Civic Hackers Unite at Delaware’s Upcoming Open Data Challenge Event

May 30, 2017 8:40 am PST | Data as a Service

The organizers of Delaware’s upcoming Access to Hope Through Innovation hackathon expect a diverse group to attend, from retirees to college students and every possible civic-minded community member in between. Event organizer and Open Data Delaware lead Ryan Harrington says, “We typically get two types of people. The experts who are working on this day to day and the learners, who are maybe nervous about coming. I tell them we need everyone’s questions and ideas to make it a rich event.”

open data delaware logo

The Open Data Challenge

“Access to Hope Through Innovation” takes place from June 2 – June 4, wrapping up on National Day of Civic Hacking. The event offers challenges related to access within the Delaware community, including access to food, healthcare, education, community networking, and other public resources. Non-profit partners, The Food Bank of Delaware and Network Delaware, will present these challenges and hope to enhance civic engagement in those areas.

Fellowship grants funded mainly by the State of Delaware will be awarded to first ($12,500) and second place ($5,000) winning teams. To encourage completion of the projects, winners will receive half of the grant at the end of the hackathon competition, and the remainder upon finalizing their idea and making it live. Harrington credits GoCode Colorado for this smart approach to encouraging completion of winning ideas.

The Open Data Challenge hackathon is a culmination of five workshops aimed at getting Delaware citizens involved in using open data for civic-minded innovation. All workshops included partners from leading tech organizations and offered themes like “Design Thinking and Civic Tech” and “Next Level Civic Tech: Build a Plan with Content Strategy.” Socrata sponsored “Crafting Data Recipes Using APIs with Socrata.”


Citizens Spark Open Data in Delaware

The best part of Delaware’s open data story is the active, involved citizens who have created the initial buzz around open data. Before Delaware signed an executive order in January 2016 then launched an open data portal in October 2016, Open Data Delaware was meeting regularly to explore “how we can interact with data to make positive change for local Delaware communities.”

open data meetup in delaware
Photo courtesy: Open Data Delaware

Their Meetup group hosts a weekly “code and coffee” event and monthly workshops and speaker series. Harrington says the state’s open data portal has made creating solutions much simpler. They used to need to request information from the state more often but they rarely filed a FOIA request, they just called. “The state is so small you can find the right contact pretty fast,” says Harrington.


Delaware’s Dedication to Transparency

As with the hackathon event, the new portal is a clear indicator of Delaware’s dedication to open data access for all residents. Delaware’s Open Data Portal helps connect the public to state data on topics like health, education, and recreation, including a map of every bike route in the state. The site also includes a link to the Delaware Open Checkbook site, with financial data on state spending and revenue.

delaware open data portal

“The Open Data Portal reflects our commitment to creating higher levels of openness and transparency in state government,” said Governor Markell. “It provides new access to public information that impacts the lives of Delawareans and their families and we hope that this interactive resource will not only deepen civic engagement, but also empower members of the public, researchers, and others to use this information to recommend solutions to the challenges we face and create new applications that will benefit the government and our communities.”

We wish the best to all the hackers in “The Small Wonder” state this weekend and looking forward to hearing the winning ideas.


Open Data Challenge Event Details

What: Delaware Open Data Challenge Hackathon Weekend

When: 6/2-6/4

Where: 313 Innovation, 1313 North Market Street, Wilmington

More Details: