Guest post by Tim Moreland, Open Chattanooga

Hackers, your city needs you.

Midsized cities like Chattanooga face a variety of challenges. From under-performing schools to violent crimes to threats toward our beloved natural and cultural resources, there is plenty of work to be done. Civic hackers are uniquely qualified to turn these challenges into opportunities through the power of information technologies.

The term hacker is often misinterpreted by the general public due to depictions in popular media, so you may be thinking, “I’m not a civic hacker.” Well, “civic hackers” are engineers, technologists, civil servants, scientists, designers, artists, educators, students, entrepreneurs, community members — anybody, really — who is willing to collaborate with others and create open-source solutions using publicly released data, code and technology to solve challenges in their neighborhoods, cities, states and country.

Open Chattanooga, a local group of civic hackers, is organizing a hack-a-thon as part of the broader National Day of Civic Hacking. The National Day of Civic Hacking (NDoCH) is the largest-ever national convening of civic hackers and will provide a forum for hackers to tackle pertinent community issues. The first annual National Day of Civic Hacking will take place in communities across America (including the White House) on June 1 -2.

Here in Chattanooga, the event will be held at the Library’s 4th floor.  We plan to showcase civic hackers and demonstrate how essential they are to a vibrant community, just like any neighborhood cleanup or watch group. During the hack-a-thon, a variety of high-value government data sets will be opened up for use by participants. After the event, this data will be available to the public.

We have some great sponsors and prizes in the works, so be on the lookout for more information in the coming weeks. To participate, you don’t have to be an expert in technology — but you do have to care about your community. You can learn more and register to attend at https://hackforchange.org/open-chattanooga-hack-thon.

This hack-a-thon will unite our city around innovation and civic engagement. But we can’t do it without you. We need your help. Join us and help us hack for change in Chattanooga.