White House announces 'National Day of Civic Hacking'

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It's not unusual for free and open source software projects to enlist the help of their fans and supporters in debugging and other efforts to make the software better.

What's less common is for major national governments to do the same thing.

Sure enough, though, the White House Office of Science Technology and Policy on Tuesday announced  the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1 and 2, calling it “an opportunity for software developers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to unleash their can-do American spirit by collaboratively harnessing publicly-released data and code to create innovative solutions for problems that affect Americans.”

NASA challenges

Civic hacking communities have existed for some time already, of course, but this summer's event will be the first time local developers from across the nation unite for this shared purpose, the White House said.

A coalition of organizations, companies, and government agencies have banded together in support of it and will host activities across the country that invite anyone to become part of the civic hacker community, regardless of their skills.

The event is taking place in conjunction with Random Hacks of Kindness and Code for America's Brigade meetings, and is being modeled after the Innovation Endeavors’  Super Happy Block Party.

Federal agencies including NASA, the Census Bureau, and the Department of Labor are offering specific challenges for hackers during the event.

'An ecosystem for change'

“This is an opportunity for citizens in every town and city across the nation to roll up their sleeves, get involved, and work together to improve our society by cultivating an ecosystem for innovation and change,” the White House announcement explains.

Activities are now being planned in cities including Austin, Texas; Bend, Ore.; Boston; Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Palo Alto, Calif.; Portland, Maine; New York City; Philadelphia; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle.

Participants can help by planning an event, supporting an event, or contributing data, code, or other resources.

Ready to do your bit? More info is available on the Hack for Change site.

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