Hack-a-Thon Day 1

Last night, I attended a great opening reception at the World Bank for the Hack-a-Thon. The one here in DC is focused heavily on sanitiation and most of the people participating will be focusing on solving the santition problem sets that have been submitted. Last night was a chance to do some networking and explain a little more about our ideas and try to get more people on board with our ideas.

9:00 After a little confusion, I found the OpenGovHub. The room has a great set-up, lots of workstations with plenty of plug-ins. Right now people are rolling in, grabbing some breakfast (and the first of many coffees for  the day). The event will kick off at 10 with presentations of the problems.

12:00 We started the morning at 10, with presentations from various groups with their projects. We presented our problem set and got some positive feedback. After the presentations, everyone broke into groups to decide which projects to work on. It was chaos for a bit as everyone tried to find the right people to tackle the issues around the problems and solutions. Here in DC, we have people working on the “No More tro-tro-trouble Transport App” and the “Peace Corps Virtual Village”. There are also some people working on an SMS reporting app that will be used for lots of different problems, including some in the PC set. In Phildelphia, they are working on the “Living Directory,” and I am teleworking with them a bit as we try to create a database of NGOs and organizations. We decided Zambia was a great place to start since I have the inside information. It’s really exciting to be here and see how it all is coming together.

5:00 Throughout the afternoon, things have been quieting down around here as people really focus on collecting data, programming, and doing the legwork on solving these problems. I also think the DC Hack-a-thon is a little different than some of the others, in that there are more people just here to check things out. This is probably because a lot of organizations are headquartered in DC, so it is easy for the leadership to pop in and see the process in action. Even the acting Director of Peace Corps, Carrie Hessler-Radelet came for a while this morning to see everyone working on the Peace Corps problem set.

I spent the afternoon plugging away at finding data. There are several databases out there with lists of NGOs – the main problem is that they are of varying quality and varying infomation. The idea is to pull all the information into one place that it easily accessible. We are still working on figuring out a way to make sure the info is accurate and up-to-date. This is a huge problem, and even just to do one country (Zambia) has been a tremendous undertaking. I am heading home now, but people will continue to work here at the OpenGovHub until 9pm, and then will start up again tomorrow at 9am.


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