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Civic Hacking: Ways To Mine Data For Miami's Good

Miami civic hackers from various backgrounds played with government data all weekend long.

Credit Stefania Ferro
More than 200 coders, designers and onlookers participated in this weekend's National Day Of Civic Hacking in Miami.

More than 200 coders, designers and onlookers hashed out ideas on how to better use open data from federal and county sources as part of Miami's National Day of Civic Hacking.

Participants can submit their projects by June 30 for the chance to share their ideas at a White House event in the fall.

Select proposals from around the nation will be presented in an exhibit called "The Art of Civic Hacking," says Richard Bookman, one of the organizers of Hack for Change: Miami.

Below are some of the ideas that were brainstormed during the two-day civic hackathon. Most of these apps and websites are a work-in-progress:

Is It Flooding?

As the name implies, this a mobile website that finds your location and tells you very simply if it’s flooding or not in your area with a yes or no answer.

Bryce Kerley, software engineer and one of the project developers, used rainfall data from the National Weather Service and FEMA Flood Zone designations from Miami-Dade to assess if locations are in deep water. Developers can tweak the project on GitHub.

My H2O

As part of the EPA Safe Drinking Water App Challenge, this app shows reported problems with local water supply based on your zip code.

Katherine Martin, one of the project’s team members, says the app will also share possible health effects contaminants can have on the body.

SkyWarn Mobile Reporter

This tool builds on the National Weather Service’s Skywarn storm spotters. Spotters can identify nearby hazardous weather by logging them through the app.

Andrew Heller, founder of local IT firm Yucaroo, says the program would allow users to see other reported activity in the area.


Credit Stefania Ferro
Gustavo Rearte, 28, presents CityHub, a community tool that uses Miami's 311 data to improve government response times to neighborhood concerns.

This app interacts with locals and reports issues for the county as part of Miami-Dade’s Challenge For An Improved 311 Answer Center app. The tool would provide community members a way to report neighborhood concerns, like pets found, and allow them to see the status of each activity on a detailed map.

Javier Carabeo, one of the team members in the project, says the app would improve response time and help raise community standards.


This is a text-messaging program for Miami-Dade public transportation. Locals can send a text with a bus number and bus stop to receive the next three stop times for that route plus alternative routes.

Aleyda K. Mejia, director for the Caplow Children’s Prize, says this system is beneficial for people who do not own smartphones and can’t use the county app available.


This gives a personal touch to U.S. Census data. Based on your location and answers to some questions, the tool provides a sharable infographic with interesting facts about you in relation to your county’s Census data.

Dimitry Chamy, one of the project’s developers, says this app matches your demography with your geography.

Florida Bill Tracker

This website would highlight the progress of state bills through the House and Senate.

Rob Davis, one of the project’s team members, wants the site to explain bills that Florida media outlets have not covered.

Farm Markets

As a project for the Farmers Market Directory & Local and Regional Food Systems challenge, this app locates nearby farmer’s markets with details on products using Bing Maps.

Robert Hellestrae, a Windows 8 developer who worked on the project, designed the app for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

Safe Biking

Brian Lemmerman, a board member of the Magic City Bicycle Collective, is working on obtaining bicycle-to-automobile accident data from Miami-Dade County to pinpoint safe and dangerous areas for cyclists.

If data is available, this mobile app would determine bike-friendly areas of Miami, start conversations to make riding safer, identify accident-prone areas and share the quality of the commute with the cycling community.

Credit Stefania Ferro
Civic hackathon participants can submit projects by June 30 for a chance to attend a White House event in the fall.

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