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Hacking for Good, One Community at a Time

On June 6, 2015 thousands of people from 106 communities took part in the National Day of Civic Hacking. Organized by Code for America, the annual event helps people come together and collaborate to make their communities stronger.

The locally organized events welcome more than just those who crunch code. Around the country, organizers engaged people of all backgrounds, including tech experts, government employees, students, entrepreneurs, graphic designers, writers, activists, community groups, and nonprofit representatives.

Here are just some of the impressive National Day of Civic Hacking outcomes:

Wichita, Kansas

This was the first time that Wichita particpated National Day of Civic Hacking. The participants accomplished a lot for a newbie group, including projects to translate online materials about Wichita’s civic services for non-English speaking citizens, create a mobile accessible website with real-time local bus information, and gamify conservation by launching a competition between neighborhoods to inspire lower water usage. Check out the ongoing civic hacking projects in Whichita and get involved in their future hack night meetups.

New York, New York

The Big Apple took on a big project for the National Day of Civic Hacking: counting all the street trees in New York City. The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation used open data to deploy a swarm of green-vest clad volunteers, each with a map of thier assigned city block. Over 2,700 people covered 2,649 blocks and counted 14,693 trees. Thought those numbers are impressive, the job is only 2.1 percent complete. Tree huggers, learn more about NYC’s TreesCount! 2015 and how you can help count the urban forest.

Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Over 100 people came out to hack for good as part of Code for Miami and Code for Fort Lauderdale‘s event for National Day of Civic Hacking. Answering a challenge by state government officials and given new access to government vendor payment data, the volunteers tackled state-wide issues. According to the Miami Herald, in addition to visualizations of department spending using the vendor data, hackers ideas included mapping chemicals in water, helping residents get to a safe place during natural disasters, and “several ideas aimed at improving mass-transit usage or efficiency.”

Louisville, Kentucky

An impressive number of innovative ideas flowed out of Lousiville for the National Day of Civic Hacking. As reported by WFPL News and The Courier-Journal, the Louisville group worked on a project that would connect Medicaid recipients with doctors who accept their health coverage, an app of local restaurant health ratings, a database of youth services, and an interactive map of local crime, safety, and child well-being statistics. Elected officials in Louisville are so in favor of open citywide government data that they’re working on passing an ordinance that would ensure access in the future.

Did you take part in a civic hacking event in your community? Let us know about it in the comments.

Lauren Girardin is a marketing and communications consultant, writer, and trainer. Find her on Twitter at @girardinl.

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