On Saturday, September 10th, 2016, Launch League hosted their first ever Civic Hackathon: Hack N’ Akron. Akron’s own software engineering company, WasteBits, offered up their newly renovated office space, setting the tone of problem solving with a cool, modern twist.
The event was launched by a welcome speech by Mayor Daniel Horrigan, as he expressed his passion for civic engagement in Akron. The teams were then assigned and dispersed to begin 12 hours of problem solving and solution design. The teams worked tirelessly as the hours ticked away. The space filled with white boards and Red Bull as ideas turned into plans, plans turned into executable concepts, and concepts morphed into actual deliverables presented to the City at the end of the day.
The HackNAkron Hackathon brought together 50 Akron professionals, including developers, graphic designers, marketers, neighborhood leaders, and representative from the City. Each professional was placed on a team based on experience and skill set, and then those teams were assigned a particular project with the goal of creating tangible and executable solutions to two civic problems facing the Akron community.
WHAT PROJECTS DID THEY HACK?
The two projects, hand selected by the Mayor’s Office and Launch League, included an open data platform and an Akron neighborhood re-branding effort.
For the open data project, tech community leaders worked as a team to build a single, cohesive database where all the numerous charts and tables of data held by The City of Akron can be standardized and made easily accessible.
The goal of this project is to make Akron information easier to access and understand to allow for quick decisions in areas including, real estate, development and use of public spaces, just to name a few. It is the hope of the City of Akron that once this data can be managed in a universal way, companies and organizations will better be able to maximize the resources Akron has to offer, driving commerce and community development.
As the tech team drove the open data project, the creatives in the room were assigned to the task of creating a cohesive brand for the City of Akron. The goal was to create a colorful concept where each neighborhood could have a platform to display their individual history while still reflecting a unified image of Akron.
Graphic designers from Goodyear and Geometry Global worked alongside community developers, brand managers and community historians to uncover and illustrate the history and cultural significance of each neighborhood.
These historical icons were incorporated into a branding campaign as well as a website illustrating each neighborhood and where they fit within the Akron community.
The branded website also serves as a hub for all of the unique sights, attractions and ‘hidden gems,’ so users can discover the bits and pieces of Akron members of the community love so much.
The project was limited to Goodyear Heights and Highlands Square due to the 12-hour time constriction. However, with the help of future hackathons and community support, it is intended that the style guides and websites created will be adopted and completed as a valuable tool for tourists and community members alike.
SO WHY A CIVIC HACKATHON?
Akron is on the verge of greatness, and Launch League is working to build the bridge between the professional networks and community resources.
Akron Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Annie McFadden stated at the conclusion of the final presentations, “These are projects that we would never be able to do ourselves, whether that be due to a lack of time, money or resources.”
Launch League was able to work with the City of Akron to successfully identify common civic issues ahead of the actual event. This allowed for maximum preparation and to create projects that were realistically doable in a 12 hour timeframe.
By recruiting exceptional talent and professional leaders, Launch League brought these communities together to work toward a common goal to create meaningful results. Sponsored by the Burton D Morgan Foundation, Wastebits, Rubber City Clothing, Control Alt Development, The OSC Tech Lab, and United Way of Summit County, this first Hack N’ Akron event shows how just how powerful cross-community collaboration can be.
Courtney Gras, Launch League Executive Director, explains:
“As a backbone organization for entrepreneurship in Akron, Launch League seeks to build bridges between community members and organizations. The Civic Hackathon is one example of Launch League’s mission in action: by connecting the talent pool in Akron to Local Government, we have a built new pathways for communication and collaboration in our community. This is a big step forward in building a vibrant, growing startup community in Akron while also providing relevant, saleable solutions to real problems in our City.”
Having delivered the beginning of two successful projects, with the support of the city developers, there is no doubt that Launch League will continue making a statement with their meaningful and engaging civic events.
Special thanks to the Hack N’ Akron Planning Committee: Dan Nelson (DXY), Byron Delpinal (Coffee and Code), Courtney Gras (Launch League), Nick Petroski (OSC Tech Lab)!
What do you think about the Launch League Hack N’ Akron event? Tweet us your thoughts at @LaunchLeague