Schedule for 2016 City of Houston Hackathon

Schedule for 2016 City of Houston Hackathon

This is the schedule for the 2016 City of Houston Hackathon.

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Saturday, May 14

9a – 1130a:

Optional: Morning Coffee

This is an optional pre-event for earlybirds and people without a team. We will have a coffee stand from Xela Coffee Roasters, breakfast from Grey Gardens granola, and a whole bunch of ideas to kick around.

1200p – 1230p:

Kickoff & introductions: HTC auditorium.

Guest speakers include Councilmember David Robinson, Judge R.K. Sandill, and Deputy Controller Alex Obregon. Keynote by Kenton Gray, creator of 2015 Houston Hackathon winner Rollout!


Lunch served in the kitchen. Begin work. Check the FAQ for available rooms.

Optional: Intro to Github workshop. Get your computer set up for Github, and learn all about version control for code, documentation, and knowledge transfer. Location: Judge’s Room, 1st floor, left of kitchen.


Dinner served in the kitchen.


Late night snack.

Optional: stay overnight. If you plan to stay overnight, please let the organizers know where you’ll be working. We do not provide toiletries, linens, sleeping bags, etc.

Sunday, May 15

You can arrive as early as you like on Sunday morning.


Coffee & breakfast


Individual team check-ins.


Deadline for submitting your project to DevPost. Work stops. Volunteers begin assembling the auditorium.


Presentation order & briefing. Location: HTC auditorium. If you plan to present your project, you must have your project submitted in DevPost and be physically present.


Presentations begin!




Final awards, cleanup.

March 24: Democracy Hack Night

On March 24, join us for a hack night about technology and democracy. We’ll have great sample projects and a series of lightning talks about voting, tech, data, and the democratic process.

For this event, we’ve partnered with the League of Women Voters. It’s part of a series of democracy-themed events throughout March. More details coming soon!

What is participatory budgeting?

participatory budgeting in the houston area

Sketch City is working on a participatory budgeting pilot program in the Houston area. But what exactly does that mean?

PB is an easy-to-understand, deliberate way of engaging people in the democratic process. In involves crowdsourcing ideas and letting citizens vote on which ideas get implemented.

Here’s a great video from the Participatory Budgeting Project:

We’re exploring several pilot programs with various municipalities and school districts in the Houston area. If you work for an organization that would like to participate in our pilot, please let us know!

What are civic hack nights?

Civic hack nights are free, 2.5 hour events where people get together to work on projects for the public good.

It’s part working, part networking, 100% good times. Here is a video from last October’s hack night.

Who attends civic hack nights?

The event is open to the public. Attendees include software developers, designers, academic researchers, data journalists, high school students, analysts of all stripes, urban planners, policy wonks, entrepreneurs, elected officials, and curious citizens who want to make Houston better through technology.

What should I expect?

Throughout the space, people will break into clusters to discuss and work on projects. Feel free to join in any discussion.

There will be brief announcements and introductions at 630p.

What does the “edition” mean?

Each month throughout 2016, we are experimenting with a theme. This month features a guest speaker and sample projects related to Sustainability. In March, the theme is Democracy.

I don’t code. Is there a place for me?

Yes! Civic hack night is a great place to network, share, and learn from one another. People are friendly and knowledgable. Even if you don’t know how to code, chances are you’ll find something to hack.

What else?

food + drink + wifi provided

This post exists because of Sarah Rigdon, Niki Virani, and Jeff Reichman.

Early Voting Locations App

It’s voting season! Andrew Douglass put together Vote Harris County, a slick web app that helps you find a place to vote. If you use it, tweet to him at @ardouglass!

VIDEO: Mega Hack Night Recap

Last night, we held a hack night with The Hacker Society and Poetic Systems at The Iron Yard Houston. It was awesome! See for yourself:

Houston Hackathon Recap

Did you miss the Houston Hackathon? Over 400 people showed up to work on civic projects with the City of Houston.

Video recap:

Social media recap:

Civic Hack Night Comes Back to Ft. Bend County

Open Houston is sprawling, just like our municipal namesake. We held our first hack night in Fort Bend County last month, and we’re coming back for more. Come join us at the second Fort Bend County Civic Hack Night on August 20.

Demographic Breakdown of Houston's Elected Officials

Demographic Breakdown of Houston's Elected OfficialsRecently, Who Leads Us released a massive dataset that outlines the gender and ethnicity of elected officials across the USA, all the way down to the county level. I dumped that data into Google Sheets, filtered it for Houston (we span three counties!), and provided an overview.

Demographic Breakdown of Houston's Elected Officials

You can view the live data on Google Sheets and comment. You can also download the full dataset on Github. We’ve already forked the repo for Houston and we plan to add in local officials (Mayor, City Council, Controller, etc.). If you’re interested in this project, let us know!

Q&A with Sarah Rigdon

Q&A with Sarah RigdonSarah Rigdon is a former Delivery Lead for Code for DC, and she joined Open Houston a few months ago. We”re really happy that she”s here! Check out our Q&A with Sarah, and be sure to come by the civic hack night tonight to meet in person!

How did you first get involved in civic hacking?

My first hackathon was the Sanitation Hackathon, a Random Hacks of Kindness event held in December 2012 in Washington, DC. I was inspired by people with a range of different backgrounds and skill sets who devoted their weekend to hacking together solutions to real problems. It was fun, and it”s fun to see the looks on peoples” faces when I wear that event”s t-shirt.

In 2013, I was fortunate to join the Open Innovation Program at NASA, and helped launch the second annual International Space Apps Challenge. Space Apps is civic hacking on a global scale, from the Earth satellite data to the mass collaboration of over 9,000 volunteers that year, and yes, I”m biased, but everyone should be a part of it. It”s usually in April–mark your calendars. Sometimes astronauts show up.

These one-off events are inspiring and educational, and the solutions produced in even a weekend are impressive. But then, I started attending Code for DC last August, and I found a community. When you can keep coming back to a hack night every month or six weeks, you start seeing progress on longer-term projects and ways of thinking about problems in your area, and how those problems show up in other cities and what they”re doing about them. There”s a lot of magical civic geekery to that.

Code for DC has a pretty sophisticated civic hacking community. What are your impressions of Houston so far?

Code for DC has an important ingredient in common with Houston: passionate people who want to help their communities. If you have that, you”re golden, and I think every place does. It”s just a matter of connecting those people to the projects they casino online love.

The difference is it”s easy for civic hackers in DC to find each other and their overlapping interests in other Meetups, but in Houston, like many other things and just by nature of the city”s geography, all of those great sub-communities are spread out. But I”m looking forward to connecting with them.

What are some of your favorite projects that you”ve worked on?

ANC Finder is a way for DC residents to learn about their most local form of government, and a good model for civic hackers in other communities who want to build a resource-finder for their local communities.

Another project I loved working on is the TechLady Hackathon, one of the only all-women hackathons in the U.S. Houston ladies, if you”re interested we can definitely start one here, too.

What are the projects that you want to tackle next?

Houston is America”s fourth largest city, and most people drive themselves to work. I”m interested in anything related to addressing that problem.

And as one of the many newcomers to Houston who wants to get to know the city, I”d like to help with cultural discovery projects like the Mural Arts Program Strategy.

Anything else you”d like to add?

Let”s do it, Houstonians! Feel free to reach out with any questions or project ideas.

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