Socrata Live Blog: National Day of Civic Hacking

Seattle, Baltimore, Atlanta, DC, San Francisco, and Chicago – join Socrata as we share what we’re seeing on the National Day of Civic Hacking.

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Live Blog

Steve Ellsworth @2 pm ET (Sunday)

From the Atlanta National Day of Civic Hacking, I have the following P’s to share:

People: There are a lot of people with unbelievable talent who were involved this past weekend, and more who want to in the future.

Passion: These people are driven to do good for the benefit of humankind; it’s not about them. 

Proficient: What many teams created in the span of 24 – 36hrs was amazing. The Atlanta project that won is a great testament to what can be accomplished

Perseverance: No matter how daunting the challenges are, they just figured out how to get solutions created (albeit partly due to an abundance of Red Bull and Mountain Dew). 


Bridget Quigg @ 2:00 pm PT (Sunday)

San Francisco Day of Civic Hacking, hosted by San Francisco State University, is full of great ideas to help developing countries in agriculture and healthcare. So far we’ve heard responses to two challenges from the Peace Corps. One group just presented a way to help the very rural coffee farmers know the best price they can get for their crop via SMS. And, another group wants to make it easier for both nurses and patients know the locations of medical supplies in their country using text messages.

This event was a great example of how successful growing the open data movement means passionate people need to step up and spread the word. In this case, I want to give a big kudos to organizer Julio Feliciano, as well as Sameer Verma and Pheobe Kwon, for committing themselves to making something happen. Congrats!

SF State Hack Sign


The event was held at the J. Paul Leonard Library on SF State’s campus.

Presenter 1_SF State


App presented that chronicles ballot initiatives in SF and follows up on follows up on how those that are passed get put into action, e.g. time frame, costs, and more.

Med Link_SF State


MedLink uses text messaging capabilities on phones to communicate up-to-date medical supply locations in Gambia and other developing nations.


SF State Coffee Farmers App


Coffee farmers have the opportunity to negotiate a more fair price for their crop by receiving text messages about prices for the season.

Beth Blauer @ 4:00 pm ET (Sunday)

The State of Maryland boasted three events for the National Day of Civic Hacking. These included the AnnapolisWiki Editathon, Hack for Change Baltimore, and Hack for Change Montgomery County.  Socrata’s Beth Blauer attended the event in Baltimore and served as a judge. To quote her on twitter, “Watch how judgy I can be.”

Baltimore_NDoCH Presentation

Baltimore Mayor Rawlings-Blake welcomes the attendees of the event.

Blauer had these notes about the winner teams at the event:

“I was fortunate to serve as a judge in the contest along with Bob from the Sunlight Foundation and Heather from the Baltimore City (newly titled Chief Data Officer). Although we had reps from the Census, EPA, and FEMA our teams decided to hack some of the city’s most notorious problems. Just the winners of the competition say it all:

The first prize awarded was the Most Transparent App. The Sunlight Foundation sponsored the $250 dollar prize for the application that does the best job of liberating data or otherwise improving government transparency. This award went to one of Baltimore’s veteran hackers, Shea Frederick, for an update to his site that pulled data in from the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance to show detailed demographics in Baltimore neighbors against the landscape of vacant properties and lots. 

The second prize awarded was for the Best Philly Fork for the individual or team who best duplicates a civic app already in use by the fine people of Philadelphia. Our event was done in conjunction with the City of Brotherly Love. This is the beginnings of a property tax map that frees opaque city property tax data in a way that allows citizens to see if they are paying taxes that are comprable to their neigbors. It was forked from this highly regarded Philly map 

The third and final prize was for the app or map or idea that could do the most good. There were two finalist that were so good we had to call a tie and in the pinch upped the anty so that we could give a generous payout to both teams.

The first winner was Code for Sex. For those of you who don’t know, Baltimore has a serious sexually transmitted infection problem. We are the syphilis capital of the world. Code for Sex is an application that will allow residents to get tested for STIs at their doctor’s office and be notified of their results online instead of having to come in for a follow up appointment. Currently, only 40 percent of patients come back to learn if they’re infected. In addition, the application allows you to anonymously notify sexual partners of your results. It’s being backed by the health department and was really well thought out. 

The second winner in this category was for an application that was pitched by a librarian in the city’s public library. She wanted an easy-to-use application to help her users craft a resume. In her own words, “LinkedIn is too technical and confusing for the regular clients in her Job Center at the library.” As a result, a team of hackers joined her and created a beautiful and simple guided application that allows for users to answer very basically worded questions and outputs an entire resume in a Word document. It is awesome and I can see it being useful in employment one-stops and libraries all over. 

It was a long and crazy weekend but it was equally inspiring and motivating. I got to close the program tonight and I reiterated my love for this, the greatest city in America. It is so amazing to see in a city that has such a diverse set of problems that we can unite to create a diverse set of solutions. What a great life.”


Baltimore_app from hack

Vacant lots app updated at the event by Shea Frederick.

@11:47 AM PT | TowText: beautifully simple app from Tony Webster @webster

Get a free text message if your car is towed or relocated by the City of Chicago. Check it out:


Marcus Louie @ 1:30 pm ET (Sunday)

Hack for Change DC gathered about 80 people at Google to hack and about another 50 or so at Affinity Labs nearby. 

DC_Hack Group

DC_Hack Chat


Group that focused on a app that allows people to apply for Section 8 housing in many parts of the DC through a single form. 

This group worked on the question:  How do you create a common housing application that can be used to apply for any one (or all) of the 107 Section 8 housing buildings in DC?  Next steps are planned with Bread for the City, the non-profit who proposed the challenge next week.  When the solution is deployed, it can start collecting information on housing applications.

(Marcus Louie from Socrata is third from the left in the back row.)

Saf Rabah @ 1:20 pm ET (Sunday)

NBC covers the #hackforchange event in Kansas City (

Clint Tseng @ 12:55pm ET (Sunday)

Check out the #hackforchange final project results for the youth-focused @adlerskywatch NDoCH event in Chicago:

Tyler at Chicago hackforchange

Clint Tseng @ 12:30pm ET (Sunday)

Final presentations at Alder Planetarium in Chicago for National Civic Day of Hacking.


Bridget Quigg @ 4:40pm PT

Feeding the hungry hackers in Oakland.


Bridget Quigg @ 4:10pm PT

At Open Oakland’s event, more than 70 citizens attended, plus city staff. They came up with 220 questions as a group and found online answers more than 160. Nicole Neditch from the City of Oakland had a highlight moment when an attendee told her that getting involved in the challenge made him feel inspired, and also more aware of how complex government issues are. Shiela (pictured below) is a CfA Fellow in Oakland and helped to host the event.

Oakland Answers live





Bridget Quigg @ 3:50pm PT

At Open Oakland’s event at HubOakland, attendees have brainstormed typical questions that citizens need answered. For example, “Where is the closest park to my house?” They’re brainstorming questions and searching for their their answers online. All of this information will feed a web application called “Oakland Answers.”

Wall posts of questions for "Oakland Answers"National Day of Civic Hacking

Saf Rabah @ 2:44pm PT

A few more visualizations for the FEMA Fire Data Challenge: Map of top 100 ZIP codes for Total Fires and
Chart of #Fires by ZIP code (filtered for 98xxx in WA)

Saf Rabah @ 1:32pm PT

First App of the Day! Federal Emergency Management Agency – (@FEMA) posted a challenge on asking developers to build an online data visualization tool that allows the public and fire departments to view fire incident data summarized by individual and/or multiple zip code. The folks at Socrata built this cool app using DataSlate.

Way to go Darrel Cabales!

Saf Rabah @ 12:49pm PT

#hackforchange Seattle getting started at beautiful city hall. Thanks @Seattle_City for supporting #opendata developers.

Bridget Quigg @ 12:26pm PT

National Day of Civic Hacking banner at the Atlanta event.

Bridget Quigg @ 12:11am PT

Roll up your sleeves and code

* Message from a team member at the CfA offices in San Francisco.

Bridget Quigg @ 11:52am PT

San Francisco State will be hosting a two-day hackathon over the weekend. They have received hacking challenges in from the ACLU, Peace Corps, the Census Bureau, and even more organizations, and they plan to mine data from the City of San Francisco’s open data portal. Here are the organizers (left to right): Sameer Verma, Professor of Information Systems, Julio Feliciano, Web Developer, Phoebe Kwon, Chief Technology Officer.

Bridget Quigg @ 11:32am PT

Code for America Chief of Staff Abhi Nemani and City of San Francisco Deputy Innovation Officer Shannon Spanhake spoke to the group at the National Day of Civic Hacking Kickoff Reception in San Francisco. They highlighted that this weekend’s events will involve more people simultanteously civic hacking across America than ever before. Spanhake said, “For those of us who work in government, this feels like our own national holiday”.

Bridget Quigg @ 10:21am PT

Leaders from Code for America, the Peace Corps, the Census Bureau, San Francisco State and other civic organizations gathered at the Code for America offices in San Francisco on Friday night for a kickoff event for the National Day of Civic Hacking.

Saf Rabah @ 9:04am PT

From @chrismetcalf, Socrata’s developer evangelist: Bookmark our developer API tips on hackpad

Includes links to client code libraries on github, datasets on, and developer documentation on

Follow us on Twitter: @socrata and @chrismetcalf Happy coding!”

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June 7, 2013

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Code for America: Prepped for National Day of Civic Hacking

May 31, 2013