National Day of Civic Hacking unleashes “geek power” on municipal problems
Computer hacking gets a bad rap, but what if a group of hackers helped fight crime or increase government services in your neighborhood? Welcome to the National Day of Civic Hacking, where an estimated 11,000 individuals gathered at 95 events across 38 states to put computer skills to good use – solving community problems with the help of open municipal data.
Held June 1 and 2, the inaugural event spanned over 90 cities and brought together civic leaders, software engineers and everyday citizens with a shared interest in using technology to better communities. As might be expected, the event spawned numerous apps, including one for Rockaway, N.Y., to help address storm damage. A Los Angeles-based app was created to help protect the city’s murals and a Las Vegas app was designed to help backyard chicken farmers, according to event materials.
Primarily sponsored by Intel, with additional support from Rally Software, the events were nationally spearheaded by the White House, and facilitated at the local level by organizations including SecondMuse, Code for America and Random Hacks of Kindness, according to a report in the Minnesota Post.
The Hack for MN event, according to the report, worked on 13 different projects, including transit apps, a phone poll-finding tool, a student tutoring website, a street parking analysis app and an app to help citizens find technology centers.
Many public servants attended the Hack for MN event, including the chief information officer of Minneapolis, the director of the Office of Technology and Communications of St. Paul, the Innovation Program Director of Minnesota and others from departments such as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, according to the Post.
Mayors attended in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, Calif., Baltimore, Md., Kalamazoo, Mich., Louisville, Ky., and Palo Alto, Calif., with Atlanta,Bangor, Maine, and Albuquerque, N.M., declaring June 1 or 2 “Civic Hacking Day,” according to event materials.
“Many people think the term 'hacking' means something bad. Actually there are many good hackers and hacking contests are very popular across the country,” Charlie Auvermann, executive director of the Dawson County Georgia Development Authority told online news source, Access North Georgia. “Dawson County is part of a national day devoted to good hacking that solves complex math equations and puzzles. It is an opportunity to showcase the talents of our students and organizations.”