2020 National Day of Civic Hacking (NDOCH) Theme Selection

We know that communities across the country face similar struggles including poverty, food insecurity, and access to housing. We also know that as a Network of over 80 chapters across the country, we have the power to make a measurable impact when we come together to work on a common issue. National Day of Civic Hacking, taking place on September 12, 2020, is a day of action where Brigades can coalesce their power into actions to make this impact. First, we have to identify the areas that the Network can fulfill our potential to make such an impact. The 2020 National Day of Civic Hacking committee was tasked with identifying this area. We started by looking at where the Network has already focused our collective power so far this year.

The Network has responded to the COVID-19 Pandemic in force, with Brigade members stepping up in our communities to offer their skills in response to the crisis we face. In particular, we’ve worked with local partners and created projects to help families find food during the pandemic, help nurses report needs in their hospitals, and track the status of healthcare providers during disaster. We feel that it’s important for the Network to continue to maximize our impact in response to COVID-19, in particular the work we’ve done in the social safety net. For this reason, the National Day of Civic Hacking Committee recommends that the National Day of Civic Hacking theme be Rapid Response and the Social Safety Net.

The theme selection for this year followed a number of intentional steps to conduct a broad, clear, and transparent process.

The Network Decided on Four Priority Action Areas

At the end of 2019, The Code for America Network embarked on a process to identify four priority action areas. Priority Action Areas are four project areas where the Network feels we can have outsized impact in 2020. It is where we will focus shared projects and resources via our distributed Brigades across the country, making it possible for projects to impact several places at once. It was also decided that the theme for 2020 National Day of Civic Hacking would come from one of the four chosen Priority Action Areas. You can read more about Priority Action Areas and how the areas were decided here.

The National Day of Civic Hacking Committee was Created

One of the main responsibilities of the NDoCH Committee is to narrow down and decide on the theme for this year’s National Day of Civic Hacking. In order to form the NDoCH committee, a call went out to Brigade members in the beginning of April, asking for Brigade members to sign up to be a part of the NDoCH committee. The committee members were chosen by the National Advisory Council and Code for America Network team based on diversity of Brigade geography, size, and the answers applicants gave to the question “Describe your interest in being on the NDoCH Committee.”

A few members of the NDoCH Committee (top row from right to left: Mark Davis, Diana Varnes, Carlos Moreno; bottom row from right to left: Ben Trevino, Kelli Shewmaker, Alex Merritt)

The National Day of Civic Hacking Committee Narrowed Down a Theme

Before commencing, the NDoCH committee reviewed a number of resources and feedback to help inform their decision making. This included the 2019 NDoCH Brigade Leader Survey Responses, reviewing the National Day of Civic Hacking Retro at Brigade Congres, and Slack Feedback given in the #ndoch-day-of-hacking channel.

To select a theme, first, the committee chose which Priority Action Area they thought the NDoCH theme should come within. Next, the committee will start thinking about possible actions within that Priority Action Area and seek input from the Network. Considerations should be made around ability for Brigades of varying sizes and structures to participate, partnership opportunities, and excitement from the Network.

Next Steps

Now that a theme is selected, the committee will focus on resources to Brigade leaders for their NDoCH events. Considerations will be made around Brigade sizes, partnership considerations, and planning for remote events. Keep up to date with the committee’s work by following along with our agenda and notes.

We want your input!

In the Covid-19 response and social safety net, what actions do you want your Brigade to take on September 12? Some ideas include:

  • Storytelling project for how COVID-19 has affected your community
  • Redeploying a project that has come out of the Network’s COVID-19 response
  • Partnering with a local food bank or social safety net service to assist them with needs like website creation, journey mapping, providing technical assistance, etc.
  • Learn more about and help your local school(s) apply for FCC Form 470 in order to help close the digital divide for communities.

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We will be providing resources to Brigade leaders in the form of a toolkit, similar to the 2019 NDoCH Toolkit. The toolkit will include guidance around hosting a remote event, help creating a social media strategy, tips for fundraising for your Brigade around NDoCH, and guidance around the specific steps we will be taking. Let us know your thoughts, ideas, and needs below!

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A possible resource/context setter from the “Datasmart” initiative at Harvard University. Several non-US examples of various tech responses to COVID-19 (from April 2nd, but still seems relevant) https://datasmart.ash.harvard.edu/news/article/using-data-and-tech-fight-coronavirus