Ever wanted to do a hackathon? Check out what Open Data Delaware's doing - Technical.ly Delaware

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Feb. 27, 2017 8:25 am

Ever wanted to do a hackathon? Check out what Open Data Delaware’s doing

Learn how to hack for social change through workshops.

Hack for good at a hackathon.

(Photo by Flickr user Jason Taellious)

If you’ve flirted with the idea of joining a hackathon, you need to look at what Open Data Delaware is doing. The group’s aimed at exploring and using data to have a positive impact on Delaware.

One of the ways they’re looking to put that mission into action is through the Open Data Challenge. This series features six workshops spread over six months. There’s an Idea Challenge and, in June, a hackathon that’s part of the National Day of Civic Hacking.

Earlier this week, we sat down with Open Data Delaware Co-Organizer Ryan Harrington. We talked shop and learned more about what they’re looking to accomplish.

The road to the National Day of Civic Hacking starts with the workshop series. One of these workshops went down on Feb. 13, but there will be five more between now and the big event in June.

“We launched the Open Data Challenge as a six-month process,” Harrington told us, “Where you can build the skills you need to be successful at a hackathon while also letting the community come up with the ideas that we need to solve.”

Each of the six workshops centers around a unique topic and arrives with different types of sponsors, partners and organizers. “Our goal is to cover a variety of Skills,” Harrington explained. He offered that the workshops will hit hard skills like data gathering and soft skills like ideation.

The Idea Challenge is on March 15, and this year’s theme is “Access to Hope Through Innovation.” The goal is to come up with ideas for the National Day of Civic Hacking event in June. Teams will meet for three hours to generate an idea before they’ll present to an audience that same evening. You can read more about that event here.

The ideas that win that challenge will be used in Open Data Delaware’s National Day of Civic Hacking event.

Harrington explained that the ideas born from the Idea Challenge will connect to non-profits in Delaware:

Our goal is to find non-profit organizations specifically working on that issue. For example, say it’s access to legal representation, perhaps we’d reach out to the Delaware Center for Justice saying, “We’d like you to come on board and be the experts on this topic.” So, the experts will present the challenges in that context at the National Day of Civic Hacking, teams will then self-organize around those challenges. It can be multiple teams working on one thing, but we’ll do the prodding to make sure that every challenge is represented.

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The National Day of Civic Hacking runs one weekend in June from Friday night through Sunday morning. Self-organized teams will then present their solutions to judges, and the winning solution will earn a cash prize.

“Hackathons are great,” Harrington told us, “but they don’t often produce sustainable solutions.” The cash prize awarded at the hackathon won’t be dished out in a lump sum. The team will instead see it dispersed to them as work on their winning solution is done. That, Harrington explained, is how Open Data Delaware looks to make the winning solution sustainable.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to participate in a hackathon levied at helping the greater good, Open Data Delaware’s got you covered. Hit their workshops, learn how to tackle social issues through data and work for good.

Miss the first workshop? Don’t sweat it. Harrington told us that “each workshop is its own individual thing.” Pick and choose the ones that will help you develop a great skillset, and then participate in the hackathon in June. We’ll let you know as each workshop approaches, so stay tuned.

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Joey Davidson

Joey Davidson is a consumer tech, gaming and science reporter. He's worked in news for nearly 10 years, and now he's looking to make an impact at home in Delaware.

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