Monday, June 8, 2015

Media Coverage And Future Civic Hacking In NE Wisconsin

This is a short post highlighting media coverage of the June 6 civic hackathon and presenting a few thoughts about what civic hacking might happen in the future in NE Wisconsin.

Media Coverage

Media coverage of the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015 was limited to two items as far as I know: an article in the Appleton Post Crescent before the event and a short online video clip from Fox 11. From my point of view, media coverage of civic hackers can do the following good things:

  1. Increase awareness of civic hacking in general and of specific civic hacking events.
  2. Increase participation in civic hacking both during and outside of events.
  3. Promote citizen engagement with their cities and counties.
  4. Connect civic hackers by catalyzing formation of personal relationships and by expanding the NE Wisconsin civic hacking community.
  5. Promote open data and transparent government.
  6. Encourage business, government and educational sponsorship and champions by building the legitimacy and visiblity of civic hacking.
  7. Promote use of and engagement with civic hacks.

On May 29, a few days before the civic hackathon in Appleton, the Post Crescent had an online article about the event.
"A group of hackers have their eyes set on the city's government information. It isn't what most would think. They hope to emerge with new tech tools that'll lend to a stronger community. Appleton will host its first Civic Hackathon on June 6 at Lawrence University's Warch Campus Center. It's one of many events planned across the country as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. It's a growing movement, said Bob Waldron of Appleton's Distributed Hacker/Maker Network. The Hackathon isn't solely for those with experience in computer programming and coding. "It's for people who are interested in improving the community," Waldron said...Examples that emerged include mobile apps for bus routes that allow riders to find nearby stops. Some take advantage of GPS, and show bus locations so riders can be prepared for arrivals. Hackathon participants also have created snowplow apps that give motorists real-time updates on what streets have been cleared. The events have led to trail system apps that allow bikers and hikers to plot courses. Communities have even built digital resource directories to assist their homeless populations..."
On June 6, shortly after the event ended, Fox 11 News put a video clip from the event online.

If we want more extensive media coverage of civic hacking in NE Wisconsin, we need to talk with a wide variety of media contacts and find out what types of information and stories are of interest to them. Then we need to provide them with the right combination of text, graphics and links so they see value in publishing the material, have all the info or content they need, and aren't overwhelmed with too much info.

Future Civic Hacking In NE Wisconsin

Individual or Small Group Hacking -- I know Mike Putnam will continue his civic hacking in Appleton and NE Wisconsin. Based on the work other people did related to Mike's civic hacks, I think at least one or two other participants in the June 6 civic hackathon will continue to work with Mike. If you want to connect with Mike, help him with the hacks he has developed, fork his hacks for Kaukauna, Oshkosh or your community, or just learn more about civic hacking in our area, head over to the DHMN Civic Hacks GitHub page. Also check out the Slack channel that Mike set up. Mamadou will for sure continue his work with civic reporting of flash floods, I think Mark will keep poking at bus GIS data, and other civic hackers will no doubt so some hacking on projects they started during the hackathon or other topics that rise in priority.

The Avenue HQ -- A couple of the AHQ denizens said they'd like to host an informal civic hacking
event. I'll work with them to do any prep for the event. We'll announce the event(s) on this blog, as well as publicizing and promoting it through whatever other means people feel are worthwhile. AHQ can hold 30 to 40 people, although we'd probably want a couple cellular wifi hotspots (mobile hotspots) to ensure robust Internet access.

Appleton Makerspace -- If things get crazy at AHQ, and they're not able to host an informal civic hacking event at their place, we will likely host some at the Appleton Makerspace. Several of the hackers at last week's civic hackathon are Makerspace members. We can host about 30 people there most of the time.

De Pere / Green Bay -- Several people from De Pere and Green Bay have said they'd like to see a civic hacking event in their area and a few were at the civic hackathon last week.

Oshkosh -- Several people from Oshkosh have said they'd like to see a civic hacking event in their area and a few of them were also at the civic hackathon on June 6.

Others -- If you want to help organize or host a civic hacking event in your city in NE Wisconsin, email me (bwaldron [at] gmail {dott} com). I'll be happy to help with building the community of civic hackers throughout our region. And keep an eye on this blog -- we'll have posts about upcoming events and also put info on the Events or Registration tab at the top of the site.


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