NIU to host National Day of Civic Hacking event June 6

Huskie HackUsing technology to solve real civic issues for local communities and organizations is the focus of NIU’s participation Saturday, June 6, in the National Day of Civic Hacking.

The Huskie Hack event, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Digital Convergence Lab of Founders Memorial Library, is open to anyone interested in a day of fun and learning experiences surrounded by like-minded people of all skill levels.

Potential participants, who need not know the meaning of a Github repository page or a pull request, can register online.

“Hackathons” are not an easy concept to communicate, said NIU graduate student Jacob Lawrence.

Major League Hacking, a national organization, describes hackathons as “weekend-long programming competitions where student hackers get together to show off their technical skills (and) build things like websites, applications or hardware hacks, and, at the end of the weekend, they show them off to the world.”

Cities and non-profits receive numerous benefits from hackathons because of the focus on solving local challenges. Community organizations such as schools, hospitals and local governments all have challenges with data and technology.

Consider the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Bird Treaty program and the challenge it’s calling “Twittering Birds.”

The prompt is simple: Mine social media (Twitter and Facebook APIs) for references to birds. Visualize and relate information to activities in Urban Bird Treaty cities and on urban wildlife refuges to measure engagement and program effectiveness.

The event is free. Sponsors will provide food, drinks and swag. For more information, email HuskieHack@gmail.com.

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