Government groups tap civic 'hackers' to address problems

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A mayoral office wants fewer phone calls about garbage.

Highway and police agencies want to chart out the most accident-prone corridors.

Local and state programs, in general, have copious amounts of facts and figures they need organized.

The government groups plan to turn dozens of computer experts loose on floods of public data in hopes of finding solutions to these problems—or any others they didn’t already think of.

A collection of tech firms and business organizations will host a “hackathon” on Saturday at The Speak Easy, a Broad Ripple co-working club for entrepreneurs.

As part of the National Day of Civic Hacking, a maxed-out crowd of 140 people at Indy Civic Hack Day will field challenges from the Indianapolis Mayor’s Action Center, Indiana Department of Transportation and other government agencies.

Organizers will then provide the hackers with all the public data they have in hopes some of it will birth software solutions.

“This is not just an academic exercise. We want real-world solutions,” said Matt Kirby, one of the event’s coordinators and director of business attraction and development for Develop Indy.

A handful of officials have come up with specific issues they want to address. The Mayor’s Action Center, for instance, wants to reduce the number of phone calls with frequent, basic questions about trash service, such as “when is pickup?”

“If we can find a way to use public data that’s already available, we can actually help increase customer service,” said Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Mayor Greg Ballard’s office.

Or hackathon participants can think up their own social issues they want to remedy.

Participants will hear the challenges and set themselves to task after opening remarks in the morning. They will spend most of the day coding while technology professionals from established companies, such as Interactive Intelligence and Healthx, float around dispensing advice.

A “show and tell” in the evening will feature the day’s projects. Judges will select a winner who will receive a cash prize in an amount to be announced Saturday. The winner also gets to present at pop-culture convention Pop Con on Sunday at the Indiana Convention Center, among other awards.

And government representatives will be on the lookout for technology they actually want to implement.

Saturday’s hackathon at The Speak Easy will be among more than 100 similar events nationwide, as well as a handful abroad. Two others are scheduled in Indiana: one in South Bend and one in Fort Wayne.


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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

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