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WeGov

How Civic Hackathons Everywhere Can Learn from Latin America

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, March 12 2014

Hackers at Desarrollando America Latina (DAL) (credit: Buenos Aires Data/flickr)

Look at what the public or social sector in any major city is doing to leverage new technologies and you’re likely to find an abundance of unfinished and unused civic applications. Such graveyards of software applications are an unfortunate byproduct of of the app contests and hackathons that forward-thinking cities like to promote. Latin America has as many as any other part of the world, but it also has the Desarrollando America Latina (DAL) network. DAL is experimenting with new models for generating technology solutions to social problems. Efforts in other parts of the world - from New York to Nairobi - should study their lessons learned.

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WeGov

In Ottawa, Open Data App Competition Mysteriously Disappears

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, December 4 2013

Traffic jam (Flickr/MSVG)

Shortly after the city of Ottawa released their new smartphone traffic navigation app in mid-November, the negative reviews started to pour in: users reported bugs logging in and bemoaned a lack of features. It was a disappointing product all around, but especially so when one considered that it cost the city roughly $95,000. Then the Ottawa Citizen revealed that the city had considered sponsoring an open data competition, but ultimately chose to give the massive contract to a Toronto company.

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WeGov

India Launches Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 13 2013

On Thursday August 8 the Indian government launched an open data portal with more than 3,500 data sets from 49 different government offices. The website, Data Portal India (data.gov.in), has been compared to similar websites launched by the US in 2009 and the UK in 2010. Read More

WeGov

In Kenya, Apps Fizzle Out After Winning Competitions

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 11 2013

Nairobi (Sam Stearman/Wikipedia)

This spring, Kenyan tech blogger Kennedy Kachwanya left the regional Microsoft Imagine Cup competition thoroughly underwhelmed by the quality of the apps presented. He then wrote an impassioned post (in his words, a rant) on his website Kachwanya.com about the decline of the Kenyan mobile app. He is also outraged because even winning apps seem to fall off the map – basically fail – after the competition is over and media coverage dies down.

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WeGov

To App Contest or Not App Contest

BY David Eaves | Thursday, November 15 2012

Ever since the City of Washington DC did Apps for Democracy there have been a running series of skirmishes — that from time to time bubble up into a larger debate — about whether or not app contests, or even hackathons in general, are worthwhile endeavor. I've never been a huge fan of app competitions, but I do think there exist a set of specific conditions under which they can make sense. Ultimately, everything rests on your goal. What do you want to achieve? Read More