Code for America (CfA) convened the 8th Annual National Day of Civic Hacking on Saturday, September 12th.  Each year, the event brings together civic leaders, public servants, designers, coders, and engaged citizens to partner with local government and community groups to tackle some of our toughest challenges. The pandemic, wildfires, and upcoming election made this year’s event unlike any other. In the shadow of these daunting challenges, CfA’s new CEO Amanda Renteria kicked the event off at 9am by sharing her optimistic vision for the potential of civic tech. “This group, this day, this effort, is really a message to all public servants and the country - that we all can and want to be part of this unique American experience. That we, the collective we, are creating a government by, of, and for the people. And the way we do that is together.

An all-star, all-female panel then shared their perspectives on our strained social safety net and described the collective actions that had been scoped for local Brigades to work on:

You can check out the video from the morning’s keynote session. The work products produced by the Brigade Network will inform the actions of communities around the country. The data collected from the day’s activity will help CfA identify opportunities to increase the Network’s collective impact.

Northwest Project Workday: 117 Skilled Volunteers Move the Needle on 16 Tech-for-Good Projects

At 10am our Northwest Project Workday kicked off.  The event was a collaboration between Open Seattle, Code for PDX, and Open Eugene – three CfA Brigades in the Pacific Northwest. It was also the thirteenth bi-monthly hackathon that DemocracyLab has convened since our launch in September 2018, a cadence that nurtured the growth of our tech-for-good community.

After 15 minutes of introduction and orientation, the project pitches got underway. Each project had 1 slide and up to 90 seconds and to present their proposed scope of work for the hackathon. Projects addressed a wide variety of issues including pandemic response, wildfire refuge, environmental conservation, transportation, housing, and food insecurity.

After the pitches, participants sorted themselves into team rooms, worked through the day, then presented their work products at 5pm. Of the 20 teams that pitched their projects in the morning, 16 reported their accomplishments during the closing presentations. Below are links to videos for each project that made it to the finish line:

  • A/B Street: A/B Street is a game simulating pedestrians, bikes, cars, and buses in Seattle. Players edit lanes and intersections to improve traffic flow.
  • Banana App: Location-based food donation app system.
  • DemocracyLab: Empowering people who use technology to advance the public good by connecting skilled volunteers to tech-for-good projects.
  • Dwellingly is an app to improve communication between the landlord providing transitional housing and the social workers who support them.
  • Fire Refuge: Oregon Fires response project to help evacuees find temporary overnight lodging.
  • Infoncast:The digital divide is real despite tremendous progress. Join us build the last mile of media frontier by reaching everyone on the planet.
  • iSeaTree: iSeaTree is a game-play app that helps kids learn, identify, and record trees in King Co. WA! Works with USFS iTree CO2 calculator.
  • Little Help Book: Resource discovery for undeserved populations.
  • Nonprofit Exchange Hub: A hub for the exchange of goods, information and connections for nonprofits of all sizes.
  • Open Communities: We are a grassroots fair housing and housing justice agency working for inclusive and equitable communities free from discrimination.
  • Open Sidewalks: OpenSidewalks collects open (pedestrian + accessibility) data, but needs help coordinating volunteers: who edited what and when?
  • Orcasound: Open source web-app (at ) that lets users listen for whales and act to conserve them.
  • PPE Match: Help provide front-line healthcare workers with the right amount of the right equipment at the right time.
  • ShelterApp/Strappd: Shelter App, Inc. is an All-volunteer Non-Profit Organization whose mission is to help Homeless and low-income families connect to services.
  • Snowpool: Snowpool is a rideshare platform to connect skiers/snowboarders to encourage carpooling to local (WA) ski resorts.
  • WA Conviction Vacation Project: Reducing barriers faced by formerly incarcerated individuals by streamlining the process of vacating eligible convictions in Washington

More information on each of these projects can be found on our National Day of Civic Hacking event page. We’d like to sincerely thank all 117 volunteers and project leaders who made the event a success, our sponsors Microsoft, Amazon, and All of Us Research, as well as our community partners WTIA, Sea.Citi, 501 Commons, Seattle Tech4Good, AIGA Seattle, and the Seattle Community Technology Advisory Board.

We’d also like to give a shout out to our friends Open Twin Cities, Techquity, and Software for Good who we helped convene Code Switch, a National Day of Civic Hacking event centered on Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Next Up

Our next tech-for-good collaboration is the Covid & Equity series being convened by Tyler Technologies and the National League of Cities. The series kicks off with a Civic Mixer on October 1st, delves into design thinking at a Protothon on October 9th – 10th, and culminates in a hackathon on October 23rd – 25th. Work products from the series will be presented at the National League of Cities Summit November 16th – 18th.

Hack To Give Thanks is scheduled for November 21st. It will be the fourteenth event in our cadence-setting series of tech-for-good hackathons. We’ve penciled in Hacky New Year for January 9th, 2021.

About DemocracyLab

DemocracyLab is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to empower people who use technology to advance the public good. We are headquartered in Seattle, Washington, USA.

DemocracyLab earns income to support our programs by offering tech-for-good employee engagement programs and corporate sponsorship opportunities. Please contact us to learn more.