Boca Behind the Scenes


Boca Raton's Reclaimed Water System Proves to be a "Hole In One"

Ep. 31

Did you know that the City of Boca Raton's Utility Services Department is a 100% reuse facility for reclaimed water? The department was recently recognized for its reclaimed water system as a sustainable resource that has been a success not only nationally but also locally since the early 90s. So what does this exactly have to do with golf?

In this episode of Boca Behind the Scenes, Utility Services Director Chris Helfrich and John Creane, General Manager of the award winning Broken Sound Country Club, chat about the In-City Reclamation Irrigation System, how it works and how some of the most prestigious golf courses in the area are benefitting from it.

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Ep. 27 - Getting SMART about Innovation in the City

Ep. 27
On this episode of Boca Behind the Scenes, host, Anne Marie Van Casteren chats with the City's Innovation Specialist, Pedro Moras, and President & CEO of Palm Beach Tech Association, Joe Russo about their upcoming hackathon and other innovative initiatives in the community. The Palm Beach Tech Hackathon is anhour event where participants form teams, vet ideas, create a project, then present their work to an expert panel of judges. The themes this year are Smart Cities and Hurricane Relief, with each project relating in some part to either topic.CONNECT WITH US📱 Facebook:🐤 Twitter:📷 Instagram:🏠 Nextdoor:🌎 Website: everyone and welcome to BocaBehind the Scenes a get to know you podcast where we talk to city staff to get details and information about new programs events and projects that are taking place right here in your city. My name is Anne Marie Van Casteren Public Relations Specialist with the City's Communications and Marketing Division and as always I am happy to be your host today.Today on the show I'm joined by Pedro Morasour Innovation Strategist thank you for being here today hi glad to be here and then our first ever non city employee Joe Russo President and CEO of Palm Beach Tech Association thank you so much for being here as well yeah thanks for inviting me. This podcast we're going to be talking aboutinnovation and technology within the City of Boca but focusing on this upcoming hackathon and I know Joe last year you came and presented to city councilabout the hackathon and presented the winning team who actually created anAI bot for the City so do you want to tell us a little bit about that?Last year we held a hackathon at Office Depot which is based here in the City of Boca Raton andfor those that don't knowthe city's history of technology is very vast from IBM being here for fifty years ago to now so we have a lot of tech talent the community so when we put on this hackathon and had over a hundred people attend it just so happened that the winning team built a product for the City of Boca Raton go figure and it worked out very well for us because we wanted to of course share the news of this hackathonwith the city and what better way than sharing a little bit about the winning team which obviously gave a way for a city staff and residents to be more connected than ever before sohackathons are always different and people are always coming up with more imaginativeways to do things but yeah what a perfect result and we're hoping thisnext one will have just as a perfectoutcome for the city. Awesome so tell usabout this hackathonI mean I have no idea what it is or how it worksyeah so every time people hear the word hacking their automatic thought process is ohno what happened buthacking is not a degenerative term it's really meant to be hack something to figure it out to work through a problem and what hackathons are doing is taking a group of very smart people all technology oriented and saying here you have twenty four hours to solve the problem right so it's hacking through that and for this year we put the themes of smart cities and hurricane relief on there so anything that relates to building a better city building a better community and more than that helping a community in peril should a disaster happen as we've seen in the Bahamas we really want to emphasize that community feel and have these teams and have these people have an opportunity to come up with ways to help their communitywe had seventeen teams last year this year we would obviously like to have more with each team working collaboratively with their skill sets in their backgrounds to come up with a way to help the City of Boca Raton and other communities around us. Andwho makes up these teams like are they all developers are you know did they come from different backgrounds are they young entrepreneurs.It's as diverse as you might expect we havevery senior very seasoned folks who are partnering in teams with students from our local universities like FAUor Lynn Universityso we dohave this really interesting mix and it's kind of fun to see how the teams flush out andsee how diverse they are thesecond place team last year was an all women's team thatcame from ourwomen's council so we have a women in tech group and they put together a team and it was amazing what they came up with by just all kind of saying well I'm good at this and I'm good at that either be web developmentsoftware graphic design project management all these little skills in jobs that when you look it up they make about four five percent of the work force in South Florida put the all to to work and they make a hundred percent difference andPedro I know your this is your first year yes here at the cityandso what are you looking forward to the most with this hackathon and you know what is your involvementwith this event yeswe're really excited in the city inthe office of innovation the office of innovationis brand new and our two areas of focus one of them is smart city how do we make Boca Raton a more technology enabled cityhow do we come up with better solutions to overall improve our community and that's everything from transportation to security tomany different things so we touch on a lot of different topics and then the other area of focus is how do we make Boca Raton a more robust entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem our council has has a big interest in this becoming a technology huband as Joe mentioned before Boca has a really rich history when it comes to technologywe have a lot of talent here and so a lot of times I think inthe past we've done a really good job ofour community kind of growingorganically and then at city hall we have some really good people so we're excited to tap into that the immense talent of our community and say hey guys we want Boca Raton to become a smart city but we know that we can't do this aloneand we'd love to engage with you guys so we're excited to see what types of solutions come out because we really have a mindset of the city of not just saying oih that's really good that that looks good we're really looking at this as an opportunity for us to say great this is a first step how do we work together and for those of us who don't knowwhat exactly is a smart city yes sothe definition of itis very broadand it depends a lot on on the different types of cities and in what you mean the that the generalkind ofI would say consensus isa city that that is delivering wanting to improve the quality of life for its citizensusing technology as a primary means or or or a solution for it to do so so it can mean a lot of thingsit can mean from smart lightingwifi5G something that's been thrown around a lothow do we use somebetter more sustainable technology when it comes to our transportation when it comes to buildinghow do we provide better services and more opportunitiesfor citizens pollution lowering pollution and those types of things where the definition variesit depends on the needs of the city a city like Boca Raton we don't have major pollution issues likesay Los Angeles or Hong Kong so that kind ofdeprioritizes it but there'sit's really vast and what it covers I'll add to that by saying I have this really neat app on my phone that is called the transit app just as simple as it sounds you can look it up it's a free app and they actually have partnered with cities like Boston or Toronto some big cities and integrated all of their public transportation to the big city where you know there's a lot of ways to get around I can go on this and I can see the live trackingwhere their buses and where their trains are and in South Florida it has Tri Rail and Palm Tran and Lyft andUber and everything but just by making the public more connected with what is around them there are so many applications of technology and making a better more connected city and that's something asa Florida native I'm reallyproud and interested in so you know we become a better community leveragingwhat we have here definitely andso overall I guess what is the goal of this hackathonyou know from Palm Beach Tech Association's standpoint and also from a city standpoint like what are you looking to see come out of this event well I think from an industry standpoint we want to raise the awareness that there is a really awesome and amazing tech industry in South Florida and it's constantly growing and constantly evolving you may not have IBM here like we did years ago but we have Modernizing Medicine Office Depot has almost a thousand technology enabled employees in their office here there are so many different companies that we know of today raising the awareness of that and then inter connecting those companies so they can be a part of a movement that grows our tech industry here and give South Florida a really solid economic foundation for the future and heck I went to school here all my life I want more people I went to school with to say I'm coming back to South Florida from New York or Chicago or whatever and I'm going to make my home here so that's our selfish goal from an organization standpoint making sure that we our industry can grow butyou know andI'm sure this will relate to Pedro's I love to see what our people can come up with see what these teams can really do yeah from our sideyou knowwe're sponsors of this event and in the future we're going to be doing work and looking to do a lot more at these events the city is very interested inreally pushing forward and evolving our citybecause it's growing the needs of our citizens are growing we have different types of citizensinside of our community so as we look to grow we are looking for newsolutions new innovative ideas that are part of it and we think that some of the best ideasthey may come from the big companies but a lot of times some of the best ideas come from the local entrepreneurs and developers the start ups the start up companies that really can push through andhave a very open mind when it comes to developing ideas so from my standpointI'm really looking forward to seeing the types of things that come outand I think that this is a really good first step for us to one identify some of these issuesnot issues but the challenges and problems that we can we can evolve and start identifyingsolutions and meet some of the people in our community that we think we can tap intoas partners going forward awesome so for those that want to attenddo you have to go asa team member that you can get involved with this or can you be a spectator so you don't have to be a part of a teamto show up and join we actually have some team building factored into the whole time because most people aren't coming with the team or even coming with an idea they're coming tobe a part of something and maybe learn so you know take for example a studentthey're not coming with a team formed but you know we make sure that everyone is paired up with other people that they can form their team and idea and if somebody wants to come as a spectatorwe welcome that as wellyeah we do have tickets onlinethey start at twenty five dollarsfor anybody that's because we do have an immense amount of food that isyou know have to be factored in for the weekend long event but you know we welcome anybody to come if they want to purchase a ticket and show up onFriday evening which is our kick off event where we're going to have the CEO of Office Depot speakthe vice president of technology from Florida Power and Light and of course the illustrious Pedro over herepresent as well illustriousand and then Sunday morning keep in mind this is twenty four hours straight Sunday morning after being up they have to pitch theirideato a panel of judges and that'll be Sunday at ten so those are the two major times that if you're not necessarily participating but you're really interested you can come in and attend those last question very serious question considering it's a twenty four hour event what is the best energy drink that people can bring to keep themselves awake and going all night oh lordI'ma Gatoradeguy but that's just not going to cut it you know you need somesome really hard for coffee we do have a couple coffeeproviders we have yourtypical hot coffee we'll have there which isSubculture coffee and we have a company called Candid Coffee that's going to be bringing in some cold brew because if there's one thing I know from my days back in college you have to drink a lot of coffee yes that's right okay all right andyou know Redbeull should be sponsoring this week we've we looked to place yeah somebody should place a call yeah how we've looked at that and I I feel there has to be a great commercial opportunity here toolike you know likenot Red Bull gives you wings but it keeps you up for twenty four hours straight to build stuff for the city of Boca Raton there you go there's your marketing plan our new thingin the city manager's office is Celsius it has like it's a Delray Ceach company it's it's and it is amazing we live off of it I'll talk to them all see what I can do they're in Boca Ratonsir they're in Boca I would like to correct you oh okay right now they're a Boca company look at thatthey were actuallyateconomic development just put an awesome eventover at BRiC and the CEO ofCelsius was there very cool awesomekudos to Celsius so Celsius Boca RatonI'll spell it right later well thank you gentlemen again so much for being on the show I really appreciate it and I hope you have an extremely successful event thank you very much thank you for having us thanks for tuning it