Hacking a Better Pittsburgh – The National Day of Civic Hacking is Saturday

I am WAY late writing a blog post about the National Day of Civic Hacking, which is tomorrow, Saturday, May 31.  But I want to make sure you know about all of the great stuff that is happening in Pittsburgh around civic hacking.

Pittsburgh Event for the National Day of Civic Hacking

national-day-civic-hackingOpenPittsburgh Open House

Agenda for the Pittsburgh National Day of Civic Hacking Event:

  • 10 am: Coffee, Donuts and Introductions
  • 10:20 am Welcome and agenda overview (Bob Gradeck, Open Pittsburgh, UCSUR)
  • 10:30 am Why is the Library involved? (Toby Greenwalt, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh)
  • 10:45 am Neighborhood welcome, (Jerome Jackson, Operation Better Block)
  • 11: 00 am Project work – U.S. Open Data Census, Property Survey Training / data collection, and more!
  • (Lunches available 11:45am – 12:45 pm)
  • 1:30 Mayor Bill Peduto – Pittsburgh Data Forum Q&A
  • 2:30-3 (or when the Mayor is finished) Wrap-up

Loving Pittsburgh & Civic Hacking

What is civic hacking and why I think it is the future of Pittsburgh.  Civic hacking is a bunch of citiuzens who want to make their communities better by bringing technology and data together.  In some ways this blog was started as a way to hack the image of Pittsburgh.

I attended the National Day of Civic Hacking here in Pittsburgh last summer (you can read a recap of the 2013 Pittsburgh National Day of Civic Hacking event here) and I’ve been attending the now monthly meetups for the OpenPGH group.  The civic hackers in Pittsburgh are coming up with some incredible ideas and solutions for things happening in the city of Pittsburgh (and the country).

So much has happened in the past year and there has been a ton of momentum around open data in Pittsburgh.  A few highlights include:

open-pgh-logoLinks Civic Hacking and Open Data in Pittsburgh

OpenPGH – Code for America – Pittsburgh Brigade

I have been meaning to write a post about the last Code for America Pittsburgh Brigade Meetup which was held at the Studio for Creative Inquiry in February.  But is has been a busy month – I promise I will write more about my experience attending the StartingBloc fellowship in Los Angeles at the beginning of march.  I have lots of ideas to share.

At the February meetup the group decided to call the Code for America Pittsburgh chapter (other cities use the term brigade – so you will often see Pittsburgh bridgade) OpenPGH.

The February OpenPGH MeetUp is one of the best events I’ve attended this year.  It was great to see so many folks from many different areas of Pittsburgh come together to talk about how we can use data to make Pittsburgh a better place to live.  Connor Sites-Bowen was one of the presenters and shared some fascinating data and maps about hunger in Western, PA.  I feel like IheartPGH has been hacking together a story of Pittsburgh and it was exciting to brain storm with other people on how to use websites and apps to hack a better city.  I left the February MeetUp and said to a friend – what sort of job will pay me to be a full time civic hacker. [If anyone has any ideas on who might hire me as a civic hacker – please let me know. :)]

English: Code for America Logo

What is Code for America?

From the Code for America about page:

Code for America is a 501(c)3 non-profit that envisions a government by the people, for the people, that works in the 21st century.

Our programs change how we participate in government by:

  • Connecting citizens and governments to design better services,
  • Encouraging low-risk settings for innovation; and,
  • Supporting a competitive civic tech marketplace.

Bringing Code for America to Pittsburgh

There are several ways that Pittsburgh has been working towards more open data and civic hacking in the past year.

  • Last summer, Pittsburgh along with many other cities participated in the national day of civic hacking.
  • Mayor Bill Peduto has hired Laura Meixell, a Code for America fellow to work in his office.  You can read more about Laura and the projects she’s started working on here.
  • Pittsburgh has passed an open data policy.  Check out this blog post from the Sunlight Foundation for details on how Pittsburgh’s open data policy is different from other cities.

OpenPGH March MeetUp

open-pgh-logoWednesday, March 26th is the next meetup for OpenPGH.  The OpenPGH group meets every month at a different location.

Facebook event for the OpenPGH March MeetUp

Agenda for March MeetUp:

  1. Welcome and introductions 5 minutes
  2. Host’s welcome / presentation (Kostas Pelechrinis, Pitt Information Sciences) 10-15 minutes
  3. Quick updates (City legislation, state advocacy) 5 minutes
  4. Allegheny County GIS (Matt Mercurio, GIS manager) 15-20 minutes
  5. County election data – (Brady Hunsaker) 10-15 minutes
  6. Visual survey toolkit demo using LocalData (GTECH) 10-15 minutes
  7. Participant survey results 5 minutes
  8. Project ideas / open discussion / “planning party” ideas

OpenPGH and Open Data Links & Resources

Website Links:

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