Indy Civic Tech’s Tipping Point

“You want to do what with our data??”

I remember the perplexed responses we received while organizing the inaugural Indy Civic Hack Day in May of 2014. To be fair, it was really the first time anyone had approached municipal and state agencies asking them to provide data in open format.  After a lot of explaining, some coaxing, and a little bit of scraping, we were able to cobble together enough data sets to have something to work with.

It sure wasn’t pretty but it was the start of Indy’s civic tech movement.

Fast forward to February 2016 and it’s somewhat astounding how far we’ve come in less than two years. Just look at the next three weeks where two civic hacks will give participants the opportunity to engage newly released state and municipal data sets, create solutions that can profoundly impact our community, and provide direct feedback to elected officials and key government decision makers.

What makes these two events particularly important? Indy’s civic tech community is at a true tipping point. Interest by the public sector in civic tech has never been higher and the stage for civic hacking has never been bigger. A strong show of support by Indy’s tech community continues the momentum and creates larger opportunities in the future. And if Indy’s best technologists stay at home? Well, this party could be over just as it’s getting started. It’s critical that our technology community makes the most of the opportunity.

A closer look at the two events:

Hack and Pitch Night
Thursday, February 11th – 6pm – Speak Easy
Cost: FREE

Late last year Indy rolled out one of the country’s first regional open data portals to a lot of fanfare. In the three months of its existence, has generated much activity, analysis, feedback on how to improve the existing data, and suggestions for additional data sets. Unfortunately, the new portal has lacked the human infrastructure around it to successfully capture the activity and aggregate citizen input. Enter the Open Indy Brigade’s Hack & Pitch Night. The two-hour event this coming Thursday at the Speak Easy will give technologists the opportunity to hear directly from content experts, explore the data, pitch their work, and make recommendations on how to improve the portal in the future.

Friday, February 26th – 6pm – Indiana Statehouse
Saturday, February 27th – 8am – Indiana Government Center
Cost: FREE

Have you ever tried to follow a bill working its way through the Indiana General Assembly? Unless you like hanging out in the hallways of the State House, understanding the status of a bill or where it’s headed can be confusing to most Hoosiers. The Indy Chamber’s #INCapitolHack is here to help. Using a newly released API from the Legislative Services Agency, teams will have the opportunity to create a solution to help constituents track legislation, communicate with legislators, and impact the process. And with the hack taking place in the State House and Government Center, the close proximity to all the action is the best opportunity yet for Indy’s civic tech community to shine in front of key elected officials.