Get ready for Steel City Codefest this weekend, a two day event that attracts some of the city’s most talented technological minds who volunteer to create apps to improve Pittsburgh living.

The 31-hour software app writing competition is limited to 100 participants to maintain a sense of community. Divided into teams of three to six, the “coders, designers and innovation enthusiasts” will be challenged with ideas from local nonprofits and government agencies to create an application that will provide a service to the community.

They will then camp out in various spaces on the Carnegie Library’s second and third floors to get to work.

Gearing up for their code-writing marathon, the participants heard pitches from a dozen “challenge organizations” who gave their recommendations for building the most community-friendly apps at a pitch event held February 6.

For example, 412 Food Rescue (co-founded by Leah Lizarondo of Brazen Kitchen and NEXTpittsburgh), suggested an effective way to alert individuals about when and where fresh perishable food from grocery stores can be picked up and taken to designated drop-off stations to be delivered to those in need.

“Kind of like crowd-sourcing for food distribution,” says Jennifer Wilhelm, innovation and entrepreneurship strategist for the URA (the event sponsor) and director of the event.

Another idea, suggested collaboratively by the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, was a virtual tour guide app of attractions for visitors.

“Any organization could theoretically drop their information into this app and use it,” says Wilhelm.

Nominated and selected by the Steel City Codefest planning committee, the judges—in groups comprised of technology, design and community experts—will select the six finalist teams at the event. After hearing their final presentations the judges will then select the two winning teams, says Wilhelm.

New this year, the public is invited to select a “people’s choice” award.

The big event, now in its third year, begins at 8:30 a.m. on February 21 and ends at 3:30 p.m. on February 22 at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh—Main. There is still room for a few more participants, says Wilhelm, so sign up now.

All ticket holders will be invited to a kickoff party on Friday night.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.