Civic Hacking for Humanitarian Relief and Rebuilding

Last week, my good friend and colleague Jessica Klein was honored at the White House as a Champion of Change, for all her community engagement efforts in her hometown of Far Rockaway. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Jess along with two amazing journalists, Katie Honan and Jaime Jordan formed Rockaway Help, an open data and news organization for Rockaway residents.

In early Spring, Jess mentioned that National Day of Civic Hacking was coming up and hoped to plan a hackathon around emergency preparedness, response and rebuilding. I was excited to join the planning committee and think about how design principles could be applied to humanitarian aid issues, specifically for the Rockaways.

Residents brainstorm

Fast forward a few months, and we have a couple of viable prototypes which I’m looking forward to fleshing out and piloting with residents, developers and designers. Our awesome videographer Oresti captured many of our best moments brainstorming and hacking, viewable here.

It’s been fun to take part in a national initiative in the civic innovation field. I hope this momentum continues to build.