Next Friday and Saturday, a mix of programmers and entrepreneurs—partnered with City officials and armed with an ever-broadening array of government data—will come together to develop computer applications designed to improve the day-to-day lives of Honolulu residents.
The “Hackathon” is a free event that is open to anyone with an idea or an interest in contributing to tools that can better connect citizens with government information and services. Whether focused on traffic, trash pickup, community events or neighborhood statistics, the possibilities are endless. And cash prizes, provided by event sponsors, will be awarded to the teams that develop the most innovative and useful apps.
The Hackathon builds upon the successful CityCamp held last month, which drew over 150 people to a number of brainstorming sessions at the University of Hawaii that explored how technology could both solve problems and create opportunities in Honolulu.
Modeled after successful civic hackathons staged in other cities, this first Honolulu competition emphasizes both creativity and agility. Teams will have 24 hours to quickly design and develop a working prototype of their applications, which means that several useful tools will have progressed from idea to reality by Saturday afternoon.
Going forward, the hope is that these apps will be made available to the public. A successful Hackathon will both enhance the lives of regular citizens, and also fuel opportunities for Honolulu’s burgeoning tech community.
The City has been working to make more of its massive datasets freely available, via the web and via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Just last week, a “GIS Guide for Honolulu Hackers” was published to accompany newly published Geographic Information System (GIS) map data, just in time for the Hackathon.
These efforts complement this year’s Code For America engagement, in which notable leaders in technology and e-democracy will spend time in Honolulu to help governments work better for everyone. Honolulu is one of eight cities that will host Code for America Fellows in 2012.