Civic Tech Community Tackles Pressing Issues with Seattle’s Open Data

Hacky New Year! Paul Alley, the City of Seattle’s Open Data Manager, provided an overview of Seattle’s Open Data Program to attendees of this year’s Hacky New Year Hackathon, hosted by DemocracyLab. The annual Hacky New Year Hackathon brought the region’s civic tech volunteer community together with grass roots civic data projects to form project teams and implement solutions that address the region’s most pressing civic issues.

According to Paul, “Civic hackathons like these provide innovators with a chance to discover unmet civic data needs, and develop creative solutions that might otherwise never come to fruition. They’re a win-win for municipalities that often have more challenges than resources, and for civic tech volunteers who are often eager to serve their communities but don’t know where to start.”

Unlike traditional hackathons where solutions are developed in a matter of hour or days, Democracy Lab’s hackathon format serves as a marketplace where civic tech volunteers can meet with project teams in need of help. Project teams make their pitches to the volunteer community, then attendees sign up to work on projects and brainstorm on solutions, organize teams, and map out solution plans; the actual implementation and development work takes place after the event. Projects who expressed interest in leveraging Seattle’s open data include Truth Tree, Seattle Voluntech, No School Violence, and Open Source Ecology .