On May 31 and June 1, 2014, the National Day of Civic Hacking will unite technologists, entrepreneurs, developers and other citizens in using open data to improve communities and the governments that serve them.
“I helped set up the first National Day of Civic Hacking with Jimmy Jacobson and Kyle Kelly last year,” said organizer Shawn Looker. “It went very well and was attended by around 110 people. We had a lot of support for the city which made it very successful.”
Shawn Looker and his organizing team hope they can show the City of Las Vegas what its citizens can accomplish with access to the data they have. Last year, the volunteer team had many supporters including the City of Las Vegas, Twilio, and SYN Shop.
“This year, we’re still working on partnerships, but Zappos is our flagship sponsor and Innevation Center is graciously giving us space, wifi and power to hold the event. Twilio is another sponsor we’re working with, and the City of Las Vegas is completely on board again as well,” he said.
Shawn Looker explained that most people assume that a hackathon is just open to technical people. However, the National Day of Civic Hacking is most successful when attendees are from all backgrounds.
“Tech is the easiest one, but the ones we have a harder time reaching and need most are people who use civic services and have problems with them that they think can be handled with technology,” he said. “That’s the people we’d love to see more of, since that’s the people whose lives we’re ultimately working to make easier.”
Registration for students and those under 18 is free of charge.
“We had a group of high school students last year that won the prize for the best use of Twilio in an app,” he said. “It was a great app that went through your current symptoms to help figure out if you had a cold or the flu and if you had the flu, it sent a notification of a flu case to the CDC for tracking. I think that younger kids are getting more involved with tech, and given the chance can show you how amazingly bright they can be. I think hackathons are a good opportunity for younger kids or students to show their peers and their elders what kind of good they can do, given the chance. I’m very excited to see what this year brings, as we had all sorts of very cool projects last year.”
About National Day of Civic Hacking: National Day of Civic Hacking is an event when citizens from around the world will work together with local, state and federal governments as well as private sector organizations with the common goal of improving their community through technology. A band of motivated citizens can create smartphone apps that track the exact locations of public transit vehicles, allow cities to efficiently understand and address the maintenance needs of their citizens, and enable communities to easily share neighborhood news.
About Code for Vegas: Code for Las Vegas is the meetup for discussing ways to deploy, maintain, and sustain civic technology and open data infrastructures.