September 18th of every year is the National Day of Civic Hacking. Though the word ‘hacking’ might sound threatening or negative to you, this day reframes it into something rather positive.

It’s an annual event created by Code for America as a way to bring communities together and pool their coding skills to address a problem. If you’re wondering what this day is all about or how you can get involved, you’re in the right place.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about the National Day of Civic Hacking and how you can celebrate it.

What is national day of civic hacking?

As we mentioned, the National Day of Civic Hacking is an annual event that occurs on September 18th every year. It was created in collaboration by Code for America, the US Small Business Administration, and Secondmuse with the support of some federal agencies. It’s a great occasion for when citizens and governmental bodies can collaborate for the ‘greater good’.

Contrary to what you might think, the national day of civic hacking is about a whole lot more than coding. It’s about pooling together different skill-sets to bring out the most innovative solutions to community issues that draw on creativity, technology, and design. Most importantly, it’s about rethinking the role technology can play in our lives.

What is civic hacking?

In order to understand what a whole day of civic hacking is all about, you need to know what civic hacking actually entails.

As Code for America puts it ‘gone are the days when [civic hacking] meant building scripts in Excel, writing code and engineering app solutions’. So although it’s still about coding, its meaning has extended so that civic hacking now means approaching a problem with a ‘can-do’ attitude and creating innovative solutions, and drawing on the skills already available in your local community.

For example, last year’s National Day of Civic Hacking asked its participants to reimagine the 911 response system and think about how they could make it more ‘human centered’. The day produced 17 case studies, 16 data analysis projects, and 9 prototype projects.

History of national day of civic hacking

The National Day of Civic Hacking has been going since 2013. As the Code for America website proudly states, it has brought together civic leaders, public servants, designers, coders, and data scientists in collaboration with local community organizations to come up with some super innovative solutions.

How to celebrate national day of civic hacking?

You don’t necessarily need to actively participate in National Day of Civic Hacking to appreciate its mission and ethos. For those of us working in the IT and tech industries, it’s a good opportunity to simply think about how our unique skill set can be leveraged for the benefit of our community. But if you do want to do something in particular to mark the occasion, here are a few ideas:

Participate in a civic hacking event

The most apparent and perhaps rewarding way to get involved with the National Day of Civic Hacking is definitely to participate in a civic hacking event. All you need to do is find your local Code for America group and see what they’re planning to get up to.

Practice your coding

If you’d prefer to keep your celebrations more low-key, why not make some time to flex your coding skills and refresh your memory? Or why not carve out time for that side-project you’ve been thinking about but never gotten around to coding to life?

Donate your skills

In the spirit of National Day of Civic Hacking, why not donate your skills to teach someone else how to code or help a local organization out? This is a great way to enrich your own community with the skills you already possess.

Tell your colleagues about the national day of civic hacking

Don’t forget to tell your colleagues about the day, its mission and how to get involved. It’s also great to engage in conversations on social media and share different resources relating to civic hacking with your own circle.

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