After five years hacking, Code for Kansas City is expanding its reach with new projects and avenues for using the brigade’s coding and technology skills to identify and match problems in the community with potential solutions.
A fifth annual hackathon event this weekend — the National Day of Civic Hacking or HackKC — illustrates the group’s longevity and commitment to Kansas City, organizers said. The hackathon is set for 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Think Big Partners. Design, coding and tech enthusiasts are encouraged to attend the public event.
This weekend’s gathering follows an August Kansas City Eviction Workshop and Hackathon, which combined the work of local data scientists, researchers and data research group Dataiku to focus on solving the issue of excessive evictions in Jackson County.
Working with the 173,720 eviction records from 1999 to 2016, teams of coders analyzed and evaluated various eviction factors. The winning team included loyal Code for Kansas City coders — Noah Rhee, Leslie Scott and Jake LaCombe — who won by analyzing income level and eviction rates by neighborhood.
“At the end of the hackathon, the different groups presented their work,” Noah Rhee said. “Our group’s presentation helped foster discussion, getting people to discuss for what reasons specific neighborhoods were bucking the trend.”
The eviction workshop and hackathon, like many hackathons, was a one-time event. Code for Kansas City itself differs by offering a structured collaboration meetup at 6 p.m. every Monday to continue to follow through on successful projects.
Most of the brigade’s longstanding coders and efforts have started or gained momentum through this weekly process, including one Code for Kansas City’s most extensive and successful projects: Community KC, a community mapping resource tool for nonprofit and granting organizations in the area.
The brigade’s existing team has already pitched five new project ideas that still need members to implement:
- MapKC — Mental health resources in Kansas City are underutilized in many communities for a multitude of reasons, Code for Kansas City organizers said. In an effort to assist health providers with mental health resource recommendations, the brigade hopes to map and catalog mental health resources for individuals or organizations that handle referrals. This team needs coders familiar with APIs, mappers familiar with GIS, designers and anyone in the mental health profession.
- Free the Lots — Kansas City’s vacant lots are a constant issue the brigade’s coders are trying to address. A major obstacle to buying and rehabbing abandoned and blighted properties in the urban core of Kansas City are hidden legal claims against properties. This project plans to assist local legal support aides, such as Neighborhood Legal Support, to identify large swaths of abandoned homes with legal issues attached to them. This project requires someone with subject matter expertise in clearing titles, as well as software developers, designers and researchers.
- Graffiti Abatement Tracking — Code for Kansas City is partnering with the Community Resource Team to reduce and remove graffiti around the Prospect corridor. This project is still open-ended and needs any and all help: designers, coders, researchers and engaged citizens.
- Your Trash Day — This project is an quick-and-easy app for beginning coders and UX designers. Your Trash Day aspires to be a simple lookup app to assist new and existing residents in identifying their trash pickup day, recycling locations, and other trashy things.
- Streetlights and Open Data Collection — Streetlights are becoming more and more commoditized across the United States as companies rig them with data collection tools in the process of switching from traditional bulbs to LEDs. In the spirit of Kansas City’s open data initiative, this project hopes to create a single aggregated map resource of all the streetlights in the Kansas City metro area, with information on who owns the streetlight (private or public entities), whether they are “smart” LED streetlights, and what technology is attached to them. This team needs coders, data analysts, journalists, experts in GIS, designers and anyone with any knowledge of data collection.
Code for Kansas City still has existing projects looking for new members with design, code and UX experience. New projects are also always welcome at the brigade, and the team is accepting walk-in pitches after breakfast for the National Day of Civic Hacking, if time allows.