OpenSMC | About | What is Civic Hacking?

What is Civic Hacking?

At OpenSMC, we often refer to what we do as “civic hacking”. In its most basic sense, civic hacking means finding creative solutions for civic problems. We often focus on the technical side of things, but that is by no means our only approach.

For example, a low-tech civic hack could involve walking around a neighborhood with a clipboard to collect and share data not tracked by the city. Civic hackers often work with the local government and/or community organizations.

For a more in-depth introduction to civic hacking, check out this chapter in Josh Tauberer’s Open Government Data: The Book. Or read this blog post from Code for America.

What is open data?

Here is a full explanation from the Open Data Handbook.

Tl;dr definition from that handbook: “Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.”

What is Code for America?

According to their site, “Code for America is a national nonprofit that believes government can work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century. We organize a network of people who build technology to further local governments’ priorities of creating healthy, prosperous, and safe communities.”

OpenSMC is a brigade (i.e., a volunteer-run chapter) of Code for America.