Hack for Western Mass: Local Needs for Government Data

Hack for Western Mass

Logo designed by Molly McLeod

This weekend, June 1-2, is the first National Day of Civic Hacking – more than 90 events organized by local groups across the U.S that will use technology to tackle civic and social challenges.

NPP is one of lead the organizers and sponsors of Hack for Western Mass, our local contribution to this national event, and we're proud to join with civic hackers from Maine to Alaska to the White House.

As we asked our community to pitch challenges for a group of volunteer technologists, designers, and problem-solvers to work on, we were struck by the overwhelming need for open government data. While NPP has always relied on federal data for our research and our Federal Priorities Database, it turns out that many other local organizations also use government-published information in their work.

For example, Community Action, which connects over 30,000 people a year with critical human services, uses the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to allocate resources effectively. Their challenge pitch is to map high need areas using the Census data. 

Pioneer Valley Local First wants to survey the local banking landscape and show the benefits of banking locally by using deposit information from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the National Credit Union Administration.

Over in Easthampton, MA, Prison Policy Initiative is planning to use feedback collected by the Federal Communications Commision in their advocacy work around prison phone rates.

To our North, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments wants to take the state’s data on public wells and augment it with information about private well locations.

And of course NPP submitted a challenge too. We want to audit and visualize federal money in our communities.

The full list of Hack for Western Mass challenges is here. If anything inspires you, we're collecting ideas about solving the challengers on our collaboratively-edited Hackpad. And if you're free this weekend, it’s not too late to register and be a part of this historic weekend.