You don't need to code to be part of Code for Philly - Philly

Software Development

You don’t need to code to be part of Code for Philly

The civic hacking group is organizing a transportation hackathon. It'll be one of three Code for Philly hackathons in 2015.

Developers at the October 2014 Code for Philly meetup.

(Photo by Dan Marcel)

Correction: An earlier version of this post said the transportation hackathon would be held later this month. Due to feedback from Code for Philly partners, the group is pushing it back till June. (2/4/15, 11:29 a.m.)

One of more than 50 Code for America brigades in the country, Code for Philly is a volunteer group of coders, organizers and developers working within the Philadelphia area to help with personal and government projects. The group meets weekly and has become a hub for the energy in Philadelphia around civic hacking, the idea of using open data and software culture to make society more transparent and efficient.

Founded in January 2011, the group has crossed 100 meetups and is taking the lead in civic-minded hackathons this year. In June, Code for Philly is hosting a transportation hackathon, a version of which was first held in fall 2011.

Coming up in late March, the group is hosting an “Apps for Philly Democracy” hackathon.

See our full list of Philly hackathons

The Code for Philly brigade captain is Chris Alfano, one of the founders of Northern Liberties web dev firm Jarvus Innovations, which gets many of its employees to take part in civic hacking events. The goal of Code for Philly is achieved through creating data visualizations, reviewing open data sources and looking over official records. After reviewing the information, the group provides it to the public in a readable format.

Attendees at the December 2014 Code for Philly meetup. (Photo by Christopher Wink)

“We’re trying to do things that make it more transparent around how the city operates,” said Chris Kunkel, a group organizer for Code for Philly and another Jarvus team member.


Though the group organizes other events, like hackathons, and gets involved in other issues — it’s a partner on’s upcoming Mayoral Forum, for instance — the bedrock of the Code for Philly community is the weekly meetups. The events range in size — one in October had only a handful and one in December had more than 30 — but the group wants more people to know you don’t have to be a developer to join in, said Kunkel.

Along with a desire for more government transparency, the group also works to develop apps and software that help other nonprofits and local companies better visualize raw data and information.

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