Last month, we held the annual Houston Hackathon where hundreds of civic tech and data nerds collaborated on projects to see what they can do over the course of a weekend.
When we started this event seven years ago, hackathons were relatively new. Since then, hackathons have become associated with swag, sleeping bags, and caffeine.
We do things a little differently. Our hackathon is not a cutthroat competition. We want people to learn new things and share their knowledge with one another. We try to create a supportive environment that rewards curiosity, hard work, and different kinds of skills – not just programming.
As a result, we attract some of the smartest, nicest, and most creative people I’ve ever met.
This year, we gathered at The Cannon Houston and worked on projects that aim to make Houston a better place to live.
The winners included:
- GAPS. An algorithm to determine the optimal locations of polling places, using Waller County as the case study. Waller County is currently involved in a lawsuit alleging that the county disenfranchised Prairie View A&M students. Nile Dixon brought five ideas to the hackathon, and ended up seeing this one through to the end. GAPS can be used by any jurisdiction that wants to optimize polling place locations.
- CASN. An app to connect people who can provide transportation with people who have medical appointments, and specifically abortion appointments. This logistics-focused application builds upon what CASN already does by hand,
- Vision Zero. This was a series of projects about Vision Zero, an international movement to end all traffic deaths. My favorite of their projects was how they merged multiple datasets to determine the characteristics of Houston’s deadly intersections, and how future design of intersections could prevent death.
The winning teams will present their work to the Mayor of Houston later this month. You can browse all of the projects on the hackathon devpost site.