Celebrating Civic Hacks @ the White House

By Suzanne Philion, Senior Manager for PR/Policy Comms

We were so pleased to take part in the White House’s Open Government and Civic Hacking Champions of Change event on July 23. We joined a group of about 150 civic hackers, open gov enthusiasts, and tech industry representatives from around the United States to recognize extraordinary leaders who exemplify the best of public service in the digital age.

White House Champions of Change events feature individuals, businesses, and organizations who are doing extraordinary things to empower members of their communities. We had the opportunity to learn from these Champions about the innovative approaches they’ve developed to engage citizens in the practice of open government, civic participation, and civic hacking. The #WHChamps have launched a wide range of activities, from helping search and rescue teams better serve residents of the Rockaways following Hurricane Sandy, to resolving conflict in New Orleans, to mobilizing volunteers in the City of Austin.

Yahoo!’s Director of Open Source & Open Standards Gil Yehuda connects with open gov enthusiasts at the White House on July 23, 2013.

After the main event, Gil Yehuda, our Director of Open Source and Open Standards, and Sandra Jakob of the Yahoo! Developer Network, helped lead a workshop on “How to Leverage Tech Platforms for Civic Good.” Gil shared Yahoo!’s dedication to the open source space through our contributions to Apache Hadoop (an open source software framework that a former Yahoo! co-created back in 2005), the code we make available through our GitHub site, the frequent Hackathons we host around the world to engage local communities, and our partnership with Random Hacks of Kindness. Colleagues from a number of other tech companies — including Tumblr, Facebook, Google, Yelp, and GitHub — also shared how open gov activists can leverage their platforms to engage citizens.

The civic hacking movement is growing incredibly fast and holds so much potential. As one participant shared, “We need to break the ice online to do some great democracy in person.” We are excited to continue to work with these civic hackers to lend our tools and expertise to build innovative solutions for communities around the world.