Hacking for Chicago’s Youth at the Adler Planetarium

Youth Hackathon at Adler Planetarium #hackforchange

For National Day of Civic Hacking, the Adler Planetarium hosted hackathon to encourage young people to get involved in civic hacking. The event teamed youth with mentors to help create web applications and info-graphics around issues facing youth. Mentors included representatives from a number of organizations including the University of Chicago, Chicago Architecture Foundation, Mikva Challenge, and the Adler Planetarium.

There were several projects that came out of the weekend which we’re featuring here.

The first team put together a site called Healthy Sex that lets youth learn more about sexual health by entering their gender and sexual orientation. The site also directs youths to free health resources near them.

The next project was one that addressed the issue of peer pressure. The site highlights positive aspects of one neighborhood to help combat negative stereotypes. The project’s concept also includes the ability to provide mentorship opportunities between alumni and current students.

The next project involved raising awareness around the challenges facing undocumented workers. The first was to create an info-graphic showing the scope of the problem. The next step was to create an application that let undocumented residents get more information on their eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Lastly, the project helps to facilitate communication to elected officials for the passage of the DREAM act.

The last project involved the issues of food deserts in Chicago. A food desert is an area where there is a lack of nutritional food choices. Using data sets from the City of Chicago, the team mapped out the locations of food deserts in the city in order to better understand how to provide access to fresh produce. The team also received a tour of the Fresh Moves bus; a converted CTA bus that acts as a mobile grocery store.

You can see more results from the Adler Youth Hackathon by visiting the Adler Planetarium website.

Connect Chicago Summer of Data

We’ve embarked on a new program– the Connect Chicago Summer of Data– and we need your help!

During the summer we’re sending out canvassers who will visit farmers’ markets, street fairs and other special events to make certain that everyone is are aware of Connect Chicago and the services offered at all of your locations. Please let us know if there are any particular events you’d like them to attend.

These teams will also visit all Connect Chicago locations to gather more information about each place so that we can keep the Connect Chicago website up to date. They’ll use the same form that location page admins can use when they sign up to be Connect Chicago admins.

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Moving Forward After National Day of Civic Hacking

Derek Eder teaching at Migrahack #hackforchange
National Day of Civic Hacking is over. It was a great event that brought web developers, journalists, designers, community activists, data gurus, and government officials together for a weekend civic hacking. Chicago was the most active city with 412 people taking part in events at Cibola, 1871, and the Adler Planetarium.
Youth Hackathon at Adler Planetarium #hackforchange
As a city, we should be proud of what’s we’ve accomplished. And not just for what happened during National Day of Civic Hacking, but proud of how far we’ve come since the days where the data portal only showed FOIA requests. We should celebrate these wins and in the coming days, we’ll be featuring these successes on the blog.
The City of Chicago's @ryanbriones talking about the idea for a civic needs app #hackforchange
However, it’s far more important to ensure that these efforts continue past this weekend. Civic issues are complicated, complex, and difficult to solve. It will take more than a single weekend to find solutions to these problems. As a community, we need to continue to connect civic technologists to community activists who are wrestling with civic issues on a daily basis. We must continue to outreach to every neighborhood in Chicago and ensure that the apps we build help the everyday Chicagoan and not just the geeks. While this weekend has been a fantastic weekend to organize around civic innovation there is still a lot of work to be done.
.@JazminBeltran learning data animation at @migrahack #hackforchange

We met a lot of people over the weekend: Journalists, scientists, community organizers, web developers and designers. We need to connect the dots and form new partnerships to help solve problems in our neighborhoods. We would love to stay in touch with everyone who participated in National Day of Civic Hacking. If that sounds good to you, please fill out this quick contact form so we can reach out to you about different projects.

On our end, the Smart Chicago Collaborative is offering the following to any and all participants of Chicago’s National Day of Civic Hacking.

1) We encourage everyone to continue their projects at the OpenGovChicago Hack Nights. They’e every Tuesday at 6:00pm inside 1871. The events are free and these nights are a great way to work on long term projects.

2) If you have a civic app that benefits the people of Chicago, you can get the app hosted on Smart Chicago Collaborative’s servers for free.

3) Smart Chicago will provide user testing to any Chicago civic app for free. Through the Civic User Testing Group, civic developers in Chicago have access to hundreds of testers to help test your app in order to improve it and make the best app possible.

4) We will help you tell your story. At the national level, the organizers are accepting submissions for stories about what came out of National Day of Civic Hacking. Teams with the best stories will be invited to The White House to be featured at an event in late July. If you need help writing your story, email cwhitaker(at) cct (dot) org and we’ll help you get your story ready. We’ll also help put together a short video to include with your submission.
Youth Hackathon at Adler Planetarium #hackforchange
It’s an exciting time to be involved in this movement. There are more and more cities getting involved in civic hacking thanks to the efforts of the Code for America brigade and through events like National Day of Civic Hacking. We’re looking forward to continuing this effort in the future.
National Day of Civic Hacking Chicago

Thank You

Smart Chicago Collaborative would like to thank all those that made this weekend possible:

Event locations: 1871, Cibola, and the Adler Planetarium.

Lead Organizations: Institute for Justice Journalism, The Adler Planetarium,  and  Code for America.

Event Sponsors and Partners: Azavea, Center for Evidence-Based MentoringChicago Architecture Foundation,  The Chicago Community Trust, the City of ChicagoFree Spirit MediaHive ChicagoKnight LabThe MacArthur Foundation,  Mikva Challenge, Rob Paral, and Open City Apps

Migrahack Projects

Chicago Migrahack  was held from May 31 – June 2, 2013 as a part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. I helped judge the hacktahon. Following is my take on the projects, including notes, screenshots, and images from the day. Here is a copy of the spreadsheet the organizers used to manage the projects, here’s the project page on the Migrahack website, and here’s a bunch of photos I took at the event.

The projects are listed in the order in which they were presented. The descriptions include any award the entry won and the commendation presented by the judges for any award.

Judging Migrahack


Recipes for Change
This was a concept for an app to help women build an underground support network. Domestic violence is a leading source of crime. It is under-reported, especially among those who are undocumented and/or are not native English speakers. They call it “recipes” and make it look like a normal recipe site. Dots on a map of women who can help them within a 5-mile radius.

Final Presentations at Migrahack

Finding Care
By the Los Almighty Windy City Data Hustlers team of Lucio Villa, David Eads, Maria Ines Zamudio, Yana Kunichoff, and Willberto Morales

“I’m being denied life”, says the homepage of this is explainer of stories surrounding the Affordable Care Act. They looked into PUMS data and pulled out some “By the numbers” stuff. All of this is driven by the Tarbell template as well as javascript and jquery.

Finding Care won “Best storytelling with data visualization”. Here’s the text of the commendation made by the judges on this entry:

Coherent, elegant narrative with lots of points of departure. Triggers questions for further research. Polished production in short time frame with simple, effective data visualization. Would love to see calls to action– links to advocacy groups, reporting on pending legislation, and so on.

Finding Care

Chicago MigraHack Web App
By Team DePaul (Paul Duszak, Temuulen Erdenekhuu, and Alex McCarten-Gibbs).

This team created a visualization of persons obtaining permanent resident status in the United States, broken down by region of origin. Mainly uses highcharts and other javascript. Allows the user to export all data.

Chicago MigraHack Web App won “2nd place data visualization team project”. Here’s the text of the commendation made by the judges on this entry:

Dead-simple visualization that takes a comprehensive look at a central dataset. Provides an understandable, useful, and portable tool for others to explore, understand, and share. Key insights into immigration.

Chicago MigraHack WebApp

Draw The Border and Naco or Naco?
By Dan Hill

This person made two related entries, both of which play on geographic perception and reality.

Draw the border! presents itself this way:  2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico divides border city pictured below. Can you draw the line that splits this city? Start clicking on the map to create the points to construct your border line and click “Done!” to see the real border in green and learn about the cities on each side.

Draw the border won “Best insight team project”. Here’s the text of the commendation made by the judges on this entry:

Fun, intuitive tool that engages the user and challenges assumptions. Simple presentation that takes an current meme (GeoGuesser) and adds an education element. Extra points for individual creativity, persistence, and execution. Sometimes collaboration is all about just showing up.

Draw the border!

Inspired by GeoGuesser,  Naco or Naco?  is a website that shows a satellite view of a place that contains the border between two cities and prompts the user to draw that border. Naco or Naco? shows Naco, a city that has a country as a border, and presents some basic demographic information as a clue.

Naco or Naco?

Early Childhood Resource Need App
By Team RANCH (Norbert Winklareth, Carlos McReynolds, Heather Gerberich, Adriana Cardona-Maguigad, and Rebecca Harris)

The Early Childhood Resource Need App is a map that shows neighborhoods in Chicago color-coded by their need for early childhood education seats, as calculated by the Illinois Facilities Fund, representing thousands of children unable to access preschool and child care programs.

MigraHack Team Ranch


Team Maginificent 7
Antonio Garcia III,  Adam Pearce, ​Cindy Agustin, and Irene Tostados

Three Alarm Data Fire
No presentation
Kenneth Watkins, Oz du Soleil, Sachi Shirasaka

Illinois in the ICE age
By Ice Breakers (Geoffrey Hing, Tara Tidwell Cullen, Ruth Lopez, Jimmie Glover)

The Illinois in the Ice Age website is a snapshot of a two-month period of ICE activity in Illinois and a look at the journey of 7 people.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Illinois detained 966 individuals during November and December of 2012. During those two months, 915 people also left ICE custody. Many of these individuals entered a detention facility earlier and one individual had been held for more than one year. Of those who left, 390 were deported and 38 agreed to their own removal.

ICE Breakers won the “Best data visualization team project”. Here’s the text of the commendation made by the judges on this entry:

A complex analysis in an original presentation. Deep journalism that is ripe for further analysis and exploration. Contains a clear call to action for others to continuing the work; connecting the dots.

Illinois in the ICE Age

Immigration Recalibration of Suburban America
By Dandelion Project (Lauren Pabst, Adriana Diaz, Antonio Oliva, Forrest Blount, Ravishankar Sivasubramaniam, Michael Drouet)

Immigration Recalibration of Suburban America focuses on  the demographic changes in Niles and Lisle Townships. Nile, for instance, is attractive to a growing number of immigrants from Asia and the Middle East. Lisle  has become increasingly Indian, Chinese and Mexican. The site offers maps, charts, and analyis of these trends.

Dandelion Diaspora

Team Hello World
Kevin, Vivek, Gaurav, Ankush, Manju Rupani

Team Hello World created a website that looked for statistical correlations between remittance and immigration. They show a map of remittances and allow the user to explore. They also show some findings.

Hello World (Exploring Remittances)


Hello World (Exploring Remittances)

Edie Rubinowitz, Adriana Gallardo, Brandon Huntz, Christopher Rudd & Fanny Sampson

This is an infographic story told on inogr.am that tells the story of children detained at the border.

Infographic  Ana Just Wants To Be Safe  Children Behind Bars   infogr.

Undocumented Immigrant Help Tool
This is a tool for people who are at high risk for deportation.

Final Presentations at Migrahack

Gentrification Study

Seeks to compare gentrification patterns in Pilsen and Bucktown.

Final Presentations at Migrahack