Tech Diversity and a Hackathon

Hacking for our cities

Reposted by Aaron Christmas on Jan 07, 2017

Diversity in Tech: National Urban League Hackathon

Last weekend I participated in a National Urban League hackathon. The event was focused on tech diversity and had sponsors from the private sector like Facebook and NBC. I wanted to congratulate the winner and echo to an article about the event


It was great fun to build the project but more so to meet the people. I relished the opportunity to talk tech with what for me was a very unique crowd; not necessarily because of the diversity but more so because of the lack of federal IT talk. Despite coming in third I did actually leave the event inspired by the tech talent of today and tomorrow…

In fact, when I initially signed up for the event I did not realize that it was a hackathon. I thought I was going to a panel discussion about tech diversity. At said discussion I intended to tell the anecdotal story I see every day. That of a diverse federal IT workforce (contractor and FTE) unified by the power of tech-nerdom to both enjoy each other’s company but also mission focused solutions. I ended up reflecting on my workplace and feeling privileged to be a part of such a community that valued diversity. Honestly, I left that hackathon wanting to put my “I heart public sector” pin back on my backpack.

In terms of the app that that was built by Products of Our Environment, (Our Team Name). It’s in the rules of the hackathon that the code should go up on Git; so I will release that on my standard ynvmaxpowers account. I can’t do it yet though because I would like to talk to my partner first. So I will only do a cursory talk about the app. I know she wants to build the project out for profit and brand building. I know I have some plans on testing out some (Augmented Reality) AR libs.

Ultimately it will be a native web app type architecture. Per my usual about mid-way through the hackathon I was feeling confident and started to refactor, at about 1 in the morning I was cursing myself for backtracking so far. Not sure if the refactor ended up being worth it for the purposes of the pitch but it definitely will make the next demo version all the easier to make. For the picth I did what I thought was clever in that I made the demo use local persistence, and made randomized test data so each potential test user had a slightly different experience. The app uses everybody’s favorite GIS Data provider Google maps. It’s been a while since I used the google map api (have been using Microsoft) it was pretty cool and strait forward to get at the events and customize the map.