Civic hacking in Delaware has evolved quite a bit since our first hackathon, the one-day event DataWorks in 2016. It was followed by the first official Open Data Challenge Hackathon last year — a bigger, weekend-long event that awarded a not-insignificant $17,500 in grant money.
Three years in, and the Open Data Challenge now culminates in a monthlong Data Jam (which is a hackathon with a less dangerous-sounding name, an indication that civic hacking has gone mainstream, perhaps), where participants will use open data to help improve recreational accessibility in Delaware with partners DelDot and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).
About $35,000 in grant money will be awarded this year. That’s big.
“Improve” accessibility actually falls short of the Open Data Challenge’s goal:
Delaware has natural beauty and great recreational opportunities. We have parks, forests, beaches, rivers, ponds, bays and an ocean to explore and enjoy. We have roads, trails, bike routes, buses and rail to get us there. But not everyone is always able to take advantage of these opportunities. There are different reasons for this, and different ways to solve these problems. DelDOT and DNREC have come to the Open Data Challenge for help finding solutions.
The Data Jam officially kicks off on Saturday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Evans Hall at the University of Delaware. At the event, challenges will be presented, teams will form and brainstorming will ensue. Over the course of the month, teams will create a prototype (an app, website, Alexa skill or anything that uses Delaware’s open data), which will be presented at the Data Jam Closing in May.
The kickoff is free and open to all who are interested, whether or not they have coding experience. Non-coders can contribute a lot in terms of ideas and problem-solving, especially if they’re members of the community the projects serve. People with disabilities and those facing accessibility issues are strongly encouraged to get involved, with DelDOT providing aid such as ASL interpreters when needed.
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