Tag Archives: hackathon

New Orleans kicks off hackathon series

By Samantha Sunne

Hacks/Hackers New Orleans held its first hackathon this week, digging into dirty assessment data, partial wetlands maps, unanswered recycling questions and other problems just waiting to be solved. The organizers partnered with ONA, which also opened a New Orleans group last year. The HH Nola chapter has grown to almost 200 members since it launched about six months ago.

“We were fortunate to have so many talented participants whose interests converged around issues important to our community,” organizer Troy Thibodeaux said. “Each group came away with some wonderful progress to show for the day, and the call for a follow-up was pretty much unanimous.”

The event drew about 30 people, congregating around topics like public safety and real estate data. The final projects were:

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 7.22.48 AMPrecycle

You’d think a town famous for drinking would know how to recycle, but no. There’s widespread confusion about what you can recycle and where – or if you can even recycle at all. A team put together a demo app called Precycle that informs users of their recycling items and days, and even offers automated reminders. The team planned to expand the app to include compost.

Gulf Wetlands map

The Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental nonprofit, has been trying to analyze wetlands use permits, but struggling to wrangle with some data stored in levelDB. One attendee wrote a parser, and over the course of the day they managed to get the data into a usable format. Next, the group will use it to populate a map of wetlands uses in the Gulf area. Users can see who owns the permit, as well as links to the document itself and deadlines for adding public comment. The current map, seen here, will be expanded by end of 2018 to include Texas and Florida.

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 1.23.44 PMNola guns

Another map produced at the hackathon was of “firearm discharge” incidents in New Orleans, one of the most crime-ridden cities in the U.S. The team wanted to check for a correlation between firearm discharges and neighborhoods, and surprisingly, the tourist-heavy French Quarter was one of the densest areas of the map. In the future, a teammember said, they hope to make the map automatically update.

Calls for Service

Crime data is always some of the most popular data around, for nerds and average citizens alike. Somewhat similar to the guns team, the 911 team put together a visualization dashboard, including a map of calls for service. The tool uses an API to automatically pull data from the New Orleans open data portal. It can be downloaded as HTML and reused for other projects – just replace the data source!

Screen Shot 2017-02-09 at 1.26.02 PM311 app

The local CfA brigade, Code for New Orleans, has been interested in 311 data for a while, and found some brothers in arms at the hackathon. They ended up creating a survey to get feedback about the 311 system and started investigating why the city doesn’t already have an app for submitting issues into the 311 system. Building a mobile app was out of scope for this particular hackathon, but may be a project to tackle in the future.

Assessment data

This team didn’t end up with a friendly public-facing app, sadly, but they certainly tried their hardest. Several intrepid hackers struggled to clean a monster set of 10 years of state assessment data, getting it significantly closer to usability. At least now the data can accessed via several CSVs, rather than writing code. A local reporter expressed interest in using it for a story, and in fact, assessment data was the most popular topic among all at the hackathon.

The assessment data is one project that is likely to be continued at another hackathon at a later date. Several attendees expressed interest in a series of civic hacking hackathons, something of a rare occurrence in New Orleans. More hacking and problem-solving to come!

Hacks/Hackers NYC: Download Investigative Journalism Icons for Free

Hacks/Hackers NYC Noun Project investigative journalism iconathon drone
SuperPACs. Drones. Gerrymandering. Dark Money. How do you quickly illustrate these concepts in a way that is meaningful and impactful to an audience of different education levels and cultural backgrounds? That was the challenge set out before a group of 60 volunteers at the February Hacks/Hackers NYC Investigative Journalism Iconathon led by The Noun Project in partnership with ProPublica.

Hacks/Hackers NYC Noun Project iconathon
Journalists, editors, graphic designers, web developers and engaged citizens brainstormed and sketched ideas for icons frequently needed throughout news editorials and applications. The goal of creating these symbols is to help guide readers through the in-depth stories investigative journalists help uncover, to provide a graphical shorthand that helps navigate readers through complicated concepts, as well as to help illustrate infographics that help people better understand important facts and correlations.

The final set of 22 investigative journalism symbols are now included in the

Thanks to Knight-Mozilla OpenNews and The New York Times for supporting the event.

(Cross-posted at The Noun Project blog)

Hacks/Hackers New Delhi: How to Visualize Big Data?

Hacks/Hackers New Delhi gathers for their first hackathon.
How to curate and present big data sets in India? A group of about 70 coders and journalists met for the first Hacks/Hackers New Delhi hackathon in order to answer that question.

Attendees introduced themselves to the group and then pitched an idea for a data-driven story. Initial ideas included stories in environment, sports, health and crime. The group then broke into smaller groups of six to eight people, working to scrape and parse their data before coding their interactive data visualizations.

After four hours, the groups met again to present their demos. The ideas presented included:

Mapping the Maha Kumbh Mela which mapped information about the location of public services at the Maha Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious festivals in the world, currently happening in Allahabad, India.

Crimes against women, an interactive map of rape charges by state. The team added additional layers to show how often rape resulted in a police complaint, and how many of these complaints actually led to convictions.

Health investment and doctor availability, which graphed the availability of doctors by state, as well as investment made in each state by international health funding agencies.

Literacy and social ills, which graphed literacy rates per states against the occurrence of other social ills like crime and infant mortality, to see if literacy correlated with lower incidences of social problems.

Infant mortality, a heat map of infant mortality across states that attempts to visualize where the problem was most concentrated across India.

Many groups faced challenges gathering the data they needed, either because such granular data do not exist for India or because the information isn’t in the public domain. To read more about one group’s experience and see clips from their visualization, read journalist Pierre Fitter’s blog post.

The event was co-organized by Hacks/Hackers New Delhi and the 9.9 School of Convergence, a media academy, and partly sponsored by the School of Convergence and Knight-Mozilla OpenNews.

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.

10 Days Left Until Hackathon[YAN] Yerevan 2011

10 Days Left Until Hackathon[YAN] Yerevan 2011

Public Journalism Club and Microsoft Innovation Center Armenia, the organizers of Hackathon[YAN] Yerevan contest which will take place on 17-18 December 2011, have received over 50 applications from teams willing to take part in the competition. 50 teams submitted projects that aim at solving the issues of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.

Projects will be hacking issues related to health, transportation, education, environment, problems of disabled people living in the city and tourism. Hachathon [YAN] Yerevan 2011 is dedicated to solving the problems that Yerevan and city’s inhabitants deal with.

The result of this Hachathon is most likely to be the creation of a number of prototypes for ready-made projects that can be implemented not only by municipal government but also by the structures and circles focused on the city issues, as well as through active engagement of people.

Hackathon[YAN] Yerevan 2011 contest will start on 17 December and will last 24 hours. During the round-the-clock contest, the teams will have to develop and publicly present their programs, applications, mobile solutions and web sites or their prototypes/demo versions to the panel of judges.


  • Best project. Best project will receive a prize from Yerevan Town Hall.
  • Three best projects developed on the basis of Microsoft technology will receive cash prizes from Microsoft Innovation Center (1 million Armenian Drams= 2600 USD, 500, 000 Armenian Drams =1300 USD and 300,000 Armenian Drams = 755 USD respectively, which is about).
  • Three best mobile solutions will receive cash prizes (500,000 Armenian Drams = 1300 USD each) from Enterprise Incubator Foundation in Armenia.
  • Best social project will receive a cash prize of 350,000 Armenian Drams = 900 USD from Cronimet Charity Foundation. Best Media and Society project will receive an implementation grant from Alternative Resources in Media Programme.

Apart from the abovementioned prizes, the participating teams will also receive runner-up prizes and certificates from GNC Alfa Company, Public Journalism Club and Hacks/Hackers.

The panel of judges will have the right to dismiss the announcement of winners in several categories in case there are no projects complying with the terms and standards of the contest.

The deadline for submission of applications was 15 November 2011.

The organizers of the event have held over a dozen meetings with students, representatives of IT industry and public sector in universities presenting the Hackathon and helping interested applicants to form teams.

On November 30 and December 1, Karl Davies-Barrett, DPE technical Lead for CEE and Multi-Country, delivered workshop sessions designed specifically for the participants of Hackathon [YAN] Yerevan 2011 competition. Workshop sessions provided the teams with relevant knowledge on methodology of Microsoft cloud solutions software development as well as current trends and peculiarities of software development for Windows phones.

Purpose of Hackathon[YAN] Yerevan2011: To create an opportunity for creative and innovative people to collaboratively build programs aimed at resolving Yerevan’s issues; to build collaborative atmosphere for both programmers and other specialists for implementing innovative ideas and initiating social reforms; to encourage collaboration between representatives of the IT sector and other fields aimed at the implementation of projects and ideas serving the public interest. The contest is supported by Yerevan Town Hall, Microsoft, Counterpart International Representative Office in Armenia, Enterprise Incubator Foundation, leading telecommunications and information technology companies, media organizations. Media sponsors of Hackathon[YAN] Yerevan 2011 are PanarmenianNet Online News Publication and Arka News Agency.

Contact us if you want to learn more about Hackathon[YAN] Yerevan 2011 at info@pjc.am.

Hacking @ ONA11

Hacks/Hackers Hacking @ ONA11

We came, we hacked, and these projects won:
Judges’ Favorite
Fuego Trends by Andrew Phelps
Discover trending topics on Twitter for a specific user or list.

Most Practical
Interactive Bar Chart Generator by Daigo Fujiwara
A dead-simple Google Charts front-end for reporters who don’t know how to code but who want to make interactive bar charts.

Most Intriguing (tie)
PDF Spy by Angelica Peralta Ramos and Matt Perry
Point at a Web page full of PDFs and see if the content within the PDFs has changed even if title is the same. “Never be fooled by ‘government transparency” again’,” writes Matt Perry. Get the code on Github. Launch it from the command line with python pdfspy.py url-to-index-page path-to-archive

Arab Spring Data Visualizations by Andy Carvin and team
  Visualizations of the Arab Spring tweets collected by Andy Carvin of NPR.

We collected a Google doc of useful resources, including APIs, tools and tips.
Our hashtag: #hhONA11.
Our IRC channel: #hhONA11 on freenode.net

Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011
9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Microsoft NERD Center
Cambridge, Mass.

What is it?

You’ll meet new people, make new friends and prototype news-oriented projects. We’re collecting APIs, tools and data sources on a public Google doc. Be sure to add your favorites!

New to hack days? No need to fear. There’ll be people of all skill levels and skill sets participating.

At the end of the day, our distinguished panel of judges will have a look:

If yours is among the top-rated projects, it’ll get a shout-out at Saturday’s Knight-Mozilla keynote lunch.


Your hack day hosts:
Chrys Wu and Matt Carroll, Hacks/Hackers
Phillip Smith, Knight-Mozilla News Tech Partnership

Support the event

Have something you’d like to contribute to the hack day? We’re looking for APIs, prizes, sponsorship, volunteering — and we’d love to hear from you. Email hackday[at]hackshackers[dot]com.

Our Sponsors

Hacks/Hackers Hacking @ ONA11 is made possible by generous sponsorship from
Microsoft NERD CenterKnight-Mozilla News Technology PartnershipKnight FoundationRovi Corp.DotCloudReutersGitHub

Open All Night: The Great Urban Hack NYC

Who is my landlord?
What are the politics of that restaurant?
When is the best time to catch a cab?
Where are the roaches?
Why do you call part of Chinatown the Lower East Side?
How can I be Pac-Man?!

These questions are answered by the apps cranked out overnight this past weekend at The Great Urban Hack NYC. The mission for the 80 or so journalists and developers there was to design, report on, code and create projects to help New Yorkers get the information they need while strengthening a sense of community. It was open to themes around news, politics, government information, arts, culture or education — pretty much any journalism or technology project (going as far buying views on YouTube related topics) that might help residents connect to each other or the city.

Great Urban Hack NYC, November 2010

It was a cumulation of months of discussion between Hacks/Hackers NYC and the Eyebeam Art + Technology Center. The sponsorship came from AolWNYC Radio, the Knight News Challenge, and Google, all of which helped pay for the fantastic food (Don Giovanni pizzaKati rolls and Rickshaw Dumplings) and gallons of coffee that kept everyone running. Or at least sitting. Extra power provided via Function Drinks and Wifi by Meraki. Plus we had speakers from StreetEasy, SeeClickFix, Bit.ly, Chartbeat, government agencies and NYC’s Big Apps contest talk about their APIs and other offerings. (Full disclosure: I work at WNYC.)

Hacks/Hackers Austin Hosts News Hackathon

A group of coders and journos got together for a Saturday of programming at Austin Community College’s Eastview Campus for the first Hacks/Hackers ATX News Hackathon. The day was quite productive with a variety of news apps discussed and developed over the course of the day. It was a great meeting of technology, news and academia with representation from The University of Texas, Texas State University, The Texas Tribune and many more entities.

On the Hackathon’s Wiki, several resources were identified, including various tools and data sources. Matt Stiles of The Texas Tribune also shared some resources and examples on his Delicious page.

Austin’s first Hackathon resulted in several projects:

Austin Restaurant Inspections – Matt Stiles of The Texas Tribune led the group that tackled Google Fusion Tables in creating this helpful visualization.

Texas Musician Database (Rails app) – a repository of bands and musicians across Texas that can be searched and sorted by city or genre (or both). The database was scraped from the Texas Music Office, as that site didn’t provide much functionality for sorting or filtering bands by genre or city. Don Cruse created the procedure for scraping data, which can be found on his GitHub account, along with the resulting files for the application. Jean Vestal worked with Don on the design of the interface.

Texas Agency Expense Data (Rails app) – using data from Texas Transparency, Tom Brown and his team worked on an app that presented agency expenses in a more meaningful and searchable manner. Code can be found on Tom’s GitHub account.

Asian Population of Austin: using census data, this application was created with IBM’s ManyEyes

See more photos from News Hackathon ATX.

Many thanks to our sponsors: Lunch, courtesy of Community Impact Newspapers, EFF-Austin, GNI Strategies, Hacks/Hackers – funded by the Knight Foundation, Midas Networks, Plutopia Productions, Texas Observer, and The Texas Tribune.

Riotstartr wins grand prize at Independent Media Mobile Hackathon in Chicago

News Hackathon Austin on Oct. 16: Hacks/Hackers/Hacking

On October 16, Hacks/Hackers ATX presents a day-long Hackathon bringing journalists, news bloggers, and government employees together with technology developers to create data-driven news applications, seeking and making sense of open data available from the State of Texas and other sources. The day will start with examples of data-driven news presented by Matt Stiles and Niran Babalola from the Texas Tribune. Then communicators and developers will form groups to define and build applications from sources such as http://www.texastransparency.org/opendata.

Lunch will be served (courtesy of Community Impact Newspaper). Other sponsors include EFF-Austin, GNI Strategies, Hacks/Hackers, funded by the Knight Foundation, Midas Networks, Plutopia Productions, Texas Observer, and Texas Tribune.

Please RSVP for this event.