On July 10, 2021, DemocracyLab collaborated with Code for America Brigade Network for its Summer Create-a-thon. Ten projects came together with over 60 volunteers to make progress building tech-for-good. There was a diverse mix of causes that benefited, including environmental conservation, civic infrastructure, education, and social services. Each project lead set progress goals and worked with its volunteers to advance their technologies.

Who participated

Volunteers joined in from around the world to contribute their talents and skills to help our participating projects make critical developments. Both first-time volunteers and veterans were drawn by the opportunity to practice or learn new skills in coding, design, research, and project management while addressing concrete civic issues.

By the end of the day our participants felt like they’d made substantial progress toward the goals they’d set, and many volunteers intended to continue contributing to the project they’d worked with that day.

What was accomplished

Project leads came with a variety of tasks and goals. Many projects worked on building new prototypes and developing or expanding new versions of apps, websites, and tools. Volunteers had the opportunity to work in UX design, data analysis, content development, and both frontend and backend development. Some key achievements included building app prototypes, developing or expanding new versions of apps, website development, and onboarding new team members.

Here’s a list of the projects:

  1. A/B Street–software that runs traffic simulations to find ways to make cities less reliant on cars–worked on drafting new blog posts for recent proposals for local road changes.
  2. Accessibility Ratings–a crowdsourced app that helps users ensure they adopt accessible applications–worked on building prototypes for some newly completed designs using search services and parsing metadata in app stores.
  3. CouncilDataProject–an app providing users a way to follow local municipality council activities–worked to expand their coverage to new cities for version 3 launch, including backend web scraping and frontend UX design.
  4. EnCiv (Unpoll)–software crowdsourcing political debate questions–worked to create the React components for their Figma prototype.
  5. iSeaTree–a citizen science game-play app that lets users ID trees while contributing to the database–worked on selecting new data for their new CO2 and Hydrologics calculator feature. Volunteers reviewed over 300 tree images and tested the new version of the iSeaTree platform.
  6. Nonprofit Exchange Hub–an app that helps nonprofits locate and exchange info and goods–made progress in the development of their prototype while refining wireframes for the next batch of development.
  7. Orcasound–a website where citizen scientists can study audio recordings of Orcas and help to conserve them–developed a prototype app replicating the website experience.
  8. Project Lockdown–an interactive platform providing an overview of the state of human and digital rights around the world–continued development on the MAP and API 2.0 versions, parsing the database and building new API models.
  9. ShelterApp–a program that connects outreach workers to homeless encampments and offers real-time supply inventory tracking–worked on designing and developing a new Outreach Tracker app.
  10. Turn the Bus–an app providing educational resources to high school students in underdeveloped parts of India–designed prototypes of a flashcard-style learning workflow, building a backend question database and moving the project closer to their Android launch.

What did our participants think?

Volunteering at a DemocracyLab event offers an opportunity to contribute to areas of interest and provides great career-building experiences. All participants found a project with a mission that they're passionate about; both volunteers and project leaders enjoyed the event and found it rewarding. Volunteers had the opportunity to learn by doing while contributing to tech-for-good projects impacting real issues they care about. Project leads saw tangible development and moved their technologies forward towards longer-term goals.

Survey results:

  • 85% strongly agreed the experience was excellent
  • 70% strongly agreed the quality of projects was excellent
  • 70% strongly agreed they were satisfied with their team’s output at the end
  • 85% strongly agreed they intend to continue working on the project
  • 70% said they gained new experience that will benefit them

Learn more about getting involved

For more information about how you can participate in our next tech-for-good event please visit our events page.

To explore our list of projects with ongoing volunteer opportunities check out our website.

DemocracyLab is a volunteer-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in Seattle, WA.