A website that would pool community resources for veterans and their families.
An app that would pair local employers with people looking for project or “gig” work.
A mobile-responsive site that would connect the homeless with food and shelter.
Those are just a few of the projects that 13 teams of nearly 50 people developed during a 24-hour Hackathon at Riverfest this past weekend.
The event was organized by Open Wichita, a civic hacking group that aims to solve community problems and increase government transparency through public information.
“In Wichita and across America, budgets are tight, people are frustrated, and everybody is asking, ‘What the heck can I do about it? Can I really make a difference?’ Yes, you can. And yes, you will. ... (This is) a growing national movement of people building stronger communities with technology, design and data,” Seamus Kraft, co-founder and executive director of the OpenGov Foundation, told participants. The Washington, D.C.-based foundation recently set up an office in Wichita.
“Don’t think of yourselves as civic hackers. Think of yourselves as civic superheroes.”
The top three teams selected by a panel of judges will meet with City Manager Robert Layton to discuss resources that the city may be able to provide to help the projects.
One of the biggest challenges is still overcoming the perception that all hacking is bad, said Mike Mayta, IT director for the city of Wichita and one of the judges at the Hackathon.
“These are the types of events that can help sway those perceptions,” he said.
Following are the top three ideas.
1. PAC WICHITA
Team members: Nic Gallo, Cody Harryman, Austin Harryman, Ramsey Jamoul, Philip Mathew, Janelle King
Idea: A Pac-Man-inspired game that organizations and event planners can use for events or getting people to physically go to locations.
The game uses the GPS locations of players to track them while they collect “fruit pellets,” which could be anything from collecting trash to doing a scavenger hunt. The game can be modified for any organization in any city, Gallo said.
It could be used for events like Final Friday downtown to encourage people to go to different places or for the NCAA tournament in 2018.
The game promotes teamwork, community awareness and physical fitness, Gallo said.
2. EasyAR (Easy Accident Reporting)
Team members: Seth Jackson, Robin Jacobs, Shailu Jale, Kyle Jones, Mike Shiferaw, Phillip Wiemeyer
Idea: For non-injury car accidents with less than $1,000 in damage, people could use an app to report the accident to the police.
Currently, people can self-report accidents only by trekking to a police station or QuikTrip and filling out a lengthy form.
“It’s prone to human error and to human frustration,” Jacobs said.
“We’re going to streamline that process. You can use your phone from the scene of an accident, take a few pictures, enter some information, and you can go about your day.”
The app would allow people to use photos of bar codes on the back of driver’s licenses to automatically fill out parts of the form.
It would also include a publicly available map of self-reported accidents so people know areas to avoid, as well as contact information for authorities.
3. SOC in a Box
Team members: Alexander Ferenc, Devin Crumrine
Idea: Using an Uber model, the app would connect IT security professionals with local businesses that need help.
“IT security is becoming a very hot issue, with things like ransomware and other types of e-crime,” Crumrine said. “Local companies unfortunately don’t have the money it takes to hire full-time IT security professionals … which makes them easy targets.”
Companies and IT security professionals, who are vetted, would both register for free. The cost for services would be $10 an hour, and the money would go toward a scholarship fund for certifications in IT security.
“Wichita as a whole would be a community of more secure companies and have a better-educated workforce,” Crumrine said.