A Look Back on National Day of Civic Hacking 2018

On August 11th, 2018, Code for Miami and the Code for America Brigades hosted National Day of Civic Hacking–a nationwide day of action to bring together civic leaders to work with our local governments and non-profits to tackle some of our communities toughest challenges.

The format of this years National Day of Civic Hacking started with one idea: How can we get continuity of projects after the day of the event. We decided that best way to do this was to link up volunteers with causes that interested them and by letting them choose, create a connection, and make an investment in a presenting organization sharing their cause.

We reached out to five amazing local organizations to join us on this day: Urban Impact Lab, Miami Transit Alliance, VolunteerCleanup.org, Catalyst Miami, and FIU Sea Level Solutions Center.

We started the day with a Civics 101 course by Urban Impact Lab. During this they went over the basics of knowing where you live, who represents you, and what can you do to speak on your own behalf to your local governments. They ended the presentation with questions for the audience and gave out ‘commission meeting survival toolkits’ to the winners. These goodie bags included everything needed to get through a lengthy commission meeting, including a granola bar, a Capri Sun, playing cards and a reference sheet of local representatives by district.

Civics 101 Crash Course

Following this keynote we asked each participating organization to present a three minute intro about their group including some of the initiatives they focus on and what attendees could expect to discuss in the breakout session, giving enough insight to our volunteers who might want to spend the rest of the day helping them.

We created sign up sheets and posted them on the wall to allow the volunteers to sign up with one of the organizations they just heard from.

Mid morning we broke off into groups and asked each organization to talk to their specific group on the following discussion points:

  • What are your organization’s goals?
  • How did you get started?
  • What did you wish you knew before forming your organization?
  • How has the focus of your organization changed or evolved over time?
  • What challenges have you faced in achieving your organization’s goals?
  • How have you leveraged technology or data to achieving your organization’s goals?
  • What data have you collected?
  • How have you leveraged volunteers to help your organization?
  • Are you currently looking for volunteers?
  • What do you need help with moving forward?

During the afternoon portion we focused on ideas and prototypes. We gave our attendees an Action Checklist to help them think about a plan of action to help their chosen organization achieve it goals.

In the late afternoon we kicked off our presenting our day’s work and findings.

Shown in their final presentations, each group was able to walk away with a much deeper knowledge of the organization’s goals and the challenges they are trying to overcome. Almost all of them were able to address a specific need and quick win during the afternoon, and if not, they were able to make a plan on how to help them move forward. The bond created by sitting in a room together was the goal we were looking for and we achieved it.

You can check out some of the final presentations here: