News Hackathon improves access to public data

Over on Technically Philly, Chris Wink has highlighted the products, mobile and otherwise, that surfaced during the News Hackathon held alongside the CPIJ-sponsored BarCamp News Innovation conference at Temple last weekend. Check it out below:

Six projects made it to the judging phase at the end of the fourth annual BarCamp NewsInnovation, which like last year again featured a hackathon focused on informing communities, particularly underserved ones.

A mobile add-on to, a web resource for accessing Philadelphia social services that had been built at a previous hacakthon, won top prize and was built by Azavea developer Adam Hinz.

More than 40 developers and journalists worked on tools that had a mobile focus and a news spirit. The hackathon happened conterminously with BCNI, which welcomed 120 reporters and news media thinkers from throughout the East Coast.

Check out the participants below and photos of the event on Facebook here.


  • FIRST PLACE: mobile add on by Adam Hinz gives more flexibility to the already popular hackathon project.
  • SECOND PLACE (tie): led by Philadelphia Gay News Editor Sarah Blazucki, with activist Faye Anderson, Comcast developer Mike Ball, Indy Hall’s Bula, Gabriel Farrell, Daniel Freiman, Casey Thomas and Code for America fellow Alex Yule, conveys how varied LGBT rights are by comparing by location. Visit it here.
  • SECOND PLACE (tie): Switchboard: This mass survey tool was aimed at collecting information from taxi drivers but can have other application, says the original pitch from Bryan Mercer at the Media Mobilizing Project and Ron Blount of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania. The development team, which took on the hard work of building the thing, included Josh Marcus, and Bennet Huber of Azavea, Dan Feder and Bryan Purcell. Find the project GitHub here.
  • Text Blast: The mass text-message information tool by Tim Wisniewski will help civic groups mobilize. Visit it here.
  • Money Talks: Focusing on the withering local campaign finance data from Our Philadelphia, journalists Tom Ferrick and Chris Brennan partnered with Comcast developer Karl Martino and Rob Kandell to collaborate on some data.
  • Councilmatic: The more flexible City Council legislation tool from Mjumbe Poe gained some ground.

BCNI was sponsored by the Center for Public Interest Journalism and hosted by Temple University. The hackathon was sponsored by Tropo, which offered SMS tech support for two of the projects. Technically Philly organized both events.

The winners will be receiving a prize pack thanks to support from CPIJ.

The projects were judged by Mark Headd of Code for America, Clinton Johnson of the City of Philadelphia, Erika Owens of Hacks/Hackers and also Amy Gahran of Oakland Local and Dan Schultz of Truth Goggles.

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National Problems, Local Solutions.
The Center for Public Interest Journalism was created in 2010 to support programming and projects intended to improve the quantity and quality of public interest news and information in the Greater Philadelphia area.


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