Government by the People: National Day of Civic Hacking

One of my favorite events as the U.S. Chief Data Scientist was National Day of Civic Hacking .

It’s an incredible day where technologists, designers, and anyone else to wants to make their town or city work better come together to tackle challenges and find solutions. It fundamentally is government by the people.

During the National Day of Civic Hacking I got to meet amazing people from small cities to major metropolises all focused on one thing: how can we utilize our collective skills to make the places we live that much better. And here’s the thing: at each one I was blown away by your passion, creativity, and dedication. In short, you inspired me. And you still do.

There’s Steve in Chicago, who has limited control of only one hand and was working with a team to identify all the sidewalks that were inaccessible for wheelchairs. Or the team at the table next to them that was working to figure out how to find out when fruits and vegetables were going to go bad and get them to the people that could use them (especially in food deserts).

The team in Miami taught me the power of cafecito in the afternoon, and also how much a high school student can do in building a chatbot to help people get timely information about city services. And then there was the gentleman who pulled me aside who had just been released from prison. He was there to turn a new chapter by not only learning new tech skills, but also giving back to the community.

Charlotte, your BBQ game is strong and the sweet tea is stronger. But what blew me away is the way you think about open data and how you can use that data to help make a victim of domestic violence or a veteran get the services they need (especially when they are new to the city).

I remember rolling up to South Bend, Indiana and jumping in the middle of a brainstorm on how they could create a software developer kit for the whole city — which turned out to be an idea that we’d later champion across the entire country. Y’all were ahead of the game.

And who can forget St. Louis, where the ribs are out of this world. But more so was the diversity of people you brought together to work on some of the hardest problems we’re facing in society.

On National Day of Civic Hacking, you took ownership of “We the people…” by spending a day using your skills in partnership with others to make the place you live that much better. It’s an incredible thing to see. And we get to see it again this Saturday. There are going to be more than 40 events across the U.S.!

I hope to see as many of you out there as possible. And I want to hear what you’ve built!

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