National Day of Civic Hacking 2014 Live Blog

May 30, 2014 9:42 am PST | Data as a Service


Sunday, June 1, 2014

4:00 p.m. PT Update from Chattanooga:

After an amazing lunch of pulled pork, we chugged (get it, Chattanooga Choo Choo) through the rest of the afternoon until demos.
Some of the highlights of the demos:
1.) Soft launch of the open data portal (partnered with the City of Chattanooga and Socrata). More than 37 datasets and 600,000 rows of data unlocked in less than a week. One example came from the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, in which we were able to take a 30+ page .pdf of information workforce recruiting and training centers, and turn it into a dynamic dataset and map.
2.) Soft launch of the new – an interactive handbook for the citizens of Chattanooga. This is a guide to all things related to moving into and living in Chattanooga
3.) Code XX, a working group of women coders in Chattanooga, introduced Chattanewbies, a forthcoming tool for introducing new citizens of Chattanooga to other citizens and other newcomers to the city.
4.) iEngage – an idea for a platform to connect people who want to volunteer with organizations seeking volunteers to address social problems.
5.) Android-based coding game for elementary school-aged children, which is designed to help introduce younger generations to coding.
6.) GetBizy dubbed “Tinder for Biz Partners” (being supported by the Mozilla Community Fund)
7.) DataFPS – platform of 3D interaction with the world around you where virtual and real world meet through geospatial information
8.) Chattanooga Library had a host of cool stuff to show off:
a.) app that lets citizens upvote the types of courses they’d like to be taught in the community, and pairing those courses with other members of the community who can teach them;
b.) easy way to map whether or not citizens live within the library’s boundaries
c.) an app that streamlines the library’s internal and external services to improve efficiency
And that’s a wrap! #hackanooga was a huge success!!

9:45 a.m. PT Update from Clint Tseng in Chicago:

One group created visualizations that would fit in with the Big Data exhibit currently ongoing at the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Some of the displays simply lay out in stark visual terms what we already know: the geographic distribution of crime and income disparity throughout the city is something everybody is all-too-familiar with, particularly amongst an audience focused on community and youth issues.

Others point out neat correlations like CTA L ridership dropping as the Divvy bikesharing service surfaced in the city. And of course, because this is the Planetarium, many map displays were run over time in Microsoft’s Worldwide Telescope, which enables some pretty great storytelling.

Yesterday I mentioned that a group was tackling the issue of LGBT homeless youth. As a refresher, it turns out that 5% of the general youth population identifies as LGBT, whereas 40% of homeless youth do — the implication is that they’re being thrown out of their homes.

As an interesting tack on hackathon project management, the group came up with 6 small and independent projects that all come together to form different aspects of solutions to the problem, including calendars, forms, and locator services.

The next group tackled a problem directly issued from Mikva Challenge, addressing the intrusiveness of ankle tracking bracelets for juvenile parolees. They did so by leveraging cell phones and regular check-ins rather than an unremovable piece of hardware.

As a user experience designer, I’m delighted to see that they ran a design process for the app that included paper prototyping! Even professional software companies neglect that step quite frequently. They also created the rough equivalent of acceptance criteria as part of a walkthrough narrative of the flow of the app.

Amusingly, the actual technical solution is as simple as posting a selfie on Instagram every hour — and the app texts you to remind you to do so if you’re overdue, and to thank you when you check in. Here, GitHub’s (and formerly Zooniverse’s) Arfon Smith checks in early in the morning.

Teens often suffer through abusive relationships without realizing that they are unhealthy, either mentally or physically. Our next group aimed to deal with this through peer identification and support. The first component is a public approach, where anyone who sees publicly evidence of an abusive relationship can post on Twitter with the hashtag #isawthis, and it will get geotagged on a map with a message.

The next component was an education approach, where different aspects and symptoms of abusive relationships are taught through the use of meme images. In a neat twist, if a friend is undergoing a bad relationship but you feel uncomfortable confronting them directly, the site makes it easy to share the images publicly on your Facebook feed.

The final component was an interactive quiz that helps teens identify if they or their friends should be worried about their relationship.

Give n Kind is a nonprofit group aimed at connecting donors with excess supplies and materials directly with nonprofits in need. They created an app at the event that facilitates this interaction, allowing donors and nonprofits to sign up for accounts and indicate their needs or possible donations. The donor gets a tax write-off, which is a nice touch.

The self-named “The Sharks” (for the sake of having a name, they say) tackled an interesting challenge: the lack of information on local nonprofits that can help the local community, or individuals in a pinch. The lack of information, of course, leads directly to a lack of access for those who need it most.

They aimed to solve two problems here: the lack of a listing to begin with, and then the lack of community-driven information about those listings. You can find Yelp ratings on reviews, but seldom find similar ratings for community centers or clinics.

To solve the lack of listing information, they wanted to take tax information from the federal government and local business license information from the City of Chicago’s data portal and cross-reference them to figure out which local facilities were nonprofits. However, this proved to be too much data to churn through on short notice, so they instead took disparate datasets provided by the city that each covered a portion of relevant facilities, and combined them all together.

The last group up created an app to help teens dealing with school culture or code of conduct issues, allowing them to search quickly through often-expansive school rulebooks and pinpoint the information they need to know about their infraction. It’s called SCCoogle, and in the course of creating the app, they had to first digitize the rulebooks themselves, which were only available in PDF form.

As further work, they’d like to go through the legalese in the books and reword them in terms that teens could actually understand, and track qualitatively and quantitatively the actual results from various infractions, so that they can be both analyzed in bulk, as well as help students make educated decisions or arguments for their own incidents.


9:30 a.m. PT Update from Houston:

Hello from Houston!

Conner and Isaac are sixth graders from Lanier Middle School. They practiced their three-minute pitch with Jeff Reichman, Houston CfA Brigade Captain and City of Houston Open Innovation Hackathon organizer. Conner and Isaac were not satisfied doing just one project like the adults, so they did three.


7:50 a.m. PT Update from Chattanooga:

Most of us held through midnight or so, but a few brave souls plowed on all night!

This morning we got started with amazing Southern-style biscuits and yoga! Groups are back at work — we have five teams making big headway on their projects. Meanwhile, the data and geo team continue to add and clean more data for the Open Chattanooga data portal which was soft launched yesterday. We’re already almost at 600,000 rows of data in less than a week.

Good morning, hackers! Check in and let us know what you’re up to this morning!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

We’re shutting it down for the night but we’ll return bright and early to cover all Sunday events. Sleep tight, hackers!

6:00 p.m. PT Indy:


5:50 p.m. PT NOVA:

Updates from the team and coder presentations:
1) One group looked at CFPB HUMDA data, using R to perform some statistical analysis, and then loaded it into Socrata to visualize the data on maps to see trends
2) One coder responded to the EPA challenge and created a mobile app for people out in the field to easily send a bloom report to the EPA
3) Another coder responded to the EPA challenge and used an image algorithm to help the public determine the size and color of an algae bloom so they can send more helpful information to the EPA
4) Students from TJ High School used CFPB consumer complaint data on Google Fusion tables to create a map and network charts to show where complaints are and how banks and types of complaints are related.
5) A group worked on the Ethics challenge to allow government employees to look up individuals from the Senate and the House databases to determine if they are a lobbyist. This will let them know if they can accept a gift from that individual. 
6) One individual thought about using behavioral analysis to help the City of Alexandria serve up data and resources for what the user is interested in.
7) One coder created a map where users can move a slider on the page to see street closures change over time.
And the winner is….#3: the harmful algae bloom for a prize of a Tesla One.

5:35 p.m. PT San Francisco:

Four main groups centered around issues mostly important to college students:

1. Mental Health – informing students on depression and other mental health issues, connecting them with healthcare resources
2. Education – How can Department of Education improve transparency access to data and increase innovation?
Separate project: Military Credit Evaluation Tool (MCET) Assist military veterans in determining which college will accept their military training credits.
Goals for tool: 
Help narrow down colleges
Help promote outreach to to veterans
Provide college profiles
Source for datasets:
3. Algae bloom – devastating, 50 states, tool to report – prepare and prevent
4. Peace corps – helping students find a place in the world which they want to go to, informed by data on diseases in the area.
Quickly get a sense of the breadth of countries, jobs, departure dates, efficiently navigable data, sharing capabilities.

5:30 p.m. PT Seattle: 

A group named WA Homelessness built a realtime visualization of homeless data using the Socrata platform and our API. Cool stuff!

4:30 p.m. PT Update from Seattle

The spokesperson from the group is a volunteer from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. His name is Bob Edmiston and they call the technology DIY bike and pedestrian counter’. They believe the more we know about how people use our streets, the better we can build infrastructure, i.e. bike lanes, to support and encourage them. Also, Greenways wants the data to make a compelling argument for why they need more funds to do their work. Plus, this technology will help give them Data for their baseline so that they can measure their impact and be accountable to funders and the community: if they spend tax dollars, they owe it to tax payers to show the impact.  They have three teams working on this: the hardware (arduino) team, the video team, and the software team. There are a total of about 10 people who didn’t know another until today.


4:15 p.m. PT Update from #CfATL and Patrick Lamphere and Meredith Slota:

After a day and a half of high caliber work, final presentations kicked off at 3:00 here in Atlanta.  All the teams focused on the theme of food security and the logistical issues involved with getting food to those who need it most; and our 80+ participants spread amongst 13 teams all did an outstanding job!  I was extremely impressed with the quality and depth of the teams, and picking a top-3 (plus honorable mention) was extremely challenging.  Again, many thanks to the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) and the Atlanta Community Food Bank (ACFB) for hosting the event – everything ran smoothly and a great time was had by all!

Here’s a brief synopsis of the projects that were presented, in no particular order until we get to the winners.
  • Team UX performed a review of the user interface of the Atlanta Community Food Bank’s old and new public websites, and offered suggestions for improvements to make information easier to find
  • Team Harvest Overflow designed a tool to allow all of the local food banks that the ACFB serves to quickly and easily share excess food resources via a web portal or SMS
  • The Truck Loading team developed a web portal and C++ app to optimize the loading of the AFCB’s delivery trucks and plan their routes.
  • The Online Ordering Portal team tackled the challenge of updating the outdated web front-end software used by the AFCB’s constituent agencies to order food.
  • The Farm Futures team leveraged open data sets to map optimal locations to locate urban farms and track food deserts.
  • The Local Produce Incentive team designed a program to encourage SNAP food-aid recipients to buy healthier foods by subsidizing half the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables, then reimbursing the retailers involved.
  • The API team worked to extract and normalize the AFCB’s datasets, then placed them on the Atlanta Brigade’s Open Data Network site ( for others to leverage
  • The Census/SNAP team took on the daunting task of pulling together all of the disparate data around food insecurity (the feeling that you may not be able to afford food) and planned out how to leverage that data in the future
  • The Agency Case Management team designed a system to track food from initial acquisition/donation all the way through the system and agencies to the final recipient. 
And the winners were:
Honorable Mention – The Order Portal team, who took on the unglamorous task of updating ACFB’s primary database from SQL 2000 to SQL 2012, and also took the time to clean up the application’s code along the way.
Third Place – Team Droopal, who combined Arduino hardware and software to notify members of the Concrete Jungle (who collect fruit from urban trees and donate it to local food banks) that a tree is ready for harvest by measuring how far a branch has drooped under the weight of the fruit.
Second Place – Team Food Tree – who developed a simple SMS app that agencies can use to notify each other if they have excess resources to share (food, space, volunteers, or transport); or if they need resources in any of those same categories.
First Place – Team Foogler – who developed an infrastructure for agencies to easily put a website to attract clients, volunteers, and donors; as well as added simple search tools for people in need to quickly find the resources they require.
Again, thanks to our hosts and all the participants, and a special thanks to my colleague Meredith – who willingly stepped in to help no matter what was needed.  The teams all did fabulous work, and I can’t wait to see how the ACFB is able to build on the work they’ve done!

4:00 p.m. PT Update from NYC:

After a long day of CityCamp Unconference sessions and furious civic hacking, the following projects were presented:

– Data Analysis of Real-time bus location data vs. GTFS schedule data to see how late buses are at different times of the week.
– Data Analysis of ACRIS, NYC’s Real Property transaction dataset.  The data was imported into Google BigQuery to more easily crunch the numbers.
– A team of high school students mashed up SAT scores and socio-economic data to analyze and map school efficiency
– Wishlist – An app that helps NYC middle school students choose a high school.  (replacement for the current printed catalog)
– Communitask – A community task list web app where anyone can create a civic-minded task and others can work towards completing it.

-Dangerous Roads NYC – An app that uses the newly released NYC crash data to show you high-risk intersections along your cycling route.

3:45 p.m. PT Update from Baltimore:

After a long day of coding the teams in Baltimore have put the finishing touches on their apps for civic awesomeness.


Baltimore Vacants was able to build on last year’s app by linking it to another project here at HackBaltimore – the BNIA (Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance). The site is powered by Open Baltimore – a Socrata Open Data Portal. Now you can look up a target address and find out about vacant properties nearby, but also layer in information about crime, foreclosures, health index, weatherization and more. Go to to check it out – they expect to have this visualization layer live by tomorrow.
The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Project provides side-by-side heat map comparisons of Baltimore City. Everything is shareable via unique URLs, and they added a hover functionality to get updates across the maps and demographics currently being visualized.
The State of Maryland StateStat, led by Amber Ivey, teamed up with Chris from RedOwl Analytics, and Louis and Chris from Socrata to build out a site to help veterans find available jobs. Amber was able to create and upload the information about the centers on site today, and Chris from Red Owl, with a little primer from Louis Fettet, was able to easily access that data (hosted on and pull it into the final site. Dave and Amber couldn’t believe the simplicity and potential the SODA API opened up for the end product. The site is hosted live at and the source is at

3:10 p.m. PT Update from Indy:

A few other highlights…

  • 12 teams comprised of 100-ish hackers
  • Event organizers from Social Health Insights, Brian Norris and Mark Silverberg, and Indy Chamber, Matt Kirby organized an amazing event – especially for the first civic hackathon using government data in the greater Indianapolis area.
  • Speakers kicking things off (in order)

o    Matt Kirby from Indy Chamber

o    Brian Norris from Social Health Insights

o    Paul Baltzell, CIO State of Indiana

o    Congresswoman Susan Brooks, State of Indiana District 5

o    Jesse Romine, Socrata

o    Back to Matt & Brian then hacking began!

  • State CIO, State Congresswoman, and City of Indianapolis Mayor’s office represented
  • News ( was here for a couple of hours and planning a piece for tonight’s evening news


3:00 p.m. PT update from Nashville: 

8hrs down – 12hrs remain in The Music City! (except for those who are dropping code tonight  instead of hitting the Nashville music + bar scene)
It’s a hive of activity here in Nashville today– you know App awesomeness is well underway when all you see are heads-down, frantic typing, multiple cans of empty soda, UI mocks, and an occasional philosophical conversation on Ruby, Java, Agile, JSON, etc.
Brief recap:
– 100 people getting their code on!
– Mayor Dean dropped in, met with all the teams and asked a ton of questions.
– Projects focused on 311, Parks, Historical landmarks, education, gentrification, finding English language classes, location data for Music City Center, parking, taxis, and gamification for visiting cool places around town to name a few
– Jeff Yarbro (running for State Senate – 21st District) came and listened in on all the ideas + pitched his own
– Joined in the live G Hangout for the Multi-City innovation campaign (Boston, Metro Nashville/Davidson County, Palo Alto, + Raleigh); some great app prototypes!
– Onward!

1:45 p.m. PT update from Boston:

A group called Union Capital at NDoCH Boston discuss their app, what it means, and why they’re here.
Barbara talks about Socrata, what she does, why she’s here, why she loves Civic Hacking, and what her project group is all about.
Chattanooga checking in at 1:30 p.m. PT: 
1.) The City of Chattanooga (which just signed its open data policy) just announced a partnership between the local schools, Code for America, and Open Chattanooga to create a brigade of community-driven, citizen testers for the developer/creative community within Chattanooga. 
2.) One group is working on creating an educational app for handicapped students. They’ve made a lot of progress in creating an API, setting up their env, and creating a data model.
3.) Another group is creating an app for citizens moving into / living in Chattanooga to help them deal with the nuances of Tennessee and Chattanooga.
4.) A new group just drafted “GitBusy” – a Tinder-like app for professionals to be paired with potential projects/employers.
5.) Also, there is lots of data cleaning and creating of APIs using the Socrata platform. One hacker is working to upload realtime bike-sharing and bus-ridership information into Socrata, while another is extracting information from pdfs and throwing it into Socrata
6.) A dynamic duo have made the most progress by creating an android app (from scratch) to help teach elementary school-aged kids to code (JS, PHP, HTML, or something else).
7.) Everyone is in need of coffee and/or beer….neither are currently available.  🙂

Hack for LA is kicking off alongside #TechLA2014. on display in City Hall Rotunda
C1E095C3-5913-45E0-9EAC-F0E25818B655 on display in council chambers

Mayor Garcetti introducing the site

Jessica Carsten just demoed the newly launched and all the dev and Hack for Change resources to great interest. 

She was joined at the front by the Assitant GM of ITA and the Deputy Mayor of Innovation, Rick Cole. Mayor Garcetti is making his way around the groups now learning about what is being built on top of LA Data. 
Over 420 hackers are in attendance!!


12:05 p.m. PT Update from Boston:

Somerville’s Greentown Labs is abuzz with the sound of chatter and keyboards. A group of over a dozen developers sits in a long conference room planning out the backend architecture for an application that facilitates donations to the homeless.
Most of the developers in this group come from Launch Academy, a local 18-week Ruby on Rails developer bootcamp for training developers. They are three weeks deep into the bootcamp, and for many of them, this is their first hackathon.

11:30 a.m. PT Update from the ATX:

Cam & Adrian are kicking up their boots, throwing down some BBQ, and getting their hack on in Austin.

St. Edward’s University, with co-presenters South by Southwest Interactive and Open Austin, is hosting the second annual ATX Hack for Change on the St. Edward’s in south Austin.  Nearly 300 hackers, designers, journalists, and students are on site here building all kinds of cool stuff. 
Awesome projects include:
ATXFloods: How might we better leverage volunteer responders to make the commute better and safer in hazardous weather conditions?  The know-how to leverage volunteer responders could later be shared and transferred to other Austin City Department projects.
311 vs. 10-One District Map. Problem: Current 311 data tools do not use the new 10 – one representation system and fail to communicate trends in service requests. Project: Create a tool that allows residents to visualize trends in 311 service requests based on their geography, request type, and the new 10 – one system.
How-To Content for Citizen Data Analysts. Problem: Current documentation/tutorials on how to use to City of Austin Data Portal are not unique to the CoA portal and only support video learning. Project: Create a written body of content effectively educating all Austinites on how they can use the Data Portal and why they might want to.
Pipeline. Problem: Many Austinites want information about the projects and policies that the City is working on, but do not find it easy to stay informed. Project: Create an MVP of an interface that connects multiple City systems and presents information about projects, policies, and meetings in a single, easy-to-use location.
Urban Patchwork.  Problem: Urban gardens are popping up all over Austin, and every day new Austinites want to get involved, but there is a communication bottleneck hindering their ability to find and participate in urban gardening. Project: Build a map that can be populated by user-submitted forms describing urban gardening sites and how other members of the community can get in contact with and support their nearest garden.
We are excited to provide technical support, how-tos, backrubs, high fives, back pats, and whatever else gets these apps up and running.
Yee-haw from TX!

Live pitches at Seattle: 

This is where the magic starts, live pitches.  Sabra Schneider, Interim CTO, City of Seattle was hands on during pitches by listing them on a whiteboard and live tweeting @sabrak
Some of the pitch ideas:
  • Seattle WiKi
  • Bike and pedestrian counter, to track what streets would make the best neighborhood greenways
  • Get me help in my own language
    • Looking for someone to help create an app
  • Neighborhood community forum
  • Activate hub – community ecosystem to connect offline by connecting online
    • Social network for social change
      • Portland, Detroit, Seattle
  • EPA data
  • Community monitoring – Smarter cleanup Duwamish River superfund site
  • OpenStreetMap Mapping

Seattle is getting ready to go!



The event in Seattle is nearly underway as the anticipation to get started grows. 

People are mingling, getting caffeinated and enjoying donuts to get that sugar rush they will need for an all day event.  With kick-off in just a few minutes away you can feel the excitement in the air.  The Interim CTO, Sabra Schneider is here to show her support along with several members of her team, Neil Berry and Bruce Blood. 

The support from the City is tremendous, from offering the venue to having tech resources on site, this is truly a community event.

10:20 a.m. PT Update from #CfATL:

With about 80 people spread amongst 13 teams all focusing on food-related issues, the Atlanta Community Food Bank was the perfect choice to host #cfATL for #hackforchange. We took time out from our furious coding to have a tour of this amazing LEED-Silver Certified facility collects and distributes more than 50 Million pounds of food and supplies and distributes it to needy families through partnerships with local food banks and community organizations across Northwest Georgia.

The food bank also grows their own food, and harvests rainwater from the roof to water their garden.
The food bank also grows their own food, and harvests rainwater from the roof to water their garden.


Example items for volunteers to reference
Example items for volunteers to reference


A bin of freshly donated items, ready for processing.
A bin of freshly donated items, ready for processing.


All food and other items that isn’t new and ordered by the pallet gets inspected and processed through the ‘Food Rescue Center’.  Each item has to be inspected by volunteers to be sure it isn’t expired, spoiled, or otherwise unsuitable for distribution.
All food and other items that isn’t new and ordered by the pallet gets inspected and processed through the ‘Food Rescue Center’. Each item has to be inspected by volunteers to be sure it isn’t expired, spoiled, or otherwise unsuitable for distribution.

P1000352 P1000350 P1000349 P1000348 P1000347 P1000346


Update from Austin, TX:


9:50 a.m. PT: Clare Zimmerman checks in from Code for NoVA:

There were number of presentations of projects and challenges here at the event. Some of the highlights:
– Presentation of work Code for NoVA and NSF have been doing to understand grants and patents for the past year. 
– Presentations of challenges from federal agencies: EPADoE, NSF, CFPB, and more!
Teams have formed and are working hard on everything from data mining to data visualizations to conversations about FOIA requests.
I have been working with a group who is working on an ethics project. When Obama came into office, he signed an Ethics Pledge, stipulating that presidential appointees cannot accept gifts from lobbyists. No exceptions. This law is being considered for expansion to all federal employees, which would overwhelm the ethics offices. The group at this event is looking to build a web and mobile application that would let federal employees quickly search for an individual who offers a gift to see if they are on the list of lobbyists, so that they would know if the can accept it or need to deny the gift. We are currently working on getting the data accessible for the app, and starting to build out the design!

9:30 a.m. PT: Clint Tseng checks in from Chicago:

The people and organizations in Chicago have always exemplified not just how to run great events, but how to build great communities.

Last year, I had the unique pleasure of attending a NDoCH event at the beautiful Adler Planetarium, which was organized and curated by a collision of different organizations: the Adler Planetarium itself and its amazing citizen science organization Zooniverse, whose science and education oriented mission mirrors Socrata’s rather neatly; Mikva Challenge, which focuses on youth problems and solutions; and Free Spirit Media, which produces documentaries about local stories and challenges.
Since then, that collaboration has blossomed, resulting in many events over the past year like Girls Do Hack, which is awesome enough that I shouldn’t have to describe it.
Now, a full year later, I’m once again sitting in the Johnson Star Theater (it sparkles!), watching with pride as youths and adults pitch projects that are mature and sustainable, many of which are actually extensions or improvements on actual ongoing programs here in Chicago. Unique to Adler Civic Hack Day amongst NDoCH events, the focus here is on youth. Participants of all ages are welcome, and there is a special hands-on science learning track for kids who are too young to or do not wish to contribute to solution development. Projects are encouraged to center around issues that affect youths in the area.
Last year, we had projects about issues like food deserts and sexual health, and just now I heard pitches about homelessness and LGBT (turns out that 40 percent of homeless youths identify as LGBT, compared to five percent of the general youth population), getting peer advice, and matching people with mentors, amongst many other great ideas.
More from the Adler after projects get underway.

Chris Rieth at HackBaltimore sent a big update in at 9:00 a.m. PT:

Louis Fettet and Chris Rieth are joining HackBaltimore – and an excited group of Baltimoreans hacking for civic good at the University of Baltimore. We’re joined by coders, designers, students, private sector and public sector leaders.

The pitches this morning were passionate – Amber Ivey from StateStat in Maryland discussed their pitch, an application aimed at solving one of our nation’s most urgent challenges: veteran unemployment. A team has gathered and the work is under way – maps, resume builders, and data about job openings in key industries are all in the mix.
The Baltimore Neighborhood Indicator Alliance is hard at work putting data about schools, crime, housing, parks, and more to work on a map that will help residents and prospective residents compare their neighborhoods across – and track any change in the direction and the degree of change. All to empower residents to smartly measure and track progress, and engage for change.
Other projects underway include a follow up from last year’s event, which mapped Baltimore’s vacants with the hope of one day eradicating one of the city’s most pressing challenges – urban blight from a period of population loss that has begun to reverse itself.
The Maryland Institute College of Art challenged HackBaltimore participants to envision a better digital front door to their city – one that expands access to city services on a mobile-first platform – crossing a digital divide that has opened up between younger and less affluent citizens and their government
Knowledge to Development (K2D) are putting a team together to create an open, accessible database of some of the city’s biggest challenges. They envision an application that lets residents use their smartphones to share pictures, text, and geolocation data to share information about issues they want to see resolved – and help the community prioritize and address those issues. 
There’s an energetic crowd and everyone is excited to build some projects to show off at the end of the day.
Update from #CfATL
The service area for the Atlanta Community Food Bank is enormous – they distribute over 50 million pounds of food a year!


The pre-lunch crowd, pushing through. 3.5 hours until judging!
The pre-lunch crowd, pushing through. 3.5 hours until judging!

More from Hackanooga and Christian Peratsakis: 

“Several teachers here are looking for ways to inspire their students. One is using raspberry pi, robotics, and whatever else she can figure out, with a budget of only $0.02. Yes, that is two cents, the same budget she’s been given each of the last three years.”

Chris Whong is at HackforChangeNYC today and just reported in:

Council Member Ben Kallos is a lawyer, developer, and civic hacker. It’s absolutely amazing to hear a legislator that knows what an API is, and understands how technology can make a major impact on government operations and efficiency.

Councilmember Kallos is presenting to CityCampNYC, BetaNYC’s National Day of Civic Hacking event, sharing several tech-saavy bills he recently introduced in the New York City council. Among these are an openFOIL system that would require Freedom of Information Law records requests to be logged and publicly available in a central online portal

Update 7:50 a.m. PT: Mayor Andy Berke of Chattanooga, Tennessee, just signed an open data policy at the Hack for Change event! 

Steve Ellsworth at #hackfornash:

Teams lining up to pitch their ideas & projects in the Music City - find food services, shelters, 311 tracking, parks.
Teams lining up to pitch their ideas & projects in the Music City – find food services, shelters, 311 tracking, parks.


More caffeine please! 150 Nash techies getting settled in for next 48 hours of building awesomeness!
More caffeine please! 150 Nash techies getting settled in for next 48 hours of building awesomeness!

Christian Peratsaskis at #Hackanooga:


Chris Whong at #HackforChangeNYC:


Louis Fettet at Baltimore: 


Update from Clare Zimmerman at #hackforchangenova:


More pics from #CfATL

Everyone's getting warmed up.
Everyone’s getting warmed up.




Meredith Slota, Socrata team member and all around all star, is ready to go!
Meredith Slota, Socrata team member and all around all star, is ready to go!

5:45 a.m. PT: Let’s get this live blog started today! First update, from Meredith Slota at #CfATL: 

#CfATL reporting for duty! Hacking today begins at 8 a.m. sharp with breakfast, but some folks stayed up almost all night working on their new projects. The focus of this event is food issues, namely food security and access to food — it’s hosted by the Atlanta Community Food Bank, which serves 29 counties in metro Atlanta and north Georgia. Some folks are working on a web tool that estimates the food insecurity rate — the proportion of your neighbors who experience food insecurity — in different counties and states nationwide, based on a statistical model that includes the unemployment rate, the poverty rate, the local median income, and local demographics. Here’s a photo of us trying to decipher the statistical model:


At TCamp14: Clare Zimmerman @ 12:37pm PT

Session: “Open Data from the Inside” – Mark Headd, Devangelist (Accela)
Headd spoke about “civic exhaust” data: the data that comes from government doing everyday work. It is what helps citizens evaluate how well government is doing. Headd said, “The process of publishing data will make governments better at sharing data internally.” He continued, saying cities need to think about “buses, bullets, and bucks” when publishing open data. Transportation data, crime data, and expenditure data are most valuable and popular with citizens.

#Hack4Nash: Steve Ellsworth @ 11:30am PT (Friday): 

Brainstorming on Civic Awesomeness: 


Hack4Nash gets underway!
Hack4Nash gets underway!

NOLA: Daan Lindhout @ 11:00am PT (Friday): 

Designing mobile apps to eradicate blight in New Orleans. Incredibly meaningful. Super passionate crowd working through lunch.
Designing mobile apps to eradicate blight in New Orleans. Incredibly meaningful. Super passionate crowd working through lunch.

This week’s edition of Civic Awesome is being taken over by our live coverage of the National Day of Civic Hacking 2014. Events are already beginning, so check this space often for updates and be sure to follow Socrata on Twitter, using the hashtag #hackforchange, to keep up to date on all things National Day of Civic Hacking 2014.

Also, be sure to watch this quick tutorial from Chris Metcalf, Director, Developer Platform, about the Socrata API: 

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