Team Develops "Circle of Support" Mobile App for Vets, Wins AT&T Civic App Challenge-New Jersey

Finalists' apps help veterans, strengthen communities, help New Jerseyans in times of crisis

More than $20,000 in prizes awarded

Dec 04, 2015, 14:17 ET from AT&T

GLASSBORO, N.J., Dec. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- A Northern New Jersey team developed a mobile app that provides a complete ecosystem of support for veterans and their families, earning them top honors in the AT&T Civic App Challenge-New Jersey.

The winning app was announced during a celebration of New Jersey's innovation economy at Rowan University, where officials from AT&T joined the president of Rowan University, leaders from the state's tech community, state government, academia and business to announce the finalists and other regional winners of more than $20,000 in prizes for the AT&T Civic App Challenge-New Jersey.

The event was the culmination of a two-month virtual hackathon that AT&T launched in September with the New Jersey Tech Council, and several other organizations across the Garden State to inspire New Jersey's coders, students, artists, thinkers, makers and entrepreneurs to develop mobile applications that meet community needs.   As part of this challenge, special consideration was given to apps that help military veterans and their families.

Led by Saurabh Kumar, the winning team submitted the Military Veterans Circle of Support (MVCOS) mobile app, a complete ecosystem of support for military veterans, families, and the organizations and governments that serve them.  The platform consists of a native mobile app and services that the community needs.   As the regional and overall winner, Kumar's team won $13,000.

"We choose to develop this app to support our military veterans and their families. The prize will help us enhance the app to add more services that the community needs using the best of mobile technologies. We thank AT&T for the great initiative; our military veterans deserve the best. It was fun to work on the challenge," Kumar said.

The Central New Jersey winner is a team led by Manish Patel, whose mobile app, Colors Kit, is a comprehensive package of mobile apps designed to manage the complete range of cognitive development phases in the lives of children and adults with autism.  The team will receive $3,000.

"We are proud to receive this award and look forward to building on our vision for solving the global challenges faced by those in the autism community.  This recognition by AT&T and the New Jersey Tech Council is a step forward in bringing awareness and opportunities to improve the lives with technology," Patel said on behalf of the team. 

Led by Joseph Proleika, a team from Rowan University is the Southern New Jersey winner. Their mobile app, Veteran Route Assistance, is a location-marking app geared towards military veterans with memory loss or PTSD. The team will receive $3,000.

"We designed our app with veterans in mind, to help those living with brain injuries, specifically memory loss. Our dream is to expand the app's capabilities and migrate it to iOS and other platforms, and the prize money will help us do just that. This challenge has helped us learn a lot about veterans' daily struggles after returning home, and we hope to give back to them in many different ways in the future," said Joseph Proleika on behalf of the Veteran Route Assistance team.   

After reviewing the results of the judging, a special award was created for Currant NEIGHBORHOOD,  a mobile application that connects the dots in times of crisis, according to Sandy Spell who led the team.  Inspired by the events after Superstorm Sandy, the app enables citizens to share critical information such as where to find gas, groceries, or shelter; residents can communicate issues directly to local governments when electricity may not be available; and first responders can receive real-time field data from those impacted the most.

"We're thrilled that the Currant Neighborhood app is a winning entry for the AT&T Civic App Challenge-New Jersey.  The Neighborhood app was inspired by the events of Hurricane Sandy and is designed for people to help each other after natural disasters.  This award will help us to make the app available for free on the app store for everyone to use in coping with the devastating effects of disasters," Spell said.

New Jersey Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro participated in the closing ceremony and was impressed by the winning apps.

"The AT&T Civic App Challenge-New Jersey brought together a diverse group of partners to show how mobile technology can be leveraged to strengthen New Jersey's communities," said Assemblyman Taliaferro. "I commend and congratulate the finalists for developing apps that facilitate needs and provide networks of support for our veterans."

Rowan University President Dr. Ali Houshmand opened the awards ceremony and welcomed the tech, business, government and community leaders from across the state.

"We applaud AT&T for its innovative approach to fostering technology that is meaningful for New Jersey residents, especially veterans and their families.  The Civic App Challenge reflects elements at the heart of Rowan: innovation, entrepreneurship, research and commitment to community," Houshmand said. 

"This challenge showcased what can happen when talented, committed New Jerseyans apply their talents and expertise to help make their communities stronger.  We applaud the winners and finalists for their innovative ideas.  And, we're grateful to our collaborators from across the state who share our commitment to helping New Jersey lead in the digital, global economy," said J. Michael Schweder, president, AT&T Mid Atlantic.

Jim Barrood, president and CEO of the NJ Tech Council added:

"We congratulate everyone who participated in and has won the challenge. Their impact on developing new tech ideas helps bring New Jersey to the forefront as a leader and supporter of coding and technology development," said Barrood.

The other finalists are:

Northern New Jersey

TeleNurse Network connects patients to nursing services and wellness providers in an easy-to-use app.  Our program is focused on improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs by teaching people about healthy habits, behaviors, and utilization of available health care services outside the hospital setting.   Submitted by: Marisela Cigliuti

The Public Thinking Cap is a Crowd Sourcing Platform for Government and Non-Profit Agencies that need your help solving problems. You join a team and get to help create solutions!           Submitted by: Mark Annett

Central New Jersey

VetQuest is a role-playing game(RPG) with concepts of gaining "experience", both through combat and completing tasks("quests"), that will allow the player's character and computer-controlled allies to grow stronger. The narrative has the player taking the role of a veteran returning from overseas, suddenly forced into the reserves as a veterans affairs liaison.  Submitted by: Perry Goldman (The College of New Jersey)        

Southern New Jersey

Deep Breath was designed to teach users to practice breathing exercises and learning techniques to promote physical and mental relaxation. Breathing techniques are known as the key for meditation principles.  Submitted by: Daniel Paiva Fernandes (Stockton University)

Calendar App was designed as a calendar application to simplify the user's interaction with the app. Submitted by: Johnathan Saunders  (Rowan University)

PTSD Aid helps veterans diagnose and manage their PTSD. Every time they start the app, it asks them how they are feeling and gives them recommendations.  The app includes information about PTSD, such as symptoms and treatment. Submitted by: Tyler Carberry (Rowan University)

AT&T, in collaboration with the New Jersey Technology Council, some of the state's research universities, and other economic development, educational and veterans organizations in New Jersey, kicked off the challenge in September at JuiceTank Innovation Lab, a startup accelerator and incubator in Somerset, NJ. 

In addition to Rowan University, the higher-education collaborators included: Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey; New Jersey Association of State Colleges and Universities; New Jersey Council of County Colleges; New Jersey Institute of TechnologyRutgers University; and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Other collaborators included: Helmets to Hardhats; Heroes to Heroes; Innovation New Jersey; Operation Chill Out New Jersey; Somerset County Business Partnership; Southern New Jersey Development Council; AT&T Veterans, an employee resource group; and Vets4Warriors.

A panel of judges reviewed and scored the apps during a judging event at AT&T's Global Network Operations Center in Bedminster last month.

The judges were: State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean; State Senator Jennifer Beck ; Assemblyman Dan Benson; Dr. Andrea Lobo, Rowan University; Wendy Lang, Thomas Edison State College; Judith Sheft, NJ Institute of Technology; Dr. Paul Rohmeyer, Stevens Institute; Lloyd Deans, Vets4Warriors/Rutgers; Leo Bussiere, AT&T; and MaryAlice Breuninger, Independent College Fund of New Jersey.

The three regions were identified based upon a NJ Department of Transportation map.  To make the challenge New Jersey-centric, the challenge was open only to individuals who are residents of New Jersey and/or postsecondary students currently enrolled in a New Jersey college or university listed on the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education website.  For teams, at least 50 percent of the team members had to be either current residents of New Jersey or attend one of the state's colleges or universities.  Submitted apps were judged on potential impact on New Jersey; execution; impact on military veterans and/or their families; and creativity/novelty. 

Follow the challenge on Twitter at #NJAppChallenge.  More information is available at http://attnj.njcivicapp.com/.

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