Last week at Chicago’s OpenGov Hack Night

People at their laptops working on different civic innovation projects

A full house at last week’s OpenGov Hack Night

This is a new weekly feature that will highlight what’s happening at the Chicago OpenGov Hack Night. The Chicago OpenGov Hack Nights are weekly events where technologists and community members come together to work with open data and build tools that improve the civic experience. The events, run by Derek Eder and Juan-Pablo Velez, are held at 6:00 pm each Tuesday at 1871. As a founding member of 1871, the Smart Chicago Collaborative is proud to be able to provide space for this each week. 

At today’s OpenGov Hack Night, we’re pleased to welcome Amy Guterman from GravityTank. Amy will be talking about their project to help resign how the Veterans Affairs administration displays health records. The design recently won the White House Health Design Challenge!  If you’d like to come check out the hack night, then you can RSVP here

Knight News Challenge: OpenGov Edition

Smart Chicago Collaborative Dan O’Neil spoke about the Knight News Challenge. The Knight Foundation News Challenge is a contest that will award $5 million dollars to different projects that help make public information more relevant and useful. Anyone can enter the challenge including governments, non-profits, and citizens.

The next Chicago OpenGov Meeting will feature Knight Foundation News Innovation director John Bracken who will be discussing the challenge. Because of high interest in the event, Smart Chicago will be live streaming the talks as well.

Project of the Week: Vagrant

The process of getting certain web development tools like PostGIS can take hours of painstaking frustrating work. Because every person’s machine is set up slightly differently, the installation of some tools is far more random than installing a normal application on your computer.

With Vagrant, you can download a virtual machine to your computer that is already pre-installed with the tools that you need. This virtual machine lives on your own computer and lets you start hacking immediately instead of spending hours installing the tool.

Here locally, Young-Jin Kim and Emily Rosengren are working on getting Vagrant to support PostGIS. Anyone interested in helping with the project is encouraged to check out the repository on GitHub or attend a Hack Night.

Dataset of the Week: Food Inspection Data

Tom Schenk talks about food inspection data

Tom Schenk talks about food inspection data

Tom Schenk, Chief of Analytics for the City of Chicago, is a regular attendee of the OpenGov Hack Night. Each week he’ll be featuring a different data set on Chicago’s data portal.

This week’s data set is all about food inspection data. The city has made the comments that food inspectors make about the restaurants they inspect parsable. This means that apps can now draw out the different comments automatically. This is also one of the steps necessary to get Chicago’s food inspection data in the LIVES standard. This standard will enable food inspection data to be imported into the popular review site Yelp.   Tom and other civic developers will be working to get Chicago’s data into the LIVES standard at next week’s hack night.

Anyone interested in civic innovation, open government, and civic web apps is encouraged to come to one of our hack nights. Each week, we conduct a Civic Hacking 101 class to help orient people into the world of civic innovation. People who are trying to solve problems in their community are particularly encouraged to come regardless of their technical skills.