Hacks/Hackers Bogota Develops New Digital Map: Mi Bogotá Verde

Participants of the first Hacks/Hackers Bogotá hackathon gather for a group photo.

Mi Bogotá Verde, a new, crowdsourced digital map that will track solid waste disposal and other garbage concerns is just a few weeks away from going online in Bogotá.

Hacks/Hackers Bogotá developed this map during its first hackathon Aug. 11.

We got together with the idea of putting together a general environmental map, but as is often the case with a hackathon, what comes in is not necessarily what comes out.

However, we stayed on topic, and ended up with a digital map that will seek citizen input to monitor garbage problems in this city of more than 8 million people.

A screenshot of the map in development.

What is going to make this map stand out is our thumbs-up, thumbs-down approach to the solid waste problem, even in this first phase.

We are kicking off with just three main categories — good practices for dealing with solid waste, bad practices and verified reports. With time, the map will expand to include other urban environmental concerns.

In other words, rather than treating this as a crisis map around solid waste concerns, we will also show where and when something is done right. And we are using the open-source Ushahidi mapping platform to achieve this goal.

The slogan for the map, “Entre todos lo lograremos” also applies to the 20 plus people who showed up for the hackathon. We think it’s a terrific start for a chapter that just came into being in April 2012.

The mapping project was decided upon by a vote at the second Hacks/Hackers Bogotá meeting in late May. A volunteer organizing committee met periodically in June and July to get things going and keep the momentum up.

And when we all got together, the momentum was definitely there, first through our brainstorming and then with our get-down-to-it attitude from all who were there — a mix of journalists, entrepreneurs, designers, developers and engineers.

Brainstorming a strategic planThe group works up outreach strategy and more shares thoughts.

We divided into three groups to get our work done — communications, strategy and technology.
“I love the topic,” said Diana Salazar, who works in strategic digital communications. “And I think this interdisciplinary approach is important to generate optimum results.”

We had lots of help. HubBOG, which fosters co-working and entrepreneurship, opened up one of their workspaces. There was participant spillover from the members and organizers of Bogodev, a meetup group of Web and mobile developers and Bogotech, an organization of entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts.

Technology TeamLuis Hernando Aguilar, standing, explains a point to other members of the technology team at the Hacks/Hackers Bogota hackathon.

The International Center for Journalists, through its Knight International Journalism Fellow in Colombia, Hacks/Hackers co-organizer, Ronnie Lovler provided snacks. Co-organizer Renata Cabrales, social media editor at El Tiempo, got us some great pre-hackathon coverage.

As an added bonus, we were able to be part of the hemispheric initiative, #hacklatam, that connected us and another Bogota group with Miami, Buenos Aires and Santiago in a first effort at virtual regional collaboration.

But even though our first hackathon is over, the work goes on through our Google group. Other chapter members who could not attend the hackathon are contacting us to get involved.

With the commitment of hackathon participants and the growing interest of other chapter members who want to get on board, we expect Mi Bogota Verde, to be up and running before the end of the month. For now, you can also follow us on Twitter at #BogmapaAmbiental.

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