Executive Summary

In June of 2016 the NYC Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation helped the NYC Parks Department put on their second-ever Data Jam (data-based hackathon) for the National Day of Civic Hacking. The event drew nearly 200 New Yorkers for a two-part event:

  • Open Data Portal Workshop (27 participants)
  • Hackathon (144 participants)

The Parks Department presented five challenges at the hackathon; sourced from their agency staff and nonprofit partners. A the end of the event 23 projects were presented and as of this writing the Parks Department is following up with five groups to help support Parks’ and other agencies’ operations and new initiatives as it relates to street trees.

Coming out of this engagement, where the NYC Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation had been advising the Parks Department for ten months, it was decided to take the learnings from this experience and put it into a guide about hackathons for all NYC agencies. While a hackathon can seem like an easy engagement to pull off, the devil is in the details. Great hackathons have had time and energy put into them beforehand to create well-crafted themes and challenges that enable great results from participants.

This resource is meant to provide your agency with an overview of what a hackathon is, and guidance on how to think about producing a hackathon for your City agency.

Our team at the NYC Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation is happy to advise your agency in this process as well. Feel free to send any questions about hackathons or this resource guide to cto@cto.nyc.gov.