Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Are Some Non-coder Activities In Civic Hacking?

Yesterday's post about non-coders featured online resource excerpts that talked about how people who don't do computer programming can participate in civic hacking. Today's post approaches the same issue from a different angle. Below are bullet points listing ways that people other than coders, or developers, can be civic hackers and participate in the upcoming civic hackathon in Appleton. None of the activities below require writing code...

GIS and mapping enthusiasts
  • Research GIS civic hacks other people have done
  • Look at all the Appleton GIS datasets and identify useful civic hacks
  • Contact other GIS people you know about civic hacking, get input, get them involved
  • Lead a project using an existing GIS civic hack from another city such as Dallas or Portland as a model for an Appleton civic hack
  • Lead a new GIS civic hack project that uses Google Maps, OpenStreetMap, or an alternate open source mapping application or tool
  • Lead a workshop to teach people about non-coding GIS hacking tools
Designers and marketers
  • Work on graphic design and/or branding for one of the civic hacks
  • Work on UX for one of the civic hacks that uses a smartphone app or a website
  • Design graphics for civic hack event tshirts
  • Work on graphic design for a "Civic Hacks" webpage on the websites for different cities and counties
  • Promote civic hack events and recruit new civic hackers
  • Promote existing civic hacks and increase number of users
  • Increase visibility and build reputation of the region's civic hacking community
  • Create good branding for the local civic hacking community
Videographers & Photographers
  • Take lots of video throughout the hackathon
  • Set up one or two videocams on tripod to record one area throughout the day and make a time-lapse video of the event
  • Make a documentary video of the hackathon
  • Do a video (five minute?) documentary about one of the civic hacks at the 2015 Appleton hackathon
  • Make a promo video for one of the civic hacks
  • Make a one minute or two minute promo video for future hackathons
  • Do video interviews of individuals and teams participating in the hackathon
  • Do video interviews of random Appleton or Fox Valley citizens about civic hacking
  • Take pictures of the hackathon throughout the event
  • Do photowalk or photo hunt to capture pictures relevant to civic hacking (e.g. buses for bus location hacks like SMSMyBus, fire hydrants for Adopt-A-Hydrant, potholes for SeeClickFix city repairs apps)
  • Take photos for authors, content writers and hack teams
Social media and messaging enthusiasts
  • Generate interesting material about civic hacking and the hackathon on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, WhatsApp, Pinterest, and other social media or sites
  • Promote a civic hack developed at the hackathon and get lots of people using it
  • If interested in being involved with civic hacking on a long term basis, consider launching a DHMN Civic Hacks Twitter account or other civic hacking account and work on getting a large number of followers
Civic Activists and Urbanists
  • Test civic hack apps that are created during the hackathon to identify bugs and potential improvements
  • Look at all the pages of the city of Appleton website and identify data that they or people they know would be very interested in accessing on a smartphone or presented differently with some other type of civic hack
  • Make a list of datasets Appleton collects or generates, or could collect or generate, that you think would be very useful
  • Do user validation and hack promotion -- go to Fox River mall, to College Avenue, or elsewhere to survey what civic hack apps Appleton or Fox Valley people would use, to get people to try out apps and to find other people interested in civic hacking
  • Help with civic user testing by managing, hosting, and/or participating in tests/focus groups around the apps built at hack night, and discussing with everyday people what issues they face accessing gov't services that maybe we can use open tech to improve
  • Build a wiki for northeast Wisconsin civic hacks and put content on it; discuss wiki gardening and identify three or four wiki gardeners (to create a sustainable long term wiki, not just a one-day wiki)
  • Gather info to build an app for how to obtain many different types of public information (see this Blue Banner post)
  • Work with community organizers to develop plan for connecting and expanding the NE Wisc community of civic hackers, including planning and hosting civic hacking events in Appleton or other locations throughout the year
  • Research 'smart cities' or connected cities and develop ideas for civic hacks related to that topic
Citizen Scientists and Makers
  • Make a list of datasets Appleton collects or generates, or could collect or generate, that could be made more useful or interesting by having many citizens also collect or generate the same type of data; e.g. if Appleton collected air quality data at four places around the city, it might be interesting to have citizens collect the same type of data at 100 other points in or near the city.
  • Do online research and make a list of other civic hacks that citizen scientists have participated in
  • Do online research and make a list of other useful citizen science projects that might be turned into civic hacks
  • Identify several devices or sensors that would be useful for generating citizen science data, gather info about designing or building those devices (especially open source designs), build one or more devices (look at the Safecast radiation monitoring project or the Open Water project for inspiration)
  • Launch a new citizen science civic hack project
Students and Teachers
  • Look at the city of Appleton website and do general online research, then make a list of civic hacks that you want to do as a class project or as an individual student project
  • Research the Intel science fair and other science fairs and make a list of civic hacks that could be done for a science fair project
  • Choose a civic hack project and do online research, generating a list of useful links and names of people who might be good contacts if you do that civic hack project; if really interested in the project, start emailing people to ask if they'll collaborate with you on that civic hack
  • Non-coding students and teachers also fall into one or more of the other categories of civic hackers in this post. This category just looks at activities related to schools.
Community Organizers and Facilitators
  • Text, call or email people you know to see if they'll come to the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015 and work with you on civic hacks (you should contact people before the hackathon and during the hackathon
  • Facilitate a Civic Hack Project Planning Canvas session, or Business Model Canvas session, to help make sure civic hacks are useful, used and sustainable
  • Work with civic activists to develop plan for connecting and expanding the NE Wisc community of civic hackers
  • Be an event worker, help get useful stuff for hacking teams, make event run smoothly and be more fun
  • Develop a Fox Valley or NE Wisc OpenData Challenge, a la the Rockford Open Tech Challenge (also discussed on this EIGERlab webpage), develop a project plan and start reaching out to potential partners and resources for the Challenge
  • Organize a group discussion on how to use coding and data knowledge to make public records truly public
  • Create a group or other monthly meeting dedicated to open data and open government through civic hacking, or the use of technological know-how to connect the government with the people for the greater good.
  • Welcome first timers at events and do informal onboarding or orientation for people new to civic hacking, helping them figure out how they can get involved
Authors and Content Writers
  • Test civic hack apps that are created during the hackathon to identify bugs and potential improvements
  • Write onboarding guides, user instructions or other documentation for civic hack apps
  • Write blog post about civic hacks and about the hackathon
  • Generate content for civic hack webpages
  • writing/storytelling by journaling about project/partnership development, interviewing people involved/impacted about their process/success stories
  • Develop the start of an ebook about civic hacking and NE Wisc civic hacks, and develop plan for writing the book during NaNoWriMo
  • Email, call or write NE Wisc media re submitting an article about civic hacking
Funders and Enablers
  • Participate in civic hacking events to learn about civic hacks you can help fund
  • Participate in civic hacking events to learn what civic datasets should be made publicly available for civic hackers
  • Help fund the start, completion, improvement or long term viability of a civic hack
  • Persuade one or two other funders to help fund the start, completion, improvement or long term viability of a civic hack
  • Sponsor all or part of the cost for a civic hackathon, a monthly civic hacking meeting or other civic hacking event 
  • Persuade one or two other funders to sponsor all or part of the cost for a civic hackathon, a monthly civic hacking meeting or other civic hacking event
  • Get to know a few civic hackers and find out how you can help them be more successful
If one of the above activities sound like something you'd like to do or would like to learn more about, mark your calendar for the hackathon in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA on June 6. Register Today for the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015. It's free, but there is a limited number of openings for the event.

Brielle Plump from Code for America suggested some of the activities above. If you know of other civic hacker roles or activities that aren't on the above lists, please send an email with that info to Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. The above list of non-coder activities will be updated periodically to make it as complete as possible.


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