Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Outside Appleton: Upcoming 2015 Civic Hackathons

The "DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015" is only one of many civic hacking events happening around the country and around the world on June 6, 2015. For those who are curious what some other cities are doing, here is a sampling of activities civic hackers have planned in communities other than Appleton, Wisconsin.

The online presence for civic hackathons being held on or near the June 6 National Day of Civic Hacking span the spectrum from zero to lots of info about multiple events in the same city. It appears that some cities who plan to have a civic hacking event on June 6 haven't done much of any organizing yet, while others have at least set up a website for participants to register, and a few communities have even built glitzy websites and lined up a bunch of sponsors. The cities listed below have at least created some online info for interested civic hackers.

Akron, OH
Akron appears to be a middle-of-the-spectrum city, with a WordPress website for the event (not expensive or fancy, quite possibly built by someone who's not a website developer). They have done a certain amount of discoverable marketing for their event, with a Meetup.com webpage and an article in the local paper promoting the hackathon. This appears to be the third annual civic hackathon for Akron, so they'll likely get off to a fast start at 8 AM on June 6.

Greensboro, NC
Greenboro has a more extensive web presence than Akron, with a non-blog website, an Eventbrite registration page, a Meetup.com page, and mentions of the event through Dribbble.com, Facebook, Twitter, a local entrepreneurship organization, and a community events website, as well as announcements on the local television station. A notable aspect of the Greensboro hackathon is that they'll have "blazing fast gigabit Internet" for quick downloading and uploading of their large open data sets. Appleton is likely to have gigabit Internet access within the next 25 years.

Miami, FL
The Miami civic hacking website is much fancier and more well-developed than the above two cities, but in fairness to Akron and Greensboro, Miami is a much larger city, and the Code for Miami civic hackers are an official Code for Amercia (CfA) brigade that's been in Miami for a couple years. Miami has a nice webpage about their June 6 event which lists several projects that Miami hackers plan to work on. They also have an Eventbrite registration page and a Tumblr blog post about the event. One of the different civic hacks Miami will be working on is Florida State Vendor Payments."Jeff Atwater, Florida's CFO, will be joining us. Florida has provided us with Vendor Payments data. Help visualize who we (the State of Florida) pay, for what, and how much?" Because of Wisconsin and Appleton's midwest culture, unfamiliarity with open source tech, and percentage of the economic sector focused on high tech businesses, it will likely be a while before Wisconsin's CFO or Appleton's CFO participates in a civic hackathon with open data sets from their government financial departments.

Tampa and Hillsborough County, FL
The Tampa (and Hillsborough County) civic hackathon is also led by a CfA brigade, so they have a bit of an advantage compared to cities who don't have obvious community leaders for the civic hacking activities. Hillsborough has a typical CfA website along with a blog post and Evenbrite registration page, but it doesn't look like they're quite as organized as Miami yet. They did manage to get an article in the local paper to help promote their two-day event, which is sponsored partially the by Hillsborough County Economic Development Innovation Initiative.

Indianapolis, IN
The Indianapolis event isn't organized by a CfA brigade, but it does appear to be led by a large and well-organized community group which promotes tech businesses and entrepreneurs. They've got an extended Indy Civic Hack program running from May 19 through June 23, with a June 6 civic hackathon being one activity in the program. A post on their website describing the program says:
"Indy Civic Hack will highlight the best and brightest technological minds of Indiana, including teams of Xterns who are participating in TechPoint’s “summer in the city” internship experience. “These Hackathon events are so full of energy from the creative class builders who come out to hack for good that it’s infectious. You really get a feeling for how bright the future of Indy could be if we show them why this city is so great and continue to grow and create more software jobs.” “Indy Civic Hack is going to be one of the largest public-data hack events Indiana has ever seen,” said Nancy Langdon, senior director of international programs with Indy Chamber, and a driving force behind the Indy Civic Hack events. “I’m convinced that hackathons like Indy Civic Hack and others are a key to discovering and inspiring the next generation workforce for Indy metro growing and thriving companies."
Wichita, KS
Wichita is one of the cities that appears to be in the early stages of organizing and publicizing their civic hackathon. They have a Meetup.com site promoting the event and were able to get an article in their local Business Journal, but other than that, the Wichita civic hacking activities appear to be mostly offline.

Minneapolis, MN
The Minneapolis event is sort of an iceberg civic hackathon. It doesn't look like there's much in place right now, with the only easily discoverable online mention being a landing page for the event  and a DevJam post. In spite of the minimal online mention of the event, however, Minneapolis' track record for civic hacking and open data, as demonstrated on the Open Twin Cities website, means they'll probably have an excellent turnout and hack effort when June 6 rolls around.

Hampton Roads, VA
Hampton Roads has a slightly different approach. The city has a CfA bridage with a main website, but the only web presence I could find for the June 6 event was their Eventbrite registration page. The brigade uses Meetup.com for promoting regular civic hacking activities. HamptonRoadHacks of high interest to me are their Health Inspection projects shown on the Hampton Roads project webpage. Maybe a coder in northeast Wisconsin will be interested in creating a Open Health Inspection civic hack for our area.

Macon, GA
Macon seems to have a single webpage for those interested in their civic hackathon. The event is sponsored the state's technology association, so I'm surprised there's not more online promotion of the event. But it is kind of cool that their civic hackers are able to work through the night (in true hacker fashion) at their hackathon venue and that it's a two-day event in Macon.

Bangor, ME
The Bangor civic hack day was included for a bunch of reasons. First, it may be a bit cliche, but I liked their webpage countdown clock. Second, their "Civic Hack Day" is a two-day event. Third, neither of the event's two days is June 6. Fourth, Bangor has a CfA brigade, but the event website is just a landing page. Fifth, they don't have a venue secured yet according to the website. Sixth, In spite of the apparently slow-ramping promotional effort for the 2015 event, they have a really cool branding webpage on Behance, and one of their GitHub pages indicates they're doing intentional planning for the hack day (their fourth annual event, I think).

That's a quick overview for you of some non-Appleton civic hackathons coming up in only a few weeks.

If you have not yet registered for the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015, Click Here And Register Today. It's FREE...

[hmmm...I feel somewhat negligent by not having a Meetup.com site promoting the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015. I wonder if Meetup.com would let me have an event webpage that just points to the Eventbrite registration page... :]


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