On Saturday, May 31, fourteen teams of tech developers gathered at Broad Ripple’s Speak Easy for the Indy Chamber’s first-ever Indy Civic Hack Day. The convergence of civic data, Indy’s tech and startup community, and our talented IT professionals and college students resulted in 14 real-world solutions to common civic challenges such as pothole reporting, trash service questions, and identifying high-accident areas.
Traditionally, creating solutions for these types of questions would have been solved with consultants and large software development companies. In today’s digital age, open data and hackathons are the answer. What was once a bad word, hackathons across the nation are solving some of government’s most difficult challenges with simple applications. So, why is this important to the Indy region?
Talent Attraction and Development
Hackathons attract tech developers and coders that are motivated, smart, and think outside the box. As the Indy Chamber strives to cultivate this community with opportunities like this, it’s slowly expanding our tech talent. For example, the winning team behind Indy Civic Hack Day is made up of college students participating in IndyXtern, a comprehensive internship experience from TechPoint. As these students look to the future for their career direction, tech companies to work for, and a cool place to live, they have the world at their feet with Silicon Valley and Boulder screaming their names. Up to this point in their lives, these students have chosen the Indy region, so the number one question is how to we keep them here? By developing great opportunities for them to grow their skillset and interact with companies like Interactive Intelligence and Healthx, both sponsors of Indy Civic Hack Day, it strengthens their roots in the Indy region, further incentivizing them to stay here, learn here, and grow here. By developing a strong tech workforce, Indy regional businesses are able to compete in the talent game with companies in cities like San Francisco, Boston, or Denver. When Indy’s tech companies have smart, creative talent, they create smart, creative products and services which lead to further growth and innovation attributed to our region.
Governments cumulate a great deal of data; statistics on residents, emergency response, complaints, etc. For most governments, information like this is stored with no time or resources devoted to putting this data to work. Enter: civic-minded hackathons. For example, the second place team at Indy Civic Hack Day developed a solution for the City of Indianapolis Mayors Action Center’s most called about topic: trash pickup. Through this team’s solution, a text message-based program that would alert residents of their trash pickup day and any changes to the schedule. The Mayor’s Action Center could potentially divert the more than 20,000 calls yearly on this topic, freeing up time to spend on other matters and increasing positive customer service experiences.
Word in the tech community spreads fast. A community who notoriously shares information, startups across the country are looking for the type of open data that the Indy Chamber is working to make available long term.
And big things are happening with Indy-based companies. Indy Civic Hack Day co-host Social Health Insights just last week announced a partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to open their millions of records of data to the tech community. This kind of progress is what gets the tech community buzzing about what’s happening in Indianapolis which leads to further development and expansions.
The Indy Chamber continues to lead the charge in helping connect our tech community to data to create something positive for the greater good. The Indy Chamber will continue to look for opportunities for more hackathons and will continue its Hoosier Healthcare Innovation Challenge this October.
Click here to read more about Indy Civic Hack Day.
For a list of teams and their solutions, click here to explore the event's Hack Pad.