Civic Hacking Comes to iOSDevCamp

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This year will be the 9th annual iOSDevCamp held in San Jose, California, and we are adding something new. We are adding a Civic Hacking track, so you can easily find other like-minded people who want to work on apps for good. Look for anyone wearing a blue bracelet, and get your own at the registration table. Here are some project ideas to get your juices flowing:

  • An app to help you prepare for Election Day
  • Scheduling app for community garden work/volunteer days
  • Reporting blight on public and/or private property
  • Where and how to submit comments on rules, regulations, legislation, etc.
  • A watch app that buzzes whenever you get within 100 feet of (your favorite city service)
  • Locate healthy food businesses

iOSDevCamp is a three day hackathon where hundreds of the best developers come together to collaborate. The three days include keynote speakers, presentations, networking opportunities, and building your project team. The event concludes with awards and prizes to recognize and celebrate the contributions of attendees over the three days. iOSDevCamp is open to everyone, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned engineer, designer, project manager, writer, etc. Registration is still open and will continue to be available until Friday July 10.

What is Civic Hacking?

The last few years have seen an explosion of weekly civic hacking gatherings all over America. Civic Hackers are people who are convinced that citizens can improve how something works in our public spaces. Instead of thinking about government officials as “them,”  civic hackers look for ways to partner with employees of local, state and federal governments, as well as other engaged citizens. Refreshingly, I don’t see a lot of political ideology at civic hacking events. Instead, there is a focus on making government (or government services) easier to interact with, easier to understand, faster, or more transparent.

Why is Civic Hacking important to the world?

I spent far too many years of my life angry at public services that didn’t work the way I thought they should, or at public officials that had “wronged” me by making me wait too long in line. But as I learn more about the challenges of running large organizations (i.e., governments), limited public funding, and how hard it is to make technology that does what we want it to, I have a different perspective. Maybe people in government have the same frustrations I had? Maybe they want to provide better services, or maybe they hate the same problems? Maybe I can help by bringing my unique skills to civic life?

Why Should I be a Civic hacker?

  • Develop your job skills. At every civic hackathon I have been to, there is a culture of teammates teaching each other. All of us love tech, and everyone has something to learn and something to teach.
  • Learn about better technologies, tools or frameworks. There is a natural excitement about sharing the latest and greatest ways of getting our work done faster.
  • Improve the world. The next “Best Recipe App” may be fun to build, but may not have the kind of lasting value that a civic app will have.
  • Meet cool people. Your vision for a better tomorrow may be different than my vision, but I have found that anyone passionate about improving society is an interesting person who is worth getting to know.
  • Find your purpose. Wrestling with the question “What is the meaning of life?” is so much more productive when done with other people who have heart. Everyone has so much to contribute, and it’s not always easy to see this in yourself until you team up with others who are able to acknowledge your skills.
  • Get free food, drinks and swag. There, I said it.

Getting Involved After iOSDevCamp

If you enjoy the Civic Hacking track at iOSDevCamp and want to get more involved, Code for America has more than 5,000 people involved in Brigades across the world, many with weekly events:

Want to suggest other places where civic hackers gather? Please add them to the comments below.