What is it? As the internet becomes ever more prevalent in our lives, there is a growing need for community organizations and governments to have useful websites and innovative computer programming applications. This can be very expensive and requires an uncommon skill set. While hacking is often viewed as negative, a civic hacking event is designed for people who have innovative programming skills to donate their time and energy to help organizations in their community. The participants might help create a website, a data storage system or develop an app. This obviously helps the organizations involved, but it also helps draw people with these skills into being involved in their communities. Communities can always benefit from leveraging the skills of their residents to help better the area.
How has it been used? The Hampton Roads area of Virginia is home to Code for Hampton Roads. This is a group of all kinds of people skilled in working with computers that have come together to help the governments and civic organizations of the area. They work on a number of projects, including identifying and mapping traffic hotspots and art establishments, setting up a bus tracking system and making environmental reporting systems easier. They set up a civic hacking day in 2013 to help connect the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with its partners to support the Clean the Bay Day. Communication was greatly improved and it allowed for a much more effective day of cleaning. All of these programs are designed to take advantage of the skills in the community to help create a better place to live. (Source: Code for Hampton Roads)