By Zachary Rendin
Code for Philly, a brigade member of the Code for America organization, organized an Apps for Democracy hackathon. The event brought together journalist, data-scientist, programers, and web-designers, who spent their entire weekend in the City of Philadelphia’s Innovation Lab. The civic hackers are all brought together with the idea that they can create positive civic change through the use of technology.
The idea of a hackathon is to utilize open-data sets, that in this case were provided by the City of Philadelphia, to create projects that contribute to the democratic process. The event informally began in the City Council Caucus room on Friday night, this event was free and open to the public. Attendees were welcomed to the caucus room to pitch project ideas, that were then neatly laid out on a large round table set in the middle of the room. If an attendee liked the idea, they would place a gold star on the piece of poster paper the idea was explained on.
Saturday morning, the hackathon officially kicked off. The top rated project leaders recruited a variety of skill-sets for their idea. It seems some core elements are programers, designers, developers and a good researcher; if you are building a map a GIS expert would be a key member.
The main projects developed were: Phillywardleaders.com, Philly Vote Check, a candidate comparison shopper, campaign finance transparency application and a map that combined voter participation combined with US census data in the 40th Ward of the city.
The hackathon serves as just a starting point for many of the projects; they are then continued to be developed at Code For Philly’s weekly meet-ups. The meet-ups typically take place at Devnuts, a technology co-working space in the Northern Liberties.
For more information about the projects from the hackathon visit codeforphilly.org.