Like nearly everywhere in Europe, Belgium is undergoing a crisis of trust between citizens and their legitimate institutions. Brussels, in particular, is having a bad year. This feeds on news both real and fake, leaving citizens disoriented and ever more mistrustful.
We believe we, ordinary citizens, can help. We wish to help by using data, open data in particular, to investigate problems for ourselves, and share our results with our fellow citizens so that they can be replicated and cristicized. No need to trust fake news when you can go straight to the source yourself!
We wish to organise a small event called a civic hackathon. Everybody interested in a civic use of data and data science is welcome, without exception and with no skill requirements. It’s about gathering under one roof to work with data with a civic purpose in mind. It could be anything: applications tracking parliament activities; crunching and visualisation of societally relevant datasets; dreaming up infographics that would make a complex issue more accessible, and so on.
We envision two steps. In step 1, we gather together for a few hours to hash out some possible projects to develop in the hackathon proper: we make sure each project has the data it needs and a skeletal crew with all the skills to pull it off. In step 2, two weeks or so later, we take one or two full days to actually develop projects. The results of the different projects are presented to the whole group at the end of step 2. All code is released as open source. Processed data are published as open data wherever the license of the primary data allows it.
Absolutely everyone is welcome. All you need to take part in a civic hackathon is a passion for all things civic. Every skill is needed. Among them (but there are others) are: software development, statistics, math, journalism, law, design, communication, storytelling. Female and minority participants (however you want to define “minority”) are particularly welcome.