The New York State Office of Information Technology Services (ITS) announced the cities of Albany, Rochester, and New York are among 99 cities hosting 121 events for the Second Annual National Day of Civic Hacking taking place May 31 – June 1, 2014.  The national event is planned in coordination with the White House and is supported by a number of federal, state, and local agencies, including ITS.

“New York State is a recognized global hub for innovation, and this exciting event is proof positive of our willingness to drive technological innovation,” NYS Chief Information Officer Brian Digman said.  “The National Day of Civic Hacking is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to participate to create, build, and invent new solutions using publicly-released data, code, and technology. You don’t have to be an expert in technology. You simply have to care about your community as I know New Yorkers do.”

The National Day of Civic Hacking is an opportunity for citizens, software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to use publically available data and technology to tackle civic or social challenges such as coordination of homeless shelters, or access to fresh, local, affordable food. Participants are encouraged to use open data like the information found on New York State’s open data portal, Open NY (www.data.ny.gov).

Mr. Digman said, “The National Day of Civic Hacking is about building a community that will take the visions for tomorrow and turn them into realities today. This is a fantastic event to spur creative thinking, to leverage our State’s enthusiasm for innovation, and for our State’s talented high-tech community to give back to New Yorkers.”

Civic hacking as a form of citizen engagement and volunteerism is gaining momentum reaching cities across America, not just those known for technology and innovation. Last year more than 11,000 innovators from the private-sector, non-profits, and federal, state, and local governments worked together to hack on projects.

“Civic hackers” are engineers, technologists, civil servants, scientists, designers, artists, educators, students, entrepreneurs, and community members – anybody who is willing to collaborate with others to create, build, and invent open source solutions using publicly-released data, code, and technology to solve challenges. Many people have negative connotations of what a “hacker” means.  In the technology community, a hacker is someone who uses a minimum of resources and a maximum of brainpower and ingenuity to create, enhance, or fix something.

New York State Chief Technology Officer Kishor Bagul said, “Innovation does not grow in isolation but thrives in a community where public and private sectors, together with academia, collaborate to share ideas and talent to design solutions.  The National Day of Civic Hacking is a fantastic event to plant seeds of innovation across our state and foster our growing innovation economy.”

In New York State, five events are scheduled in three cities on May 31.  Each event has a different challenge to tackle and anyone interested in participating, regardless of technical skills, is invited to attend and contribute.

Luis Ibanez, Albany Hackathon event coordinator said, “We are very excited to host a hackathon for the second National Day of Civic Hacking at the University at Albany. The event is open to all, and we invite anyone interested in combining technology to the service of civic activities to join us. We will be working on a project using crowdsourcing data for environmental monitoring, and another project to evaluate the demographics of the workforce in higher education.”

Chris Whong, co-host of CityCamp NYC said, “This year for the National Day of Civic Hacking, BetaNYC will be hosting a one-day event called CityCamp NYC.  CityCamp NYC’s mission is to build projects that improve our community, demonstrate open data value, and improve pending legislation. This day will be an intimate event to build, learn, and play. We welcome everyone to join us and build a 21st century New York City government.”

Vanessa Hurst, founder of CodeMontage and coordinator for National Day of Civic Hacking NYC said, “At REDI, we expect 50 members of the NYC community will gather to improve collaboration between citizens using open source technologies. During the event, we will feature open source projects that enable citizens to share information, access community resources, and live better lives.”

Remy DeCausemaker, Open Source Research coordinator at the RIT MAGIC Center, and the event coordinator for the Rochester Hackathon said, “This is Rochester’s Second Annual National Day of Civic Hacking Event and we are thrilled to host this exciting regional technology and community event. We look forward to collaborating and sharing our passion for technology to help our citizens and government partners solve real-world problems.”

Jerri Chou, founder of The Feast, said, “The Feast will gather developers, experts, and innovators in the area of resiliency, education, and health for an afternoon event on May 31 for the National Civic Day of Hacking. Focusing on building support for civic-minded solutions coming out of previous hackathons, we are bringing together the tech, creative, and entrepreneurial communities to foster mutually-supportive partnerships. The event will be hosted at TurnToTech and we will provide lightweight networking activities, speakers, and light refreshments.”

The following is information on the National Day of Civic Hacking events in Albany, Rochester, and New York City.  To participate in an event, contact the organization listed below.  To learn more about the National Day of Civic Hacking, visit www.hackforchange.org.

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