The 2016 California Water Data Challenge was a first of its kind collaboration. The event, which concluded with the judging of entries on December 9, 2016, challenged participants to leverage open source technology and available water information to support decisions around water reliability and resource sustainability in California. Inspired by President Barack Obama’s commitment to improving open data and government, the Challenge demonstrated the potential for collaboration, transparency, and innovation to address our water management issues.

See the Fact Sheet for more information on the 2016 California Water Data Challenge.

Caltrans Innovation Contest

About the Contest

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will award $25,000 to the Californian with the best unique idea about how to improve the state’s transportation system. The concept that best addresses the contest criteria within Caltrans’ area of responsibility and has the highest likelihood of being successfully implemented, will be selected as the winning entry and announced by December 31, 2015.


The contest is open to any individual who is a California resident, except for current and retired State of California employees and their immediate family members. Any contestant under 18 years of age must have his/her parent or guardian’s permission to enter the contest. Each entry is limited to an individual submitting a single idea.

Deadline & details

The Caltrans Innovation Contest has concluded, please click to see a list of the finalists.

Caltrans – who we are and what we do

Caltrans manages more than 50,000 road and highway lane miles, funds three intercity rail lines, maintains more than 12,500 state bridges, and inspects more than 400 public-use and special-use airports and heliports. Under the Active Transportation Program (ATP), Caltrans partners with local communities to develop and maintain safe, healthy, and convenient daily travel options. We are broadening our scope of projects to benefit active transportation users including pedestrians, bicyclists, and mass transit riders. The mission of Caltrans is to provide a safe, sustainable, integrated, and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.

Caltrans Goals

  • Safety and Health: Provide a safe transportation system for workers and users, and promote health through active transportation and reduced pollution in communities.
  • Stewardship and Efficiency: Money counts. Responsibly manage California’s transportation-related assets.
  • Sustainability, Livability and Economy: Make long-lasting, smart mobility decisions that improve the environment, support a vibrant economy, and build communities, not sprawl.
  • System Performance: Utilize leadership, collaboration and strategic partnerships to develop an integrated transportation system that provides reliable and accessible mobility for travelers.
  • Organizational Excellence: Be a national leader in delivering quality service through excellent employee performance, public communication, and accountability.

Evaluation Criteria

Submissions will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Innovation: Is the idea innovative and unique? Is its goal clearly stated? Is there potential to produce a breakthrough or a major change that will improve Caltrans’ operations, increase safety or efficiency, save money, or improve California? (Worth one half of the overall score.)
  • Potential Benefit(s): Does the idea solve an important issue? Could it significantly improve or potentially replace current practice(s)? Will the innovation contribute to furthering a Caltrans goal/objective? (Worth one quarter of the overall score.)
  • Implementation: Is the idea practical and effective? Is it economically feasible? If selected, could Caltrans realistically put the idea into action? (Worth one quarter of the overall score.)

Greengov challenge logo of a power symbol with a leafAs the state deals with the effects of environmental change and the drought, California government seeks to find innovative ways to reduce waste in resources and increase sustainable practices. As part of the Innovation Contest (AB 2138- Gatto), the Government Operations Agency and the Department of General Services are looking for innovative solutions that will help California improve its sustainable operations and engage with the public. We want the public to leverage the pilot Statewide Open Data Portal and use publicly available data sources to help citizens and decision makers understand the state’s progress on achieving sustainability goals and to help policymakers and implementers inside state government make informed decisions.

Drawing at least one data set available through the pilot Statewide Open Data Portal, this innovation contest will focus on creating apps, visualizations, and other tools that can help improve government sustainability practices. Contestants should be able to harness and visualize data sets to empower citizens and policy makers with data to evaluate the progress of each department toward established sustainability goals that will lead to better informed policy and implementation decisions.

Learn more about the contest.

See the event flyer.

Visually engaging sustainability tools could include, but not be limited, a dashboard that:

  • Reports departments’ progress toward established sustainability goals.
  • Incorporates as many of the data sets provided as possible, as well as other publicly available data sources.
  • Automatically updates as data sets in data portal are updated.

$25,000 in prize money will be awarded by the following breakdown:

  • $10,000 for the first place winner
  • $7,500 for the second place winner
  • $5,000 for the third place winner
  • $2,500 for the People’s Choice



  • Code for Sacramento: We will partner with Code for Sacramento and reach out to the brigades in San Francisco and Oakland to spread the word about the contest. Code for Sacramento will serve as an advisory role throughout our planning process.
  • CA Pilot Open Data Portal: We will contact registered participants once the portal goes live. We also strongly encourage that you seek additional data sources and share them here.
  • Sustainability Goals: This document summarizes some of the Governor’s sustainability goals.


Sponsors and Partners

Helping Consumers and Policymakers Marshal the State of California’s Health Data Code-a-Thon


CHHS logo


Drawing on all datasets available through the California Health and Human Services Agency CHHS Open Data Portal, this code-a-thon focused on creating apps, visualizations, and other tools to help better harness available data. The code-a-thon was co-hosted by CHHS and the California Health Care Foundation. The code-a-thon awarded prizes in two categories:

  • Consumers: Harness and visualize datasets to equip consumers with the data they need to raise awareness about and inform the health choices they and their communities make.
  • Policymakers: Harness and visualize datasets to equip city, county, and state government, as well as school districts, with health data they need to inform their policy decisions.

$20,000 in prize money was awarded at the code-a-thon: $10,000 for the 1st place winner, $5,000 for the 2nd place winner, $2,500 for the third place winner and $2,500 for the audience’s choice!

The goal not only is to draw developers and designers to this code-a-thon, but to also include providers, advocacy organizations, and/or nonprofits on teams formed during the code-a-thon, in order to help ensure that products developed respond to on-the-ground needs.

More information on the applications developed and contest details is available here.

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