City hackathon touts open data, shuns footbags

Who says government can’t be responsive to its citizens? Cynics be damned and code monkeys take note: the Open-Data Day Hackathon is officially on.

The venue for this clash of intelligent people, obsessive-compulsive code nitpicking and social responsibility is, appropriately, the Edmonton Public Library’s new “Makerspace”, which it describes as “a creative digital hub that houses high-end computers and software, along with other incredibly technology and equipment.”

hackathongraphicThe date is Feb. 22, which is International Open-Data Day. Thus the name. No dust on this keyboard, eh?

So what, you may be asking by now, is a hackathon? Fans of bad action comedies may be picturing a bunch of dudes huddled in a van stealing open data packets from badly encrypted 56k baud modems whilst outwitting particularly dim, black-suited FBI agents.

Alas, though the possibilities would be hilarious, this is actually real-world stuff and hacking code in the positive sense refers to explore new avenues with it. A “hackathon” is a hack marathon: a roomful of people designing apps, games, new approaches to coding and the like.  In this case, it will be working with the city’s open-data sets. Additionally, the city will have a series of reps on hand to discuss role and the information available at .

The event only has 50 spots available and you can register though , which also has a calendar of the day’s events.

The cynic might ask, of course, why anyone thinks being “open” is something that governments see in their best interests. But it cuts both ways: it not only allows them to appear transparent , which is crucial to voter confidence, it also allows them  to subtly note that no voter can complain the information they needed in order to get involved wasn’t there.

So it’s good PR, and good for community engagement. Plus, you get to screw around on computers all afternoon. Wicked, eh?

For more info, head to