Go Code Colorado: “This is the epitome of how we should be thinking”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams with the Durango High School team that advanced to Go Code Colorado’s mentor weekend in Boulder. Left to right, Noah Clements, Anthony Parker, Cord Arnold, Jarvie Arnold, the secretary of state, Georgia Witchel and Claudia Luthy. (SOS photo)

By Lynn Bartels and Julia Sunny

The Colorado Secretary of State’s data-to-app contest, Go Code Colorado, attracted a variety of entrepreneurs, coders, Google bigwigs and others to its mentor weekend, which kicked off Friday night in Boulder.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who had been in Rifle earlier that morning at a regional clerks training seminar, braved rain, snow, fog and a detour on eastbound Interstate 70 to make it the event, held at Google’s headquarters in Boulder. He noted that some members of the Durango High School challenge team were missing their prom to attend mentor weekend.

State Sen. Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat, heaped praise on the Secretary of State’s office and its award-winning Go Code Colorado program.

“This is, in my opinion, the epitome of how we should be thinking about government moving forward,” Fenberg said. “We should be thinking about how to take the assets and the innovation of the new industries that are popping up around tech and see how that expertise and that talent solves some of the problems that maybe government can’t do on its own.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and state Sen. Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat, during the start of Go Code Colorado’s mentor weekend Friday night in Boulder. (SOS photo)

Fenberg joked that he “mostly showed up” because he heard that Williams, a Republican, planned to visit the liberal enclave that is Boulder.

“I’m going to be able to tell my friends at the Capitol on Monday that, yeah, Wayne’s a good guy, he even comes to Boulder,” Fenberg said, getting a big laugh out of Williams.

The secretary’s first visit to a county clerk after taking office in 2015 was to the Boulder County clerk and recorder, Democrat Hillary Hall. He’s been back to Boulder a number of times since then — to see the clerk, participate in Lincoln Day dinners and more.

Williams thanked the professionals who were going to spend the weekend mentoring the 10 teams that were chosen after challenge weekend events in five cities. Those 10 teams now will compete May 24 in Denver, where judges will declare three winners, who will each receive a $25,000 contract with the state.

Go Code Colorado’s manager, Andrew Cole with the Secretary of State’s office, declared the mentor weekend a success.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams and Scott Green, the lead for Google’s Boulder site. (SOS photo)

“We’ve got great ideas on how to turn public data into business insights and we’re really excited to see the final competition,” Cole said, adding, “I think we’ve had the best community support for the teams that we’ve seen yet.”

Cole thanked the Boulder companies and organizations that hosted events during the weekend: Twitter, Google, CA Technologies and Techstars.

The three teams that won last year’s Go Code Colorado competition created platforms that help:

  • employers connect with potential employees based on personality match;
  • energy companies determine the best location sites to drill for oil and gas based on government regulations such as proximity to schools;
  • food trucks find the best location to park by informing food truck owners of parking regulations, the amount of foot traffic the area gets, events going on in the area and other beneficial tips through data mined from social platforms and government datasets.

Julia Sunny is the social media coordinator for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office.