Posted by: Ann Treacy | February 23, 2014

Capitol Code: Open Data Jam, notes from the day

Today I attended the Capital Code event – an open data jam. It was sponsored by the Secretary of State, among other groups. The idea was to make datasets available, create an environment that inspires innovation and get civic-minded coders and tech-loving folks together to create apps (website, mobile apps, other tools) to turn the datasets into information citizens and residents can use.

Here’s a quick overview of the day:

  • Breakfast where folks can mingle
  • Introduction and inspiring speeches (brief) from tech dignitaries
  • Attendees suggest projects to work on
  • Attendees vote with their feet on which projects interest them
  • Strangers, colleagues and friends work on projects for 4 hours (lunch and snacks are served)
  • Teams present their projects

It’s very free flow. There’s a lot of strolling around and talking to people who are working on cool projects both that day and in their 9-5 lives. It’s low tech crowdsourcing of ideas and innovation. It’s fantastic to see the folks that will come in for a day to work on projects. Some folks are very focused on a specific need or solution. Some folks are just looking to be helpful for the day. Some folks join thinking they are just going to observe – but here’s the key – in this land of coders non-coding skills are highly valued too.

Here are the Tweets I used to describe each project – just to give a broad overview of the work done:

  1. Project: create an easy way to register for a BWCA trip online using GIS data #capitolcode
  2. Project: mapping datasets to understand bio geography and encourage an interest in local foods – persuasive visualization! #capitolcodethetrojanhorseradish.com/ 
  3. Project: voter reg info w/census info – mashup communities w/low voter reg who might fit the demographic you want to register #capitolcode
  4. Project: promote & support people of color in business in Minnesota http://pocmn.wordpress.com/  #capitolcode
  5. Project: Civic Social Media Finder: map legislators who are using social media. FB harder to track than Twitter & more active #capitolcode
  6. Project: voter engagement MyCiv: tells you if you’re registered, your poll, your elected officials… #capitolcode
  7. Project: How to integrate with Minnesota API store – create readymade template to help non-techies use data #capitolcode
  8. Project: public data ecosystem – create a state of Minnesota API store; one-stop-shop for open data #capitolcode
  9. Project: track voter wait time via app to help voters know best times to head to polls. Good view for admin to track trends #capitolcode
  10. Project: Immigration to Minnesota data, mapped data from 1990 to 2010, how populations have shifted through the years #capitolcode

A fantastic idea to spur civic apps, to develop valuable relationships to encourage more people to think about how datasets can make life better. It’s part of why I’m excited to be a part of the upcoming Red Hot Hack IN Red Wing at the end of April.


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