My Brother's Keeper Data Jam: August 2

On February 27, President Obama announced the My Brother's Keeper initiative, a program that combines the efforts of the government, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector to work with boys and young men of color to close the lingering achievement gap. If you're as passionate about social justice as you are about data, MBK is worth paying attention to. The Department of Education has made effective use of data one of the core tenets of MBK.

The first MBK Data Jam will be held on the Georgetown campus on August 2. Register as a participant and spend the whole day jamming on teams comprised of designers, data viz experts, developers, educators, and practitioners to create data visualizations of current challenges and build new tools in order to create ladders of opportunity for all youth, including boys and young men of color; thought leaders and subject matter experts in the MBK focus areas can register as a coach/mentor and spend the afternoon providing feedback to the teams formed in the morning.

Let's show the world what data can do!

Calling All Coders: AT&T Public Safety App Hackathon

This blog post was written by Ben Nelson. Ben Nelson is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager for the AT&T Developer Program.

Have you been looking to build an app that will have a real impact on your community? Then our AT&T Mobile App Hackathon focused on Public Safety is for you!

This event will bring together developers, designers, and first responder communications experts in order to disrupt the public safety app market. We will have experts from AT&T, Google, DHS, McAfee and Apperian onsite to assist you in building your apps and launching them into the public safety space. In order to help everyone get their juices flowing the Department of Homeland Security has provided us with four (4) challenges to give everyone visibility into the markets needs.

At the end of the day winners will take down their share of over $25,000 in prizes AND participants will have the opportunity to win cool prizes (e.g. Spheros or Quadricopters) just for speaking with first responders about their apps.

To learn more and register, visit:


Calling all Coders! Code-a-Palooza Submissions Now Open

The Health Datapalooza 2014 Code-a-Palooza challenge is now open for submissions! Teams will use newly-released Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) data to create interactive data visualization tools to help consumers improve their health care decision-making.  Prizes totaling $35,000 will be awarded. HDP_logo-hi-res_RGB 

Code-a-Palooza Timeline:

  • Wednesday, April 9 – Code-a-Palooza opens for submissions
  • Friday, April 25 – Visualization proposals of no more than 750 words due
  • Friday, May 2 – Top five to ten finalists notified
  • Throughout May – Finalists build out visualization tools
  • June 1-3 at Health Datapalooza – Finalists present a live demo to a panel of judges and winners are announced

Why should you participate?

  • Code-a-Palooza applicants will be eligible for a discounted Health Datapalooza registration rate of $195
  • Finalists receive two complimentary registrations to Health Datapalooza 2014
  • Gain recognition for your team and network with leaders in healthcare
  • First place team awarded $20,000, second place $10,000 and third $5,000


To learn more about this year’s Code-a-Palooza challenge and submit your proposal, please visit the Health Datapalooza website.

Watch a video of last year’s winners, Hippocratic Code from Medstar Institute for Innovation, to learn more about the Health Datapalooza Code-a-Palooza experience.

Energy Education Data Jam

This is a guest post by Austin Brown, co-organizer of the Data Jam, and senior analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. DC2 urges you to check this out. (And if you participate, please let us know how it goes!) The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is hosting an “Energy Education Data Jam,” which will take place on Thursday, March 27, 2014, from 9am to 4pm, in Washington D.C. This is an event that could really benefit from the participation of some more talented developers, data folks, and designers.

Features presentations from a great set of experts and innovators: Aneesh Chopra, former White House CTO; Dr. Ed Dieterle, Gates Foundation; Dr. Jan DeWaters, Clarkson University; Dr. Cindy Moss, Discovery Education; Diane Tucker, Wilson Center

In the growing ecosystem of energy-related data jams and hackathons, this one will be distinct in that it is targeted toward improving the general understanding of the basics of energy in the U.S., which we have identified as a key obstacle to sensible long-term progress in energy.  We hope that what emerges from this data jam will be applicable to learners of any age – from preschool to adult learners.

EERE is working to amplify our approach to help improve energy understanding, knowledge, and decision-making. To address the measured gap in America's energy literacy, we plan to unite energy experts with the software, visualization, and development communities. This single-day event will bring developers and topic experts together with the goal of creating innovative products and partnerships to directly address energy literacy going forward.

The goal of the data jam is to catalyze development of tools, visualizations, and activities to improve energy literacy by bringing together:

•         Developers and designers who understand the problems presented by the energy literacy gap, and have a desire to bring about change

•         Educators with knowledge of how students learn, how energy is taught, and ideas about how we can bridge the energy literacy gap

•         Energy experts with a high-level understanding of the energy economy and who are capable of deconstructing complicated energy data

•         Energy foundations and nonprofits committed to clean energy and an understanding that education can be the first step towards a clean energy economy

No prior experience in energy education is required – just an innovative mindset and a readiness to try to change the thinking on spreading the word about energy.

If you have any questions or would like to RSVP, please send an email to energyliteracy@ee.doe.gov. You can also RSVP through Eventbrite. This event will strive for participation from a number of different backgrounds and expertise and, as such, space will be limited.  We ask that you kindly respond as soon as possible. Lunch will be provided.

Smithsonian American Art Museum Hackathon Day 1!

luce-foundation_small At around 8am on a chilly Saturday morning, the Smithsonian American Art Museum opened it's doors early for a special group. A group that decided this weekend they would get together and help the Art Museum modernize the digital face of the it's Luce Foundation Center (http://americanart.si.edu/luce/).

The group consisted of developers, cartographers, user experience specialists, engineers, strategists, White House fellows, game developers and more. I don't know about you, but that is one good looking group!

The Smithsonian team worked hard to get an API up and running that we could use to access the entire collections of the American Art Museum. For now, that api is private, and well, that made us feel pretty special. :) . I would like to give credit to that team now (with contact info to follow in the second post):

  • Sarah Allen- Presidential Innovation Fellow and Smithsonian Institution
  • Bridget Callahan-Luce Foundation Center Coordinator, Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Georgina Goodlander- Deputy Chief, Media and Technology, Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • Diego Mayer-  Presidential Innovation Fellow and Smithsonian Institution
  • Jason Shen- Presidential Innovation Fellow and Smithsonian Institution
  • Ching-Hsien Wang- Supervisory IT Specialist, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution
  • Andrew Gunther- IT Specialist, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution and volunteer at the Smithsonian Transcription Center
  • Deron Burba - Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution
  • George Bowman- IT Specialist, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution
  • Rich Brassell- Contractor, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Smithsonian Institution
  • Eryn Starun-  Assistant General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution

Day 1

Day 1 started with a general overview of expectations (thank you Georgina), and a fantastic tour of the Luce Foundation Center provided by Bridget. The tour was a walking, talking, invigorating ideation session. As we strolled through the incredible pieces in the collection, questions posed led to note writing, Ipad jotting and inquisitive “I have an idea” looks.

After about 2 hours, we head back down to the MacMillan Education Center to prepare for an all out hackathon session ending at 11pm. We receive our mission to create an elevator pitch of our idea by 4pm Sunday afternoon, and get to work.

Teams were organically created as we all huddled together and started building our prototypes. There was an exhilarating buzz in the room, an energy that can only be found in hackathons. This is enhanced by the fact that we aren't receiving monetary prizes, job promotions, or some kind of national acclaim.

We are here because we believe in bringing a better user experience for visitors of the Luce Foundation Center and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. We are here to help an institution that really belongs to the people of this nation.  Okay, that's enough “tooting our own horn," but it had to be done.

During our "brainwork" and lunch-eating, we were given a great overview of the API, with some sample use cases and instructions. The Smithsonian’s technology team was extremely helpful and stayed with the hackathon the whole time to ensure everyone was able to access resources correctly. They even gave us a very nice web-based “hackpad” where we could all post questions, share thoughts and keep track of our work.

There were small brain-breaks were groups broke out to work on other projects and remove themselves from their work to get a little extra stimulation so they could look at their ideas with a fresh mind. Thank you Erie Meyer for that. Erie works for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy,  (http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp).  That's a pretty cool gig.

White paper with post-its, colored makers, sketches, flow diagrams and the like were lined up across the wall. If you just stopped and looked around, you could see the brain power that room encapsulated.


As the evening hours neared, pizza came and the “idea-ting” continued. I must admit I left a little early to handle some non-hacking work, so I look forward to checking in with my team, and getting back to you all on Hackathon Day 2. I will be writing about  final results, photos, videos and some general commentary from my fellow hackathon crew.

If you want to check out other resources before the second post of the hackathon, feel free to peruse these useful links:

Stay tuned for Day 2 and final results!

Signing off


Americas Datafest Immigration Hackathon



Immigration Hackathon

Join Americas Datafest in a multi-city immigration hackathon this November 2-3 at 1776!  We will be focused on migration in the Americas with a goal of:

  • Contributing to the immigration debate in the US by analyzing and visualizing public data.
  • Building apps, websites, and other tools for migrants and nonprofits that study human migration in the Americas.

The hackathon is an opportunity to showcase your skills and contribute to an important cause while having fun.  The event is also a chance to meet and connect with like-minded people.

Participants can follow our list of challenges, or of course work on their own ideas. Projects will focus on issues that are local, national, or regional.

The hackathon will take place in over 20 cities and 13 countries. Our local event in DC is sponsored by Intridea and will take place at 1776. Online participation is also an option for those who live outside the DC area and can’t travel. Please see the event’s page for more details and signup here.

We all look forward to hacking with you on November 2nd!

Contact Us

TeresaBouzaIf you have any questions you can send an email to Teresa Bouza, lead organizer of the event at: teresabouza@datafest.net