Your New Partners:
Understanding Civic Hackathons,
Why You Should be Involved, and
How to Get Started

Andrew Thompson
ath...
Community! Hackathons!
Azavea Makes Civic GIS Software
And we’re also a B Corporation…
…so we do things like Space Apps!
The International Space Apps
Challenge?
 Second annual, twoday hackathon
 Globally organized by
NASA
 Locally organized...
9,147 people, 770 solutions
“OK Andrew,
that’s cool, but
none of us work for
NASA or have a
Space Station…”
“…What are some
examples of great
hackathons closer
to home?”
Apps4Septa / Apps for Philly Transit
Septa.org/hackathon
V3.Septa.mobi
From OnTheMap…
…to PHLWork!
Census API
Third Party Census API!
Github
Github Pages
Github GeoJSON!
School Transit Accessibility
TechCamp Philadelphia: Education
Schools + Budgets API from PDFs
PDFs…ugh! But at least it’s out!
Solar Sunflower: Funded by PA DEP!
Apps from
hackathons are
great, but they are
incidental to the
real benefits.
“[One of] the best things I have
heard a government official say at
a hackathon is, „I never thought
about doing it that w...
Think Different.
 We are all in our own silos, focused on our
own metrics.
 Hackathons help us break out of that.
– Outs...
Making Maps is Easy
Now.
Data is the Hard
Thing.
Hackathons Help You Prepare Data
 Events make good deadlines.
 Deadlines pressure.
 Pressure can make the difference
be...
APIs Describe Data Well
You Can “Dog Food” Them Too!
Preparing Data Helps You Later
 Use your data and APIs
in your own
applications.
 Integrate with data
and processes in o...
What Makes a
Great Hackathon?
How do we get
started?
“You get what you plan for”
 Research past events
 Plan as a whole organization
– “Buy in”

 Look for partners
– Apps f...
“You get what you plan for”
 Come up with interesting challenges.
Think big, but also think achievable.
 NASA challenges...
Partnership – Show up at the event!
Thank your volunteer hackers!
“[Space Apps] is the result of
government recognizing that we
can be more relevant for our
stakeholders and intentionally
...
Thank you!
Want to work with
us? We’re hiring!
Azavea.com
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Your New Partners: Understanding Civic Hackathons, Why You Should be Involved, and How to Get Started

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Andrew Thompson gave this talk at the December 2014 meeting of DVRPC's IREG group, which was billed as a special full-day "Open Source Geo Day" event.

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Transcript of "Your New Partners: Understanding Civic Hackathons, Why You Should be Involved, and How to Get Started"

  1. 1. Your New Partners: Understanding Civic Hackathons, Why You Should be Involved, and How to Get Started Andrew Thompson athompson@azavea.com @azavea @andrewbt
  2. 2. Community! Hackathons!
  3. 3. Azavea Makes Civic GIS Software
  4. 4. And we’re also a B Corporation…
  5. 5. …so we do things like Space Apps!
  6. 6. The International Space Apps Challenge?  Second annual, twoday hackathon  Globally organized by NASA  Locally organized in 83 cities by Local Leads  Teams collaborate globally using data to design solutions to challenges developed by NASA
  7. 7. 9,147 people, 770 solutions
  8. 8. “OK Andrew, that’s cool, but none of us work for NASA or have a Space Station…”
  9. 9. “…What are some examples of great hackathons closer to home?”
  10. 10. Apps4Septa / Apps for Philly Transit
  11. 11. Septa.org/hackathon
  12. 12. V3.Septa.mobi
  13. 13. From OnTheMap…
  14. 14. …to PHLWork!
  15. 15. Census API
  16. 16. Third Party Census API!
  17. 17. Github
  18. 18. Github Pages
  19. 19. Github GeoJSON!
  20. 20. School Transit Accessibility
  21. 21. TechCamp Philadelphia: Education
  22. 22. Schools + Budgets API from PDFs
  23. 23. PDFs…ugh! But at least it’s out!
  24. 24. Solar Sunflower: Funded by PA DEP!
  25. 25. Apps from hackathons are great, but they are incidental to the real benefits.
  26. 26. “[One of] the best things I have heard a government official say at a hackathon is, „I never thought about doing it that way.‟” -Mark Headd, Chief Data Officer
  27. 27. Think Different.  We are all in our own silos, focused on our own metrics.  Hackathons help us break out of that. – Outside “hackers” bring new people + ideas. – Inside “hackers” from other departments bring other perspectives, conversations.  Collaboration sparks innovation.
  28. 28. Making Maps is Easy Now. Data is the Hard Thing.
  29. 29. Hackathons Help You Prepare Data  Events make good deadlines.  Deadlines pressure.  Pressure can make the difference between releasing data, or delaying.  Hackathons make you to think about, prepare, and describe your data in a way fit for external consumption.  Hackers can provide feedback.
  30. 30. APIs Describe Data Well
  31. 31. You Can “Dog Food” Them Too!
  32. 32. Preparing Data Helps You Later  Use your data and APIs in your own applications.  Integrate with data and processes in other departments. – PGW and rental licenses  You get started by releasing data to civic hackers.
  33. 33. What Makes a Great Hackathon? How do we get started?
  34. 34. “You get what you plan for”  Research past events  Plan as a whole organization – “Buy in”  Look for partners – Apps for Philly Transit had several agencies come together.  Outreach, Outreach, Outreach – The best ideas come from diverse crowds. – Meetup.com – Press Releases
  35. 35. “You get what you plan for”  Come up with interesting challenges. Think big, but also think achievable.  NASA challenges each had a Subject Matter Expert who answered questions from teams.  Need a free, quick place to store open data? Use Github! GeoJSON!
  36. 36. Partnership – Show up at the event! Thank your volunteer hackers!
  37. 37. “[Space Apps] is the result of government recognizing that we can be more relevant for our stakeholders and intentionally create a culture of openness. This is crucial as we attempt to evolve into a twenty-first century space program for a twenty-first century democracy.”
  38. 38. Thank you! Want to work with us? We’re hiring! Azavea.com
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