Civic Hacking Day: Building Better Communities with What You’ve GotSeptember 18, 2022
The National Day of Civic Hacking is traditionally celebrated on September 18th annually. And although it has the word “hacking” in it, it does not mean what you may think.
Civic hacking goes beyond just hacking in the technical sense, as in, coding, programming, and infiltrating a computerized networking system. Civic hacking is a term for using what you have, whether it be skills, resources, or opportunities, and utilizing them to help your community and effectively improve government policies.
Code for America, an organization that works to bridge the gap between technology and effective usership, describes civic hacking as having a “can-do attitude and inclination towards innovative solutions.” It is a way for citizens to unite and respond to challenges facing their neighborhoods and communities by offering creative and collaborative change. The theme for this year was “Reimagining 911.” The goal––to take a deeper look at the emergency response system currently in place and create more fluid solutions rather than a one-size-fits-all approach towards a systemic change. These types of projects call to action those who have skills of all kinds, whether it be in computer science, engineering, cybersecurity, data analysis, construction, leadership––anyone with a passion and a talent can join in helping their community through civic hacking, using the skills and resources they already have to initiate change for the better. This is usually where “hackathons” come into play, which are events held to encourage the engagement of community members in resolving technical issues they feel need to be addressed. One notable result of such an event was the creation of the Philly311 app. This application now supplements the 311 service already in place and provides an avenue for community members to quickly access service requests, neighborhood updates, and general inquiries that may not be addressed by the main 311 line in a timely manner. This improves response time and reduces mainline burden, as well as keeps the community more informed. Collaborative ideas like this can further facilitate change and build stronger communities, leading to an improvement in health and equity in our nation.
At Capitol Technology University, we embrace this mindset, as can be seen with our motto, “Either Find a Way or Make One.” Over the many decades that Capitol Tech has been building careers, one thing has become clear: our students and alumni are extremely innovative and creative, always seeking answers and finding ways to make dreams into reality. As a STEM-focused institution, Capitol Tech students are in a unique position to learn from industry-expert faculty and receive hands-on technical experience in their science, engineering, technology, and construction fields. They go on to become leaders and experts themselves, creating new paths in a world that needs diverse solutions. Civic Hacking Day celebrates these individuals––the people who don’t give up and who find a way or make one for the betterment of their communities.