Election Day Hackathon encourages people to use open technology for civic engagement

Annual RIT hackathon Nov. 3 features speakers on civic technology and open data

RIT’s annual Election Day Hackathon will be held virtually at 6 p.m. Nov. 3.

As the 2020 election results come in Nov. 3, civic hackers at Rochester Institute of Technology want to remind people about the power of technology and how it can be used for good.

At RIT’s Election Day Hackathon, students, faculty, staff, and community members will analyze civic problems in the local community, state, and country and propose projects to address them.

This is the 10th annual Election Day Hackathon and the first time the event will be held virtually. The event begins at 6 p.m. Nov. 3.

“Elections are about the business of government and the civic services we derive from our governmental infrastructure,” said Stephen Jacobs, director of Open@RIT and professor in RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media. “Sometimes we get lost in frenzy of the elections and forget that they’re all tied to serving and providing services to our citizens.”

At the event, a panel of speakers will discuss their open projects and invite people to join. Speakers will include:

  • Katherine May, chief performance officer of the city of Rochester. She will discuss DataROC, a public clearinghouse for information about the city of Rochester that was launched in 2020.
  • Matthew Bernius, principal user researcher at Code for America’s Clear My Record project, who will talk about his group’s work to transform the way government delivers services to those most impacted by the criminal justice system.
  • Jacob Green, founder of Mosslabs.io, who will talk about his organization’s project to bring together open source communities and the city of Baltimore. Mosslabs is working with Lutèce in Paris, an established open source platform designed to house city services and offer a base platform on which to develop web and mobile applications.

After the panel discussion, participants will split off into Zoom breakout rooms to work on existing civic projects and suggest new project ideas. There will also be a social breakout room.

Leaders also plan to work on the “Voices for Suffrage” project from the Library of Congress and Second Avenue Learning. The open source website and games aim to teach people about the women’s suffrage movement and history. Civic hackers can help by creating transcriptions of women’s right to vote documents for the project.

The event is sponsored by Open@RIT, RIT’s open work programs office, and FOSS@MAGIC.

To register, go to the Election Day Hackathon Eventbrite webpage. Organizers will email login information a few hours before the event begins.

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