#Hackville: Hacking solutions for the city and nonprofits in just one day


The newly formed Civic Data Alliance — the city’s official Code for America “brigade” — hosted the second annual National Day of Civic Hacking this weekend. Cities all over the country hosted events that drew tech-types, civic activists and local leaders together to use their skills and the city’s open data to help the city and local nonprofits innovate and solve problems.

This year’s event was even more successful than last year’s hack: The Civic Data Alliance’s leads — Michael Schneurle and Patrick Smith —  lined up projects to work on before the event started, so there was no project generation period needed, and all six hours of the event could be focused on shipping the products.

At the end of the hackathon, there was a brief speech by Ted Smith, the city’s innovation director, and the five teams presented their products. All but one had a Minimum Viable Product to demo.

Photo courtesy of the Civic Data Alliance.

Photo courtesy of the Civic Data Alliance.

The teams:

1. WFPL’s Curious City app

Curious City is an app developed by WBEZ in Chicago that allows users to suggest stories to the station. WFPL wanted help modifying the WBEZ app for Louisville. This team created a model and an extensive instruction manual on how to customize the app for other stations.

2. NC3 Neighborhood Editor

Representatives from the Network Center for Community Change attended #Hackville and helped with the development of two products that will help residents of the West End better engage with their communities. The Neighborhood Editor is part of the OpenStreetMap project. It’s a map of the West End that is editable by people who sign up for an account. You can add buildings, parks, places of interest, and you can also correct errors.

3. NC3 Shareabouts

This is also a map-based program, but it is set up to collect narratives. Shareabouts is a program that asks people to plot positive memories or stories on a map.

4. Shelter Helper: Adopt a Pet

This team had to leave early and presented before I got to the event, so I am using the Civic Data Alliance’s description:

Using the city’s open data portal and Metro Animal Services pet data, we built a website where you can search, filter and browse the available animals to adopt, and then get driving directions texted to your phone to go pick up your sweet little pet.

5. Louisville Minecraft

This was the only product that didn’t ship because it was too ambitious for the time period. But the team will continue to work on building a model of Louisville for the Minecraft computer game.

For more pictures and a more detailed recap of the evening, check out the blog post by Civic Data Alliance’s Michael Schneurle.