A weekend for white hats: Second National Day of Civic Hacking is here

Coders and other do-gooders from more than 100 cities and at more than 100 events are pitching in this weekend to try to improve their communities and local governments. It’s the second National Day of Civic Hacking, and it promises to be bigger than last year’s inaugural effort.

And we’re using the word “national” loosely, because NDoCH is going global, with participants in 13 different countries. At the hackathons, participants will try to solve problems by blending the old and the new: They’ll use open data, information that’s increasingly being made available to the public. They’ll bring varying levels of tech know-how, or expertise in other subjects. And they’ll rely on good, old-fashioned teamwork.

The events “help a new class of developers access data and create value for their communities,” Brandon Barnett, director of business innovation at Intel Labs, told SiliconBeat Thursday. For the second year, Intel is the main sponsor of NDoCH. (Last year, we wrote about Intel Labs and its efforts to unlock the value of data.)

After last year’s event, the Silicon Valley chip maker chose six teams for its accelerator program, providing them with access to technology, data analytics, business-model consultation and more. One team (which includes a teenager) created OMG Transit, a mobile app that claims on its website to provide “awesome” real-time transit options in Minneapolis. The app is a one-stop shop that can help users decide whether to take a bus or a train or a car- or bike-sharing service.

Barnett said Intel got a better feel for what the teams needed after last year’s event, so the company boosted its commitment this year. It will also provide software developer kits, Galileo boards and more. Intel sees NDoCH as having “impact beyond just a two-day event,” Barnett said.

Other sponsors include the Knight Foundation and Yahoo, which signed on for the first time. (Yahoo founded co-founded non-profit Random Hacks of Kindness; this year its hackathons in Australia will be part of NDoCH and will focus on disaster preparedness and response, according to a Yahoo spokeswoman.) NDoCH’s main organizers include SecondMuse and Code for America. It’s being held in coordination with the White House and other government agencies at all levels.

There will be several events in the Bay Area on May 31 and June 1, including hackathons Saturday at the Wozniak Lounge at UC Berkeley, the Impact HUB in Oakland, Martin Luther King Library in San Jose and more. More information about these and other hackathons are at the NDoCH website, hackforchange.org.


Photo: Participants at a hackathon at San Francisco State University take part in last year’s National Day of Civic Hacking on June 2, 2013. (Courtesy of National Day of Civic Hacking) 


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