Hack4Change project list.


Edit SeattleWiki!

  • Document common (or uncommon) city processes - city budgeting, elections, permitting, etc.
  • Document city services and resources available to residents.
  • Make entries for local elected officials and the districts/regions/areas they represent. Include information about how to get in contact with them.
  • Document major issues in your neighborhood and city - Whether it's litter in the park, crime, bike theft, traffic, unemployment, foreclosure, pollution, or something else entirely, you can write about the problem overall and document individual instances of it.
  • Write about civic hacking efforts and groups in your community.
  • Work on porting the Ruby and JavaScript API clients to v4 of the LocalWiki API.

Project lead: Seth Vincent

Team members needed: Anyone that wants to help document their block/neighborhood/city with writing and photos! Also developers that want to help with the API clients.


 Homelessness - (data expose continued)

  • Continuation of previous hackathon work
  • Interdisciplinary team with 4 roles: data scientist, creative, developer, journalist
  • Utilize available public data sets, data.seattle.gov, data.wa.gov, etc.
  • Answer citizen questions through infographics, visualizations, and reports
  • check out our first page which includes d3 map visualization + a correlation analysis done in R Studio. 
  • Next steps: clean up the data sets, include more, add a handful of new d3 visualizations, and ultimately, inform the user about homelessness. This includes visualizing correlation, distribution, clustering, and stuff on a map. We need a good time series tool. Also, we'll work on scenarios and personas which will help us align with the other projects, because this project is just a thin vertical slice of a bigger scenario. We need to grow a working relationship with agencies, however, we also need to start a growing relationship with users (typically activists but maybe casual) who are interested in the topic of homelessness, and deliver content that gives them a truer picture of the issues. 
  • Timeline when assets can be usable 1) by agencies: 1 month - 2) by internet users 3 months

Team: Phuoc Do, Joneil Custodio, Paul Mineau, Tim Reinke, Ronald Ning

Team members needed: creatives (Infographics), developers (data visualizations), data scientists, journalists


Open Data: What's The Right Stuff?

Join our crowd-sourced effort to begin developing common standards for what open data governments should provide - at the city, regional, state and federal levels. We're seeking specific examples of things that could, and should be made available in machine-readable uploadable formats such as Excel or CSV. A Google Doc. will serve as our workbook. More details and key links at: http://www.wacatalyst.org/open-data-whats-the-right-stuff/

As a secondary thrust at Hack for Change Seattle 2014 we'd like to invite anyone who's interested in exploring data visualization to get creative, using three Excel files we've obtained from the Washington State Economic Revenue and Forecast Council. The idea is to build a mapped data visualization - using available tools you find and deploy - displaying 50-state rankings over 2008-2012 on three annual environmental indicators. They are: 1) percent of population living in air quality non-attainment areas; 2) percent of population served by a drinking water supply that is in violation of EPA standards; 3) toxins released - pounds per square mile. The end product will be embed code for an interactive data visualization (675 px wide) that could be published at Catalyst, the blog of the Washington Business Alliance, and promoted via social media, e-newsletters and other methods. 

For more details including links to the three data sets, go to: http://www.wacatalyst.org/data-visualization-toolkit/

Project lead: Matt Rosenberg, Consulting Editor, Washington Business Alliance. [email protected] * 206-661-1958

Team members needed: Open data enthusiasts who can get specific, with good examples of what open data governments should be reporting. Research skills and interest in public policy and performance data are helpful. Also looking for folks who'd like to explore data visualization.


Hacking bicycle and pedestrian counters

Create counters that can be deployed across the city to help study bike, pedestrian and car use of current and planned Neighborhood Greenways throughout Seattle.  Today, the city has many ways of counting cars but counting people walking and biking is still costly and challenging.  If people biking and walking are to count, they need to be counted.  Technologies used are Arduino Uno, sketching language, Sharp IR Rangefinder, Micro SD cards, Realtime Clocks, Adafruit 4-digit 7 segment displays, batteries, breadboards, wires, LEDs, resistors, buzzers, hardened discreet enclosures.  Potential for exploring the use of send/receive pairs of IR beam break detectors, sonar, laser, reed switches, solar chargers.

Project lead: Bob Edmiston

Team members needed: hardware hackers

Code Repository: https://github.com/SeattleGreenways

END-OF-DAY UPDATE: Today we did lots of testing, made working devices, and are approaching having a demo ready. We had three different working teams: the camera team, the hardware IR sensor team, and the web team (online mapping and storage). We will also be forming a team to work on the pressure sensor. At the closing presentations, we had the whole hackathon group do a pedestrian-counting demo: Everyone in the room passed in front of the IR beam/camera and within one minute, the count data and count photos displayed on the web page.


Civic & Activist Event Aggregator

If you want to make a difference in your community, it should be easy for you to get involved.  ActivateHub aggregates calendar feeds from existing non-profits, civic groups, grassroots orgs, Meetup, Event Brite & Facebook.   You can filter by topic (healthcare, climate change, poverty, etc) or by type (documentary, political debate). Resource lists like organizations and venues are automatically generated via calendar feeds.

The platform is open source, Ruby on Rails, live in Portland, Seattle and Detroit.  Splash page with more info and demo videos at ActivateHub.org.

Our issue tracker is always up to date on GitHub, so dig in!  We're relatively agile so each story should be explained well and easy to tackle.

What we'd love to accomplish this weekend:

  • Mapping!  Our venues already have maps and lat/long coordinates.  Users should be able to search a map view for events.
  • Selecting multiple topics.  Our topic and type selection should toggle, and users should be able to select multiple.
  • Bug fixes galore, especially related to cache. 

Project Lead:

Lindsay Caron Epstein    @ActivateLinds     [email protected]


Ruby on Rails developers, CSS, Html5..... and Passionate social change agents!  Help us cull open calendar feeds, tag and curate data, social media outreach.  Make the platform a robust resource for YOUR favorite causes.  We have requests to launch this in cities across the country; any interest in business strategy, funding options and long-term involvement are always welcome!

END-OF-DAY UPDATE: Today we worked on improving the coding environment to enable a more nimble entry process for new open source contributors. Ongoing needs: Would like a technical partner.


Neighborhood community forum

I'm looking to create a community forum where open inclusive community comes first. I want to focus on a platform that's easy for any community to use and something people would be confident enough in to commit volunteer time and money to. Most community organization currently takes place in email lists or on Facebook or Next Door. Email lists are easy to setup and very portable (you can always move the emails somewhere else) but they aren't very robust (or fun) and can be overwhelming for many people. They also don't have a lot of community-centric features. Facebook and Next Door are very popular and their platforms are obviously built around community but they aren't very open, you're dependant on their whims (like when Facebook changed the Pages algorithm) and if something shuts down (like Everyblock did) you are out of luck with all your members trapped in their systems. All that work you put into your community is gone. I want to change that.

Some Options:

  1. Work with E-Democracy.org on their own current forum system which just launched a new version: http://forums.e-democracy.org/
  2. Adapt an existing open system to better server community and neighborhood groups.
    1. Reddit code (made user friendly)
    2. Discourse?
    3. EveryBlock code
    4. Existing basic web forums
  3. Create something new and exciting from scratch.

Project lead:
Phillip Duggan
[email protected]

Team Members Needed:
Everything. Seriously. Developers to build out shiny new features, UX and designers to help make it user friendly for those who aren't geeks, community organizers and people who have used their neighborhood forums, people experienced with open source projects, people who have ideas, people who don't have ideas but could get inspired by lively conversation with others who do have ideas, and others I'm missing

END-OF-DAY UPDATE: We defined project scope and requirements and researched existing community forums. It was helpful to get feedback from hackathon attendees on what is feasible and what is needed for a good neighborhood forum.

OneBusHome - Passive Deployment of OneBusAway

OneBusAway is great. You might have noticed that there are a couple of bus stops that have screens showing bus arrivals. These are cheap, and there should be more of them! We want start building a disk image that can be loaded on a raspberry pi or similar embedded device to leave in the windows of businesses in front of high traffic bus stops. Goals for today are scripts to have a stable UI that loads on boot, and working on how to do auto-update & network configuration.


Project lead: Will Scott

Team members needed: Web & Unix developers, designers

END-OF-DAY UPDATE: We went from having an idea to having some code written (local scripts). We are still interested in getting more volunteers: coders, designers, hardware people.


Smarter Cleanup for the Duwamish River superfund site

The Duwamish River is Seattle's only river and is one of the most polluted urban waterways in America. The river contains more than 40 different contaminants that are identified as being above the safe limits for humans and the environment, including PCBs, dioxin, carcinogenic PAHs, and arsenic. The contamination has also spread to the rest of Puget Sound, negatively affecting wildlife across the entire oceanic food chain (orcas, sea lions, plankton).

In 2001, The Duwamish River was declared a “Superfund” site from the US Environmental Protection Agency. After 13 years of political deliberation, a cleanup effort has been underway, but there are many important questions about who will be doing the cleanup, how the cleanup will take place, how much it will cost, and how effective it will be for future generations.

Our goal is to create a community monitoring system that will allow the public and various stakeholders to track the cleanup and ensure that it is done in the best way possible. There is an example case study from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where technologists came together and built "Que Pasa Riachuelo" to allow communities to participate in the cleanup of the Riacheulo watershed.

We have access to the enterprise edition of Google Maps Engine, which can be used to serve detailed map tiles from the King County repository, and display reports from the community who have questions or concerns about the cleanup.

Join us on this hackpad to learn more and get plugged in!


or write to [email protected]

Project lead:  Jacob Caggiano - smartercleanup.org

Team members needed: Any programmer familiar with the Ushahidi/Crowdmap platform and API. Anyone who has experience with online geospatial systems. A javascript wizard would be great too. Designers also welcome :)


Get Me Help in My Language

Mobile app. People see a dropdown box of language choices. They pick one or several languages besides English. The app goes out and searches some specified set of sites for content in that language.

The goal is to provide a homepage of commonly used resources provided by City of Seattle & King County localized in the different languages used in the city.

Project lead: Dorene Cornwell

Team members needed: designer, developer, writer, policy, someone with funding logic, maybe someone else with localization or language services experience.



OpenStreetMap mapping

There are multiple projects available:

Project lead: Pat Tressel

Team members needed: Mappers and aspiring mappers, Java developers (for JOSM)

END-OF-DAY UPDATE: We got two new volunteers set up and continued mapping.


Air Quality API & Display

We are all affected by air quality and, at times, should limit our exposure to the outdoors to avoid air conditions which may be hazardous to our health; however, air quality information is not readily available to the public or developers. Fortunately, good air quality information is available through the EPA for many locations within the Untied States, Canada, and other locales; however, although this data is available it is not very accessible at the moment. The data can be accessed in bulk format via a CSV file and through rigid RESTful APIs accessible only with authentication. The goal of this project will be to collect the air quality information and create a more responsive API around it, along with front-end visualizations.

During the National Day of Civic Hacking both Richard Barnes ([email protected]) and Rebecca Fink worked on this project, successfully completing a frontend visualization and making good progress on a backend API.