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Smart cities

2.3 How civic hacking helps our cities

Welcome to the world of civic hacking – a creative approach to solving civic problems.

On the weekend of 31 May and 1 June 2013 coders, designers and civic enthusiasts descended on Sacramento’s Hacker Lab for a National Day of Civic Hacking event – Hack for Sac. Over 11,000 people participated in a US National Day of Civic Hacking at 95 events across 38 states and 83 cities.

Now watch the following video which documents this hacking event.

Download this video clip.Video player: ou_futurelearn_smartcities_vid_1062.mp4
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Civic hacking helps our city by engaging people and by showing people what's possible. It provides for this meeting of the minds, and you never know which minds are going to walk through the door to participate for that day.
I worked inside government for 10 years, and I went in thinking I could change it from the inside. Took 10 years to figure out that that didn't work, so I've had thoughts and ideas about what I can do on the outside. And when I found Code for America and Code for Sacramento, it was amazing to see, like, OK, here's a way we can do it. I mean, local governments are actually engaging in this and are accepting it, and this is something that I can do.
And we can help build and grow our community through technology by the stuff we love to do, anyway, it seems like a really good fit.
Greenwise Joint Venture is interested in a civic hackathon, because we're trying to solve local economic development problems. And we think that by bringing in the regular community, who's already engaged, along with folks like developers, coders, and designers, we might be able to come up with creative solutions that no one's ever thought of before.
It matters like voting matters. We have our opinions, and we can go to the polls when it's voting season, and we can express those opinions, but that only happens once every so often, and it's for a brief moment, and there's a lot of structure. But with civic hacking, there really isn't a lot of structure. The sky's the limit. It's how creative can we be?
We are going to be begin to act, beginning today, to do whatever needs to be done.
Let's get on with the job.
Today, Greenwise Joint Venture has teamed up with the office of Mayor Kevin Johnson to pose a food-related challenge, as it pertains to local food. Eating local food is actually really sustainable. When we eat local, we're actually cutting down on our carbon footprint, because we're not driving all over the place to bring food here. And then local food is really tasty, and we're supporting local farmers and ranchers. So we hope that there's some sort of solution that can be built out of today's hackathon that could encourage people to eat more local food.
The project we're working on, we're calling it Localvores. And essentially what we're trying to do is get people who wouldn't necessarily go to the farmers' market to maybe be a little bit more adventurous. And so what we're doing is we're doing a challenge, and every week we're going to introduce a new either vegetable or fruit or something for people to go try. It's not necessarily geared towards people necessarily going to a farmers' market. Maybe people going to a local restaurant that's featuring that ingredient that's getting local-source produce, or trying the recipe at home. So we're really trying to get a wide array of people involved in eating locally.
So my project is called Street Farm, and it's actually a second step from start-up weekend. It was called Farm to Family. Basically it is a mobile produce social enterprise, and we would be buying produce from farmers at a discounted or wholesale rate and bringing it into communities with low access to fresh, affordable produce and selling it below the farmers' market rate. So the goal is by bringing either on bikes first, and then with a truck, you're eliminating many barriers to access, whether they be financial, transportational, or time barriers. If you just don't have the time, it's helpful if it comes to you.
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