Spending a beautiful sunny Saturday inside the Broad Ripple Speakeasy with no windows for several hours would not seem the ideal choice, but this is exactly what Scott Moshier and I chose to do for the Indy Chamber’s first “Civic Hackathon.” Sporting our netlogx green shirts, we helped pair up individuals with teams to tackle government service challenges.

The purpose was for citizen developers to volunteer their time to solve government problems by using data provided by public agencies. This event was part of a global outreach of the same format being held in cities all around the world.  http://hackforchange.org/


Open Data advocate Congresswoman Susan Brooks (District 5) was on site to thank participants for their service.  She is co-sponsoring a bill to put computer science back in schools as a priority as well as helping more young women pursue jobs in information technology.

Also on site was Paul Baltzell – the State of Indiana’s Chief Information Officer.

For Indianapolis, several “challenges” were presented and related data sets provided.  Most critical was concerning “trash” collection.

Last year, the Mayor’s Action Committee (MAC) handled over 176,000 calls: 57,000 requests for service and 43,000 requests for information for trash collection alone.

Their goal in this challenge was to create a way to reduce cost, improve customer service, and reallocate resources in a more effective and efficient way.

The winner of the “trash challenge” was John Ford from Independent Development Solutions.  His submission: IVR phone solution/self-service tool and an Opt-in text message/email notification, solving 20k trash info calls.

The overall winner of the main event for a $1500 prize tackled the problem of “pot hole” reporting.  The team of Michael Hockerman, David Tschida, Ben Wencke, and Michael Price created an android application and heroku backend to allow users to submit pothole locations, then track the city’s progress in fixing those potholes.

The creative energy in the room was infectious.  Scott and I were amazed at the collaboration of a group of intelligent volunteers dedicating their day to solving government problems.  What a fantastic way to get people involved.

The growing trend of government organizations to open their data has had tremendous results in time/resource management and cost savings as well as developing solid analytics to make smart planning decisions for the future.

Scott and I were so encouraged by the endless possibilities such activities could yield for us as citizens.  We were honored to represent netlogx in not only the spirit of volunteerism and local support, but in learning of all the great progress having government utilize technology in an economical way to operate BETTER. FASTER. CHEAPER. – the core philosophy and focus of our company!

For more information on this massive movement, check out: