Hack for Change

Poster_hack-for-changeOn June 6, 2015, thousands of people from across the United States will come together for National Day of Civic Hacking. The event will bring together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers, community organizers and anyone with the passion to make their city better. They will collaboratively build new solutions using publicly-released data, technology, and design processes to improve our communities and the governments that serve them. Anyone can participate; you don’t have to be an expert in technology, you just have to care about your neighborhood and community.

Smart Chicago has been supporting National Day of Civic Hacking since the start. The first year helping to organize multiple events in Chicago. Last year, Smart Chicago also started to write training blogs for the hackforchange.org website. We’re continuing the tradition this year with our longtime partner Code for America with providing additional training material.

As a city, Chicago is hosting multiple events all this week including our very own Organize! Training for new civic technology leaders. Below, we’ve broken down the list of events, training posts, subject primers, and who you should be following as the week kicks off.

Civic Tech Events in Chicago

CitySDK Launch at Chi Hack Night 

Hosted by Chi Hack Night – Braintree 6/2 – 6:00pm 

The Census Bureau has developed an open data software development kit (SDK)to enable a community, public, or private sector individuals and organizations to more easily extract value from Census data through user-friendly Application Program Interfaces (APIs). Through the SDK we are aiming to provide a user friendly “Toolbox” for civic hackers to connect local and national public data in order to bring forth innovative solutions for our communities. This national effort is being done to time with National Day of Civic Hacking.

The Census Bureau plans to launch the CitySDK on June 1st and present theCitySDK at the Chi Hack Night on June 2nd.

The Chi Hack Night (formerly known as the Open Gov Hack Night) is a free, weekly event in Chicago to build, share and learn about civic tech, or tools to create, support, or serve public good. It’s one of the largest weekly gatherings of civic innovators and takes place every Tuesday on the 8th floor of Merchandise Mart.

Code for America Fellowship Info Session

Hosted by Code for America at DevBootcamp  – 6/3 6:00-7:30pm 

Applications for the 2016 Code for America Fellowship are now open and due July 15, 2015. If you’re thinking about applying, but have questions, or you just want to find out more about the program, then this info session is for you.

Urban Sustainability Apps Competition 

Hosted by the Center for Neighborhood Technology – 6/5 -6:00pm

The Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) invites you to make Chicago’s neighborhoods smarter, greener, and more affordable at the 4th Annual Urban Sustainability Apps Competition.
Over the course of the event, community activists and app developers will work together to create workable prototypes of apps that make our neighborhoods more sustainable, both environmentally and economically.

We welcome participants from all corners of the city, whether you’re a local activist working to improve your neighborhood or a coding whiz looking to make a difference in the community.

Organize! Civic Tech Leader Training

Hosted by the Smart Chicago Collaborative – Blue1647 – 8:30am 6/6

For National Day of Civic Hacking, Smart Chicago will be hosting Civic Tech Leader Training to help leverage the power of technology to organize in their neighborhoods. The event will be held at Blue1647 on June 6th, 2015 and is designed to help train new civic tech leaders. We’ll be providing resource and training guides before the event.

Training will include FOIA training by the Better Government Association,community organizing training from the Southwest Organizing Project,Microsoft Excel training from Microsoft’s Adam Hecktman, data portal training by Josh Kalov, and more.

Adler National Day of Civic Hacking

Hosted by the Adler Planetarium – 9:00am 6/6 – 6/7

All Hack Days need problems to solve and those problems need domain experts – that’s where you come it! Civic Hack Day, as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking, focuses on issues to improve our communities. As the problem owner you’ll give a two minute pitch at the beginning of Civic Hack Day to attract hackers interested in creating a technology-based solution to your problem.

Need some inspiration? Check out some of the projects from Civic Hack Day 2014. We also encourage you to share your ideas before the event on the Civic Hack Day Ideas Hackpad.

Civic Hack Day will kick off bright and early at 9:00 am on Saturday June 6th. and will finish at 12:00pm on Sunday June 7th. Problem Owners and Hackers are invited to spend the night at the Adler to hack the night away. You’ll be provided with plenty of food and caffeine to keep the momentum going! If you prefer sleep to hacking you can always go home and return on Sunday morning for the event wrap-up, project demos, and prizes.


Hosted by Michigan State University and OpenLegal – We Work Chicago – 6/6 – 6/7

Teams of lawyers, developers, designers, and other professionals will work together to develop software-based tools to solve legal problems over the weekend and compete for cash prizes.
Software is eating the legal industry. Join the hackathon accelerating the advancement of the legal industry.

Training Guides

Social Media Accounts to follow

  • @CodeforAmerica – Operation Partner for National Day of Civic Hacking
  • @ChiHackNight – Chi Hack Night will be hosting the US Census for the launch of CitySDK
  • @CivicWhitaker – Our consultant will be running our Organize! Civic Tech Leader Training
  • @CNT_Tweets – CNT will be hosting the Urban Sustainability Apps Challenge this weekend
  • @AdlerHacks – Hosting a general hackathon at the planetarium
  • @Shedd_aquarium – Hosting a hackathon focusing on fisheries
  •  @DJ44 – The US Chief Data Officer
  • @ChicagoCDO – Tom Schenk Jr, CDO of Chicago
  • @fishathon – Nationwide hackathon focusing on sustainable fishing