As more and more city-sponsored hackathons pop up around the country, those looking to hack for good are attempting to answer the question, what do cities need?
At New York City’s Reinvent Green Hackathon, the city took some of the guesswork out of it for hackers by providing an app wishlist.
The benefits of creating such a list are twofold: the city gains high-value apps at no-to-low cost; and civic hackers looking to contribute better understand where their time and resources will be most effective.
Compiled by several city agencies, New York City’s wishlist featured apps that departments would like to see come out of the hackathon, as well as the datasets that could be used to build them. Departments wished for apps in the categories of Energy, Climate Change, Food, Parks and Public Spaces, Transportation, and Water Supply.
Two of the five prizes at the contest --which ran June 30 to July 1-- went to teams that built off ideas on the wishlist.
The Judges Pick prize was awarded to the Green, Green, Greenest! app, which played off the call for an app that would allow individuals to see stats about a building and the surrounding neighborhood. The prize for Best App for Parks and Public Spaces went to FreshFixNYC, which built on a request for an app that provided a dynamic, searchable of New York City’s farmers market locations and hours.
“People definitely referenced the wishlist,” said Siena Chiang, a Policy Analyst in the NYC Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. The Office partnered with NYC Digital to host the hackathon.
Chiang offered a tip to cities looking to build their own wishlists for future hackathons.
“We realized post-hackathon that we need to find a way to align the wishlist with categories and prizes,” Chiang said. When these don’t align, hackers have to choose between creating an app the city wants and an app that could win a prize.
Read more about what the city wished for on Hacker League or check out the city’s press release on the event.