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Our first-ever #localgov Hack ‘n Mash

Guest post from Jason Dawson of ALGIM talks about the first SilverStripe sponsored "Hack n'...

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Guest post from Jason Dawson of ALGIM talks about the first SilverStripe sponsored "Hack n' Mash" hackathon that was run alongside the ALGIM web & digital symposium on the 17th May 2015.

A hybrid day of ideas, inspiration and learning by doing

Thanks to all those who came along to Christchurch and participated in our inaugural ALGIM SilverStripe local government "Hack 'n Mash" on Sunday 17 May. We ran this free event as a lead-up to the annual ALGIM Web & Digital Symposium.

The aim of the day was to bring together the technical and non-technical alike to work towards overcoming citizen engagement barriers by hacking together software and creating mash ups of existing solutions that drew on open data.

I was inspired to get something off the ground after meeting Shannon Spanhake who was the Deputy Innovation Officer of the City of San Francisco. Following a chat with like-minded individuals like Sig Magnusson, Marion Dowd and Nick Williamson who were keen to support, the idea turned into a reality.

ALGIM hack n mash ideation process

A traditional hackathon (also known as a hack day, hackfest or codefest) is an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software volunteer to do collaborative computer programming. Our event was a mix of “mashing up data and ideas” and “hack creating solutions” through service design methodology.

Special thanks to SilverStripe for sponsoring this event, Nick Williamson for facilitating the day and Dana Burnett and the digital team from Christchurch City Council for providing the venue and support.

Ideation and co-creation

 The purpose was to create solutions for problems many experience within the New Zealand local government sector. Many of the ideas pitched were common to us all and were around making our processes and the information we collect more usable, findable and relevant for our citizens.

ALGIM hack n mash co-creation

Our day started with a few lightning sessions of inspiration from Nick Williamson, Grant Wells, Cam Findlay and Simon Gow.

There were a number of ideas pitched by participants and design solutions were then created for things like: 

  • bringing council agendas and minutes to life by making it relevant, localised and searchable;
  • simple reporting of incidents and dangerous intersections for cyclists, including a crowd-sourced map of safe cycling routes;
  • map layers of our liquor bylaws so people could find out "where can I drink?" (thanks Regan!) which could also be expanded to cover other rules like smoking or dog bylaws; and
  • creating a toolkit for the digital enablement engagement plan which is part of the application for Govt funding for rural broadband rollout. 

There were many more ideas but these ones made the cut based on dot voting. Once teams were formed based on skills (technical and non-technical) and areas of interest, everyone cracked on creating prototypes, testing and smashing out solution demonstrations.

We had fun, we shared experiences, we talked the same language (well most of the time), we created, we innovated and we ate lots of pizza! It hit the mark of being an inspiring day around the power of co-creation, service design and collaboration to create exciting solutions for our communities.

ALGIM hack n mash dominos pizza

A big high-five to Domino's who spotted us free pizzas to help fuel the creative brains for the day too! #loveyourwork

Get involved!

Just because our first event is over, it doesn't mean it ends there! Now it has started, we need to keep the momentum going at future ALGIM Web & Digital events.

Our super, champion of community awesomeness Cam Findlay from SilverStripe created a GitHub for the Hack 'n Mash to store the knowledge that was created. You can check out how we did things and get involved: https://github.com/algim/hacknmash . We'll review this at the next Hack n' mash and see if there are any projects that could be continued.

ALGIM hack n mash Cam

If you're keen to participate in an event near you soon, jump on board the GovHack movement who kick-off their first New Zealand event on 3-5 July 2015: http://govhack.org.nz/ 

If you want to know more or you're keen to organise something similar, get in touch: www.twitter.com/WebTaniwha 

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