Code for Birmingham

Global Urban Datafest

We are pleased to announce our participation in the Global Urban Datafest hackathon in Birmingham on the weekend of February 20th-22nd. The hackathon will take place statewide, with participants in both Auburn and Birmingham.

The reason for the festivity is the Smarter Cities Challenge. This was an IBM-sponsored initiative which started in 2010, aimed at eventually helping 100 cities address critical challenges. In 2014, Birmingham was one of 16 cities to receive a grant, to address the food desert situation within the city. With that being said, the challenges for the hackathon include, but were not limited to, the development of mobile food markets.

There were a total of 7 challenges proposed this year, but the challenges that caught our attention the most included a Land Bank challenge, as well as a data-conversion challenge. The Birmingham Land Bank Authority proposed several challenges, one of which was creating an app to help streamline blight-reporting, as well as identifying the most urgent blight within the city. This has continuously been a popular topic, it received a major portion of the votes for the most popular project in an article on the topic. It is also an issue many people have asked us to address through a project. Luckily the process of reporting blight is streamlined within the city, and we have an excellent opportunity to spend a weekend making something we hope is useful to this end.

The second project of data conversion is far less popular but much more necessary. Birmingham has mounds of data they are willing to put online and in an open-machine readable format, but the data must first be converted. We are huge advocates of an Open Data policy for our city, and we think this is a necessary step towards that end.

Between both projects we cover a broad range of interests within our brigade, and we will certainly have room for people of various backgrounds to participate. We are extremely excited about the opportunity to participate in the hackathon, and we hope it spreads interest in civic-hacking throughout Birmingham and Alabama.