National Day of Civic Hacking Recap!

On Saturday, June 4, 2016, 40+ Hawaii civic innovators participated in the 2016 National Day of Civic Hacking. We had a few special guests including:

  • Karen Higa from the State CIO’s office
  • Brian Black from The Civil Beat Law Center
  • Jennifer Brooks from Office of Information Practices
  • Hawaii State Librarian, Stacey Aldrich
  • Jan Nakamoto and Momi Fernandez from the US Census Bureau
  • Ben Trevino, COO of Bikeshare Hawaii

For National Day of Civic Hacking, we decided to focus on the following four projects that are important to our community:

  1. State Budget Visualization
  2. UIPA Record Request
  3. MakerHawaii
  4. Bikeshare Hawaii

In addition, members also worked on the following Code for America suggested projects:

  1. Challenge: Applying for Food Stamps
  2. Challenge: Applying for Affordable Housing
  3. Challenge: Honey, I’m home! (EPA)

Here’s what this amazing day looked like:

After a fun, 8-hours of civic hacking, we had each group present what they accomplished. Here’s a small recap of the teams and what everyone worked on.

National Day of Civic Hacking Results

State Budget Visualization

State Budget Visualization team
McKay, John, Jon, Jennifer, Krislin, Yukio, and Andrew

Led by McKay Davis and Jon Geyer in collaboration with Karen Higa, the team worked on a number of data visualizations related to the State budget. Check out what they worked on here!

If you’re into data viz, I would highly encourage you all to check out the amazing crossfilter, Sankey, treemap, wordmap, calendar, and graph database visualization of the State Budget.

As a disclaimer, data was sourced from and after doing a cursory review, the expenditures data appears to be incomplete.  We’re continuing to work with different Hawaii State stakeholders to establish which portions are missing and why.

Link to Github source code.

If you’re interested in javascript, data visualizations and the stories that can be told, please reach out to mckay[at]codeforhawaii[dot]org or jon[at]codeforhawaii[dot]org.

UIPA Record Requests

Russ, Brian, Ryan, and George
Russ, Brian, Ryan, and George

Led by Ryan Kanno in collaboration with Brian Black from the Civil Beat Law Center, the team worked on redeploying a version of Froide, a Freedom of Information Portal for the islands.

At the start of the day, there were 2 critical blockers and 24 issues that needed to be fixed before beta testing with users can begin. With a team of senior engineers, they got through 17 out of the 26 issues including the 2 critical blockers. Check out what they’re working on here.

Link to Github source code.

If you’re interested in python, Django, and FOI requests, please reach out to ryan[at]codeforhawaii[dot]org.


Makerhawaii team
Laura, Nicole, Russell, and Ryan

Led by Nicole Hori and Russell Vea in collaboration with Stacey Aldrich the State Librarian, the team worked on cleaning up data about various Makerspaces on island for the MakerHawaii website they’ve been working on as well as creating a fully functional Android application from scratch!

Link to Github source code for MakerHawaii website.

Link to Github source code for MakerHawaii Android application.

Check out the demo of the MakerHawaii Android application below.

If you’re interested in WordPress, maps, and Makerspaces, please reach out to russell[at]codeforhawaii[dot]org.

*Citizen Onboarding

Citizen Onboarding team
Joe and Sara

Led by Sara Kanno, the team tackled two Code for America Citizen Onboarding challenges as well as filling out the digital census. They went through and deconstructed the following two State websites:

  1. Subsidized Housing
  2. Food Stamp Application

Watch their Citizen Onboarding presentation:

If you’re interested in helping finish these Citizen Onboarding projects, please reach out to sara[at]kanno[dot]io.

*Honey, I’m Home

003-NDOCH Teams

A one-man programming machine, Laurence Lee worked on the Code for America Honey, I’m Home! (EPA) Challenge and demoed a functional Android application that could take photos and let scientists identify bees. Like Ryan from the MakerHawaii team, Laurence crafted and deployed an Android application in less than 8 hours. Click here to check out a demo site!


The server-side is written in Ruby on Rails, and the mobile-client is Ionic2/Angular2/TypeScript.

Link to Github source code for Honey, I’m Home Challenge app

Bikeshare Hawaii

Led by Ben Trevino, we unfortunately missed a photo opportunity with the team as they had another engagement. Totally our fault! With that said, here’s an amazing photo of the team at work!

Bikeshare Hawaii team
Bikeshare Hawaii team

My sincerest apology if you were on a team and not featured in a picture. We took photos at the end of the day instead of at the start. Lesson learned!

Thank yous!

Putting on an event like this takes an entire village island, and I’d like to thank the following:

  • All the invited guests and participants for spending an entire Saturday with us
  • All the project leads for helping coordinate their projects
  • Russ Tokuyama, Ryan Tsukamoto, and Joseph Heaukulani for helping setup and ensure everyone got coffee / lunch!
  • Laurie Sumiye for not only spending the entire day documenting what we do here at Code for Hawaii, but also editing that wonderful video on top!
  • Our main sponsor, HTDC, who helped us secure the facilities, but more importantly, has always supported the “boots on the ground” local tech community here in Hawaii.

Without the efforts of everyone involved, this event would be nowhere near as successful as it was.


There were some wonderful insights gained from the hackathon this weekend.

  • If you give people an opportunity and a stage for meaningful work, they will never cease to amaze you. I was absolutely floored at the quality of the presentations and demos at the end of the day.  This may be a bit biased, but this definitely had the best presentation/demos of any hackathon on island.
  • Preparation of discrete project tasks prior to the event led to better outcomes. Historically, we’ve had a shotgun-like approach to projects that often spread our community too thin and led to more chit-chat than actual output. Giving people specific projects and tasks to work on led to quite the output.
  • Code for Hawaii has a lot to learn about what building this “community” really means. We can learn a lot from Dan O’Neil’s exit interview that states ‘We need a general agreement that we have to move from placing the alpha-geek at the center of our movement. We have to stop paying lip service to “build with, not for” and actually start implementing those principles into our work.’  I’m excited with where we’re going in Hawaii, but we’ve only just begun. Like the Civic Makers out in San Francisco, we need a better co-discovery process where we “discover with, not for” people in our community.

“We are still seeing way too many projects from well meaning professionals who do not understand the context for the problem space they’re working on. Waiting until after you have defined the problem to seek out users’ perspectives means your project team may be playing on the wrong field moving toward the wrong goal.”

– Susan Stuart Clark

If you had a great time at National Day of Civic Hacking and want to continue to improve our local communities and work with government to solve these problems, I’m hoping to see you at our next meetup.