#HackForChange: A Story Behind The Hashtag from Sacramento

By Davar Ardalan

There is something profound and surprising about a young man in Sacramento talking about food insecurity in California’s state capital. But the fact is California has one of the largest poverty rates in the country. U.S. Census Bureau data from 2012 shows that 16.5 percent of Sacramento County residents live below the poverty line and some say that figure is higher today. So it isn’t surprising that at a National Day of Civic Hacking event in Sacramento yesterday, the focus was on using open data to create an actionable picture of food insecurity and find innovative solutions for the State of California to consider.

Dozens of civic hackers collaborated on data challenges and a $2,000 prize for innovations to improve quality of life in the Sacramento Promise Zone. According to Feeding America, some 240,000 people in Sacramento County are food insecure.

Feeding America graphic on food insecurity in Sacramento

At the Urban Hive hackathon, Tim Yoon, addressed three judges and shared how he and his fellow civic hackers used Google Maps APIs to map area food banks to food desert (also referred to as food swamp) locations in Sacramento. Yoon said that early findings suggest that there may not be enough accessible food pantries for Promise Zone residents both in terms of location and hours of operation.

Teams were also asked to use census data to increase opportunity in disadvantaged communities. The city of Sacramento, like many other cities around the nation created a portal of curated data including traffic counts, year-to-date crime statistics, missed solid-waste service pick ups, City of Sacramento 311 informational calls, location of city trees, and building permits issued by month.

Maya Wallace of Code for Sacramento

Maya Wallace of Code for Sacramento says the Sacramento Promise Zone has not benefited as much in the economic recovery post-recession and data innovation can help revitalize the community. “Data visualizations will help community partners, decision makers and residents understand how to make strategic investments for greater impact,” says Wallace.

Tim Yoon was raised in the Bay Area and interned at Code For America in 2011 were he became deeply interested in helping the public find solutions through technology. Today he’s a consultant for Accenture working with the State of California on healthcare initiatives.

(From Left to Right top row: Dave Spivey, Yasmin Seyal, Adam Busch, Tim Yoon. Not pictured Elena Davert) The winning civic hacking team members at Code for Sacramento. Also pictured (bottom row)Tamara Srzentic and Mike Valle of California Health and Human Services and Davar Ardalan of SecondMuse.

At 6pm yesterday, Yoon and his team were announced as the winners of the Code for Sacramento food insecurity challenge. Yoon’s hope is for the City of Sacramento and other organizations, food banks and churches in the area to work together to build this solution out and use it effectively and efficiently to address food issues in the Sacramento.

The National Day of Civic Hacking is a collaboration of Code for America, SecondMuse and the U.S. Small Business Administration. As part of the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 4, 2016, SecondMuse storytellers shared real-time videos, tweets and Facebook live captures throughout the day from Washington D.C., Boston, Sacramento and Palo Alto. According to Keyhole.co analytics the #HackforChange hashtag reached some 21 million people throughout the world.

About the Author:

Davar Ardalan is Director of Storytelling & Engagement at SecondMuse. Ardalan leads systems storytelling around citizen science, ocean conservation, humanitarian disaster relief, materials innovation and big data. As a veteran journalist and former social media strategist at NPR News, Ardalan’s real-time campaigns garnered millions of impressions on Twitter across the globe.

Related Links:

Like what you read? Give SecondMuse a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.