Teens creates app to fight Prince George’s blight -- Gazette.Net


A trio of Prince George’s County students have created a new app they hope can take a bite out of blight in the Kentland and Palmer Park communities.

“Renovo would allow you to be updated on things going on in the community,” said Danielle Dean, 16, of Greenbelt, one of the teenagers who worked on the project. “Also, Renovo will allow people to report and locate vacant housing, and will provide those outside the community a way to see available housing.”

The project was the winner in the Prince George’s County Office of Information Technology’s Teen Summer Faceoff, held Friday in Largo.

Summer student workers with the county Summer Youth Enrichment Program working in the tech office were tasked with finding a technological solution to a problem plaguing a community in Prince George’s County, said Vennard Wright, OIT director.

The 18 teens were divided up into six groups, one for each of the county’s Transforming Neighborhood Initiative, or TNI, regions. The county’s six TNI regions are those that have been identified for targeted services due to the economic challenges faces in those communities, according to the county website.

Each team was assigned a Bowie State University student as a mentor, and had six weeks to research their area, identify a problem, develop and present a solution,” said Sandra Longs, IT training manager for Prince George’s County government.

“They came in not knowing what to expect, not knowing about the TNI areas, and in such a short amount of time, they worked very hard to produce these projects,” Longs said.

Winning team members each received a Samsung Chromebook, provided by OIT.

The Kentland/Palmer Park team singled out vacant properties and blight as their target.

“We did some research into the area, and we found it to be pretty unappealing,” said Denver Smith, 17, of Upper Marlboro.

Smith said the app would hopefully encourage more home purchases in the area, reducing the number of vacant buildings.

The group has a Tumblr page at kentlandpalmerparktni.tumblr.com/ with a link to download the app.

The winning team was comprised of Smith, Dean and Darren Sims, 17, of Upper Marlboro, and mentored by Bowie State student Don Bui, 20.

Richard Williams, senior program manager with Bethesda-based technology company Lockheed Martin, was one of six judges. He said the team’s ability to connect with members of the community helped them win.

“That’s what it came down to — being able to frame a problem, understand the real need and put behind it a plan to execute,” Williams said.

Other team projects included a proposal to create a community garden in Glassmanor, free GED classes in Langley Park and a clearinghouse for donated technology for Marlow Heights.