Ever Heard of a Hackathon?
Has your organization ever wanted an app? How about you as an individual, ever thought of a technology solution to a daily problem but you aren’t tech savvy? Have you ever thought “I wish we could create a tool to understand this data”?
On November 15th and 16th you can join a cadre of other Atlantans – government officials, tech nerds, data geeks, coders, concerned citizens, nonprofit works and the like – for a fun two-day experience called Govathon. This second annual event invites the tech savvy and the layman to sit down together in a room full of refreshments, white boards and open-sourced data with the ultimate goal of creating fun and useful products to make our city better. Participants have access to free data sources (think Census information and MARTA statistics) and best of all get to keep whatever they make. Last year participants created things like a mobile parking app to allow mobile parking payments and even a text reminder for meter times, a searchable website for the Department of Parks and Recreation allowing park goers to find and book amenities with ease, and a Crime Blotter for APD providing incident reports and crime maps based on type and neighborhood.
Govathon isn’t the only game in town. Last Spring saw a multitude of hackathon style events including one based on local food hosted by Atlanta Local Food Initiative and a sustainability focused event called Cleanweb. More recently, on the National Day of Civic Hacking, Georgia Tech campus played host to Random Hacks of Kindness. This event pulled in national and even international groups like Peacecorps who got some much needed help on developing cloud-based tools for its overseas volunteers.
If you didn’t attend last year because you didn’t know or didn’t understand Govathon, this year is your chance to have some fun and maybe get a cool new tool for your organization. Hackathons are a great way to find and engage those often-sought but hard to nail-down technology volunteers. For individuals it is a fun way to do something totally different (how often do you pull an all-nighter with total strangers at City Hall???) and maybe even get a new business out of the deal.