Communities in the U.S. and around the world are entering a new era of transformational change. Residents and the surrounding environments are increasingly connected, leading to new opportunities for innovation, improved services, and enhanced quality of life for all. New technologies, services and programs have the power to enable governments, companies, universities, civil society organizations, and communities. These communities can collaboratively address some of the 21st century’s most pressing challenges—including urban planning, education quality, social services, and public safety. Yet, in our increasingly connected world, technology also can have negative effects as digital and social media further divide communities by creating “echo chambers” and “social bubbles.” Thus, there is an urgent need for the development of tools and platforms to promote collective problem-solving and strengthen the social and economic fabric of societies.

The Challenge

The challenge for this track is to describe a novel solution to engage and enhance the wellbeing of communities, campuses, and cities. These innovations should stimulate new thinking to address key physical, social, or economic challenges facing geographic locales ranging from university settings to global metropolises. Solutions may focus on a wide range of areas, including but not limited to: improving the living conditions of urban environments, promoting civic engagement, sharing knowledge and information, making transportation options more accessible, and empowering individuals to improve their own well-being.

Examples of proposals include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • A cloud-based speech recognition and speaker identification technology that empowers hard-of-hearing individuals to access in-person conversations.
  • A mobile application that aims to promote the physical and mental health of students.
  • A web platform that helps first responders receive real-time crowdsourced information during emergencies.
  • An online resource that aims to improve the financial literacy of students and provides education on student loans, credit, and money management.
  • A shared home ownership model that makes housing accessible and affordable to individuals previously unable to purchase homes in a given city.


The “Cities & Communities” track is open to all matriculated students across the 10-campus University of California system, as well all matriculated students from Makerere University and Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Multidisciplinary teams are strongly encouraged.   For additional information about general contest rules, timing and how to apply, please refer to the Contest Application Requirements.

Past Winners

Responsive City Lights

Responsive City Lights

HomeSlice (UC Berkeley)

HomeSlice (UC Berkeley)

Ava (UC Berkeley)

Ava (formerly Transcense (UC Berkeley)

More Winners


The CITRIS and the Banatao Institute Tech for Social Good Program provides funding support to undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students developing hardware, software, events or programs that support healthy, sustainable, connected, and equitable livelihoods in the United States and abroad.

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The ASUC is the largest autonomous student government in the nation, committed to effective student participation in all areas of student concern.