Mar 14 2013

Civic Hacking Day: Improving Citizen Engagement One Line of Code at a Time

White House announces Civic Hacking Day for summer 2013.

The White House has announced the first ever National Day of Civic Hacking. After the incredible success of initiatives like Code for America, the federal government is wise to leverage crowdsourced thinking, coding and motivation to help solve some of the government’s most important challenges. Using citizens to connect with other citizens is a proven model. The federal government has attempted to recruit hackers in the past, going as far as soliciting applications at the notorious hacker conference Def Con. Rather than petitioning for hackers to fight with the government instead of against it, agencies and local municipalities are hoping to identify and solve problems with civic engagement. For advocates of open government and data, this is an important step in the direction of greater transparency in government:

Civic Hacking Day is an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans. While civic hacking communities have long worked to improve our country and the world, this summer will mark the first time local developers from across the Nation unite around the shared mission of addressing and solving challenges relevant to OUR blocks, OUR neighborhoods, OUR cities, OUR states, and OUR country.

Read Roll Up Your Sleeves, Get Involved, and Get Civic-Hacking.

Questions About Hacking Answered

Several government agencies are on-board, including NASA, the Census Bureau and the Labor Department. Other agencies and local governments are encouraged to provide open data or code for hackers to work on. A website,, has been created to provide information to anyone interested, but here are a few answers to important questions surrounding the event.

What is National Day of Civic Hacking?

National Day of Civic Hacking is an event during which citizens from around the country will work together with local, state and federal governments as well as private sector organizations with the common goal of improving their community.

What is a civic hacker?

"Civic hackers" as we think about it for the National Day of Civic Hacking are engineers, technologists, civil servants, scientists, designers, artists, educators, students, entrepreneurs – anybody – who is willing to collaborate with others to create, build, and invent open source solutions using publicly-released data, code and technology to solve challenges relevant to our neighborhoods, our cities, our states and our country.

Some people have a negative association with "hacking", how do you clarify the difference to them?

To us, a hacker is someone who uses a minimum of resources and a maximum of brainpower and ingenuity to create, enhance or fix something. Although in some circumstances it is used in a negative sense, the term is not inherently negative, nor does it even have to be related to technology.

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