- An app that determines tree survival rates and budgeting project that asks New York citizens how public money should be spent were among the winners of the city’s first NYC Open Data Project Gallery Contest.
- The contest asked participants to build a civic project using one or more of the 2,000 public datasets on NYC Open Data.
- Winners will have their work posted online and will get a certificate of recognition from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cities collect vast amounts of data, both open and private, and hackathons offer an opportunity for the private sector to harness it for public use. After passing open data legislation in 2012, New York City opened up more data than most cities; its data website now has information on everything from tax medallion drivers to 311 call requests to film permits. The intention at the time was to not just be transparent, but to make information available for engagement with journalists, programmers, students or any citizen.
Samir Saini, commissioner of New York’s department of information technology and telecommunications, said in a statement that "open data is a powerful tool that fosters civic innovation," adding that he hoped "more New Yorkers will be inspired to tap into the portal and see all that it has to offer."
Other cities have tried to share open data through hackathon events or private partnerships. A Smart City Hack last year had the participation of 22 cities and led to the creation of an app that allowed homeowners and businesses to post open parking spaces, and a location and assistance app for people with disabilities. Columbus, OH held its own hackathon last month, focused around transportation challenges like parking management or transit access for low-income neighborhoods. Such projects can offer an incentive to programmers, or pool resources among private citizens to create smart city applications.