It transformed the economy, and how entrepreneurs and companies interact with the American consumer. Today, a similar type of transformation is happening in Kansas City. The Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund is activating the innovation economy with real signs of this new technology – the Google fiber gig network – with the navigation needed to help transform business, connected communities and learning once again.

Mozilla’s Gigabit Community Fund provides grants and resources for innovators exploring the use of next-generation gigabit technologies in the gigabit cities of Kansas City and Chattanooga. It funds promising pilot projects developed by educators, students, technologists and entrepreneurs that harness the power of Google Fiber and build capacity for next generation technologies in Kansas City.

Connected cities often lack the knowledge and understanding of just how to enable this new infrastructure to truly transform the way we live, play, educate, explore and do business. It harkens back to the United States’ disconnected roads prior to 1956 – when commerce, and goods and services, moved at a much slower pace, and we simply couldn’t fathom how a new highway system would change everything.   It’s not about the novelty of the build – it’s about what the new system is capable of doing. More, better, faster, easier.

While the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund invests in projects that build and develop educational next-gen applications, it also provides the very real and necessary way-finding signs that are critical for the city to successfully unlock the power and promise of gigabit technology.

Just take a peek at the Mozilla Gigabit project at Northland CAPS.

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Team Pitches @ Sprint Accelerator (Nov 7, 2014)

As a high school student, imagine building a tool that attempts to save over 680,000 people a year in the United States, or what equates to every 1 in 4 deaths each year. This tool isn’t a seat belt or a magic pill – it’s a mobile application that tracks patient health for the hundreds of thousands of people every year who die of congestive heart failure (CHF). Tackling this $108.9 billion annual problem, a group of students from Northland CAPS, funded in part by the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund, set out to build, test, and deploy a mobile application that is quite literally lifesaving. The project’s students have spent the fall semester developing a suite of tools in concert with businesses and medical facilities that provide monitoring of critical vital signs and symptoms of patients being released from the hospital with congestive heart failure. By helping to prevent re-admissions to the hospital after CHF diagnoses, the Northland CAPS teams are attempting to prevent the 1 in every 3 people who are re-admitted within 30 days of leaving a health care facility, by providing real-time biometric feedback to physicians and the patients so that they have the data to understand how to combat heart disease.

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Team Pitches @ Sprint Accelerator (Nov 7, 2014)

The Northland CAPS project is just one example of how Mozilla is activating a network of organizations, entrepreneurs, and educators inspired and driven by the work and projects supported by the Gigabit Community Fund. The Fund’s activities are closely tied with building the infrastructure to support continued engagement with the gigabit network through Mozilla’s Hive Learning Network model. Hive Learning Networks, and Hive KC, are built on the principles of connected learning – activating real-life understanding of digital and web literacy to create groundbreaking tools to activate the global web. In Kansas City this global web is a little faster and is being propelled by a new generation of entrepreneurs – whether students or businesses – who are unlocking the power to not just consume the web, but to make the web and their future. And it doesn’t hurt to save a couple hundred thousand lives while harnessing the new gigabit super highway.

The Currency of Connectivity: Networking for Innovation in Chattanooga

In late November, Erin Mote, co-founder of Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School and Mozilla’s Special Adviser on Next-Gen Learning, visited Chattanooga to explore our growing Hive Learning Community and to participate in a Next Century Cities hearing on expanding gig access.  Below, Erin reflects on her visit to the Gig City and on the role Mozilla is playing in Chattanooga’s innovation ecosystem.

If you build it, innovation will come.  For some cities this has been the dominant philosophy for the building the next blocks of the innovation economy – not so for the city of Chattanooga, TN which has one of most successful high speed municipal gigabit infrastructures in place.  In Chattanooga, and for the Mozilla Gigabit Fund, a partnership with US Ignite and the National Science Foundation, thriving innovation is built both by unlocking the network’s capacity and building the human capital to take advantage of a next generation network.

This investment in extending the reach of game-changing gigabit infrastructure is at the heart of the Fund’s investment in building the currency of connectivity – not just linking folks to a network, but seeding innovation amongst communities of practice.  On a recent trip to Chattanooga, I visited with mayors, community leaders, students, teachers, and entrepreneurs who were harnessing the power of the gig to drive next gen technology.  What struck me on my visit was not the uber fast connection of the airport wi-fi – though I have to say it has LaGuardia beat any day – but a city and an ecosystem focused on building a community that prizes digital inclusion alongside extended access.

The Hive in Chattanooga is at the heart of building these ecosystems that prize trust, connection, and extending the reach of the “gig”.  If 1:1 deployments were the answer to integrating tech into education, then the promise of technology in education for personalizing learning would have been reached long ago.  The reality is that the biggest driver of outcomes remains great teachers.  We see great learning outcomes tied to digitally empowered teachers and students, not just to devices.  This is the work that the Hive is taking on in Chattanooga, working with the Public Education Foundation to cultivate an amazing group of 38 educators who are committed to extending the reach of tech in their classrooms.

When I sat down with a group of these “teacherprenuers” last week, the conversation was dominated by great ideas and imagination about how to harness the “gig” for these learning outcomes.  They were eager to share what was working and what their frustrations were, living in one of the most connected cities but still hoping to realize the promise of technology in their schools for all of their students.  From discussion on how technology could harness the personalization of learning for students with special needs, to unlocking a new pathway for project based learning, these teachers formed (with the help of the Hive) one of the most active and engaged “gig” ecosystems thinking about extending the reach of the gig.  Their classrooms were defined by the excitement of using drones or new courseware or being able to deploy tech so their students could leap forward with 21st century skills.

In Chattanooga, the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund and the Hive have formed not just an ecosystem of partners, but cultivated the extension of the “gig” to classroom outcomes for these teachers.  They have built a community that thrives on the currency of connectivity not because it has a gig, but because it has figured out how to harness the “gig” to not just build the network but also to activate it.

Gigabit Fund @ MozFest | London Calling

The Gigabit Community Fund project arrived in London for MozFest with a delegation of gig folks from our growing communities in Chattanooga and Kansas City, and even a US Ignite partner from Cleveland made the trip over.

“What happens when you bring together 1700 hackers, teachers, journalists, artists and other creative technologists for a weekend in a vast, ideas-filled space? The answer – in the best possible way – is chaos.

Chaos gets a bad rep. Mozilla Festival, now in its fifth year and affectionately known as MozFest, is unashamedly thrown together: sessions are spontaneous and guided by their participants; banners, posters and enormous flying blimps litter the corridors and teaching spaces; wild-eyed children run past armed with robots and LED boards; a life-sized Firefox mascot wanders around hugging excited festivalgoers.

All in all: MozFest is unlike any other event I’ve attended, except possibly a tech-themed Glastonbury: there’s far too much going on that you can’t possibly see all the stuff you’re interested in, but there’s so much going on around the fringes and in the spaces between “stages” that you’ll almost always end up discovering something brilliant. The coffee was absolutely fantastic, the enthusiasm and passion of the people running the show was infectious, and to boot: they gave out 1000 free Firefox OS smartphones (aimed at emerging markets) to nearly every attendee – with the request that we report bugs, put them through their paces and even create apps for them.”

, TheGuardian.com, Friday, October 31, 2014

From the start of MozFest, guests took to the sessions for inspiration to take back home.  From policy and advocacy to Hive Learning Networks, from the art and culture of the web to open science and open news showcases – MozFest is a consumable source of knowledge that feeds the globe a Thanksgiving size meal of information once a year.

We had some gigabit-inspired projects flanking the weekend-long event, starting with the Kansas City Public Library’s Digital Media Lab.  They showed off their high-tech virtual reality + Minecraft @MozillaGigabit project (Round 2 KC) at the MozFest Science Fair on Oct 24th at Ravensbourne College in London’s Greenwich area.

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Marv Schwartz in Occulis Rift w/ Andrea Ellis assisting at MozFest 2014 Science Fair


Adagio, a Round 1 Chattanooga @MozillaGigabit project is a collaborative, cloud-based music education app. and they joined MozFest to shine at the big Maker Party on Saturday, Oct 25th.


Adagio @ MozFest 2014 Maker Party

We convened an ad-hoc Gigabit session on Sunday, Oct 26th for the group to discuss broad community progress, national partners and resources, and the upcoming Gigabit City Summit in Kansas City January 13 -15, 2015.  We had the opportunity to reflect on ideas generated from MozFest, how to take new concepts back to our communities, how to track and monitor these and other, ongoing projects and pilots, and we spent a great deal of time organizing ways to further our capacity for working together to be more effective across our shared interests.

We discovered some new partners, found some new ways to further expand our work in our home communities, and we even found a couple of nuggets of gigabit inspiration worth pursuing.  Stay tuned…we’ll be sharing more of those outcomes as they rise up and take shape.

One thing is for sure – you’ll find a larger contingent of gigabit evangelists, stakeholders, leaders and practitioners at MozFest 2015.


Hive in Chattanooga’s Gigabit Ecosystem

In July, Chattanoogans turned out in force for GIGTANK Demo Day, the concluding celebration of The Company Lab’s gig-focused summer accelerator program.  With 900+ in attendance, GIGTANK Demo Day is Chattanooga’s premier technology event, serving in equal parts as an annual benchmark for how far we’ve come as a technology hub and as a launching pad for future successes.

GIGTANK celebrates Chattanooga as a living laboratory for gigabit development. On the heels of this celebration, it seems a fitting moment to share some ways Mozilla has been supporting this unique experimentation ecosystem in Chattanooga since launching the Gigabit Community Fund and the Hive Chattanooga Learning Community last February.  Consider this, if you will, a sort of “State of the Hive” report as we approach the six-month mark in the Gig City.  The TL;DR?  The state of our Hive is strong, and we’re growing every day as projects launch, events gain traction, and connected learning principles take root in our community.

The Gigabit Community Fund

As part of our larger commitment to web literacy, Mozilla launched the Gigabit Community Fund in Chattanooga to explore how next-generation networks like EPB’s can create new opportunities to build and explore on the web in classrooms, libraries, museums and other learning spaces.

Our approach to taking gig discoveries out of the lab and into the field is multi-pronged.  First, we’re supporting the development and piloting of gig apps and associated curricula through the Gigabit Community Fund.  Second, we’re catalyzing the adoption, spread, and scale of these innovations through the Hive Chattanooga Learning Community.  And, finally, we’re leveraging the international reach of Mozilla to broadcast those successes across other Hive cities and beyond.

Launched in early 2014 with support from the National Science Foundation and as part of the broader US Ignite initiative, the Gigabit Community Fund has distributed $150,000 to eight gig pilot projects in Chattanooga. In addition to this funding, Mozilla is also able to connect project participants with a network of peers, experts and potential investors, as well as to provide both national and international attention in other hub cities – New York, Chicago and San Francisco, among others – and at events like London’s yearly MozFest.

The pilot projects that have received funding to date are:

  • Adagio | Chattanooga Music Resource Center: An audio-mixing application, piloted at the Chattanooga Public Library and Barger Academy of Art, leveraging cloud storage and remote collaboration to lower barriers to music production and education.
  • Building an App from the Ground Up | The Creative Discovery Museum and Spartan Systems, Inc.: An application-creation toolbox and digital record co-designed by teens and developers that will serve as a design blueprint for other youth-serving organizations in Chattanooga and beyond.
  • devLearn | Duncan Ingram, Inc: A mobile coding application for elementary school students which recognizes that, for many across the digital divide, cell phones are a primary means of internet access, and will build critical capacity for Chattanooga’s gigabit future.
  • GigBridge | Global Excel Tennessee:  A high school student-led project bolstering English language and digital literacy skills (while improving access to health education) in underserved communities, teaching ESL students to construct interactive mobile applications focused on obesity education and prevention.
  • The GigLab | Chattanooga Public Library: A venue for access to gigabit connected resources for the purposes of workforce development, application testing and education, the GigLab is the first public-access space of its kind.
  • Hyperlocal Hyperaudio | Hyperaudio:  A Chattanooga-centric edition of the Hyperaudio platform, creating a multimedia educational tool grounded in community history, as well as improving access to local archival history.
  • Viditor | GeonCode: A new, online video editor being piloted in local schools, UTC-student developed Viditor is a multi-platform tool allowing students across the city to work on and edit film collaboratively.
  • Wireless Earth Watchdogs | Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences: By building a student-driven, real-time water quality monitoring system using micro-controllers, the Wireless Earth Watchdogs, in collaboration with Hixson High School and the Chattanooga Public Library, are pioneering a multidisciplinary approach to digital and engineering education.

Hive Chattanooga Learning Community

Hive is a city-based network of classroom teachers, informal educators, technologists and everyday citizens working together to promote web literacy and bridge the digital divide.  Hive Learning Networks currently exist in Toronto, New York, Chicago, and Pittsburgh. New Hive Learning Communities are growing in the Bay Area, in Berlin, in Kansas City, and right here in Chattanooga.  Hive’s networked approach creates a platform through which to scale and spread innovations springing from the Gigabit Community Fund and from other digital literacy programs here in Chattanooga.  Online tools like the Hive cross-city member directory allow us to share great stories about innovations happening in Chattanooga across the world, as well as connect local members with their counterparts in other cities. On the ground we’re working to grow Hive Chattanooga through the following initiatives:

  • Gig Demo Calls: On the first Friday of each month, Hive CHA joins forces with Hive Kansas City to host a Google Hangouts on Air call about the newest innovations in next-generation networking, software-defined networking and gig-fueled educational endeavors.  Now in its third month, the Gig Demo Call has featured six unique demos from gig experts, which have reached an audience of over 250 viewers across the globe.
  • Community Coffees: On the third Thursday of the month, Hive CHA invites Chattanooga’s technologists and educators together for a caffeine-fueled discussed about integrating web literacy skills, bridging the digital divide, and connecting to Mozilla’s resources to help teach the web.  Since February, more than 80 Chattanoogans have attended these coffees.
  • Professional Development Workshops and Meetups: In collaboration with the Public Education Foundation, the Hamilton County Department of Education’s iZone, and other youth-serving organizations in our community, Hive CHA has hosted a variety of workshops and meetups focused on sharing Gigabit Fund innovations and Mozilla web literacy resources with educators and innovators.  More than 300 classroom teachers and informal educators have attended these events.
  • Maker Party: Maker Party is Mozilla’s annual campaign to spread web literacy through hands-on learning events in cities across the globe.  With more than 2000 events planned for the 2014 campaign, Maker Party is another valuable platform for prototyping and sharing out innovations happening in Chattanooga and for localizing trends in education spread from other Hive communities. In July, the Hive Chattanooga team attended a Maker Party at the Bronx Library Center in New York to share the work of the Chattanooga Public Library and Gigabit Fund project Hyperaudio with the 600+ students in attendance.  Now, we’re bringing this experience back home to Chattanooga through local Maker Party events.


Get Involved with Hive CHA: