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Code for Philly / Events / Hackathons / Software / Technology

These were the 7 projects from Code for Philly’s #CaaSH Demo Night

Civic hackers tackled the idea of “City as a Service.”

At Code for Philly's City as a Service Hackathon. (Photo by Katie Wisniewski)

If you think your last month just flew by, imagine how quickly 30 days lapsed for the participants of Code for Philly’s City as a Service Hackathon (that’s #CaaSH for short, homie).
On Tuesday, the coalition of civic hackers held its Project Demo Night at Seer Interactive, following a monthlong push to get civic tech projects off the ground in partnership with community members, organizations and government folks from the City of Philadelphia.
According to Dawn McDougall, Code for Philly’s executive director, the hackathon — which, btw, was backed by AT&T as presenting sponsor — was a test balloon for a different hackathon format, ditching the weekend dash for the big commit.
“This allowed participants to establish partnerships and have more time to prepare,” McDougall said. “For example we’ve wanted to have this collaboration with the city for a long time, and it’s been really exciting to see it all come together.”
(That collaboration meant the teams worked off data sets from 311, the Department of Licenses & Inspections, and there was participation by way of a team from the City’s Office of Innovation and Technology, more on that later.)


So what was the final toll? The civic hackers presented seven projects — some far more polished than others — before a pretty solid lineup of judges:

We asked Chris Alfano, founder of Code for Philly and a national civic tech figure, about the new format. Alfano said your run-of-the-mill weekend dashes tend to focus more on getting the code to work than establishing a platform with depth, and that a monthlong hackathon gives more time to complete a project of substance.
And so, here are the final seven civic tech projects:

1. DeputyDashboard

From the very beginning this project struck a familiar chord: it’s a tool that tracks vacant properties in the city to keep communities and stakeholders informed. It bills itself as a platform that yields opportunities for developers to pounce on hot properties, but also helps end blight. Sounds kinda like FixList, don’t it?

As was expected, FixList founder Stacey Mosley had, er, a few pointers from the judge’s table. “It didn’t seem as though they knew how Sheriff’s Sales process works,” Mosley said, though she ceded that the platform was a validation of the concept behind her own company.

2. Near Green

Presented by developer Marissa Goldberg, the system tracks healthy food stores in Philadelphia. The idea came from Goldberg’s upcoming move to Philly from Jersey, and her search for nearby health food stores. Oh, and they took home the Jawn Award as chosen by the audience in an online flash vote.

3. VoterWise

This project, we’re sad to report, failed to both launch and present a clear idea. According to their site, the platform connects voters and politicians “without advertising dollars getting in the way.” It also claims to be a cross between OkCupid, Wikipedia, Facebook and Reddit for politics. Whoa, slow down. 

4. 311 Dashboard

The first win of this team was their self-chosen moniker: “Hackedashery.” Their second was the Hello World prize for best civic tech initiative from a team first participating in a hackathon.

The group built an interactive digital platform to let citizens view stats from the city’s 311 database.

5. 311 SMS

Though this was the second misfire of the evening, the team behind 311 SMS had a solid idea: a platform that lets users without internet access report issues to 311 through text messages.

6. Leverage

This project was in better shape than the rest of the cohort, as it was the team’s second hackathon attempt at putting together a comprehensive review of campaign finance data in Philly.

The site has an active API which can be leveraged by other cities (and states? and countries?). Thanks to its advanced state, the team behind Leverage took home the Civic Tech award.

7. Stately

The final project of the evening was built by Mjumbe Poe and Tim Wisniewski from the City’s Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation. Stately is a workflow process manager for city government, which seeks to streamline those pesky travel requests, onboarding processes and other bureaucratic tasks.

Wisniewski and Poe Inc. (Photo by Katie Wisniewski)

Wisniewski and Poe Inc. (Photo courtesy of Katie Wisniewski)

Checkout more details from the Demo Night (and the project itself) on Twitter.

Companies: City of Philadelphia / Licenses and Inspections

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