Local solutions to local problems: Peshawar to host its first Civic Hackathon

Published: December 25, 2013
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During the two-day event, teams will brainstorm civic problems and come up with web, mobile, and SMS solutions. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS/FILE

During the two-day event, teams will brainstorm civic problems and come up with web, mobile, and SMS solutions. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS/FILE

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government announced Peshawar’s first ever Civic Hackathon – a weekend event to crowdsource solutions to civic issues, according to a press release issued.

The event is set to take place from January 31 to February 2. It is being organised by the K-P Information Technology Board (KPITB), in partnership with the World Bank, the Water and Sanitation Program, Peshawar 2.0, and Code for Pakistan.

The Civic Hackathon is part of a package of events and initiatives which the provincial government will organise to promote citizen engagement.

The Civic Hackathon is itself a growing global phenomenon. While it started as a theory of how to engage people with knowledge of technology to help and improve governance, it has expanded its scope to focus on changing the culture of government to work more effectively and creatively.

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These events draw a wide range of citizens, including civic-minded programmers, designers, data analysts, community organisers, creative thinkers, and other innovators. These individuals form teams, develop ideas and design prototypes over a 48-hour period to address common problems. The solutions can range from simple SMS-based notification systems to more complex applications for smartphones, and can cover topics like disaster relief, public health monitoring, crime reporting, neighbourhood amenities, public transportation, or traffic notifications.

As a result, the Civic Hackathon has spurred the creativity of citizens to address critical issues. Governments have moved towards engaging its citizens to find solutions to problems faced by them.

Mostly, civic hacking relies on open data and encourages the use of government-held information by citizens, activists and journalists.

“These are human problems; it’s not about the technology,” said founder of Code for Pakistan, Sheba Najmi while speaking to The Express Tribune. “That’s why we need both techies and non-techies to come together, research human problems and needs, and co-create solutions which meet those needs.”

For Peshawar, this will be the first civic hacking event, and will provide an opportunity for everyone to innovate in the public domain. During the two-day event, teams will brainstorm civic problems and come up with web, mobile, and SMS based solutions.

The event is free to participate in, although admission is by online application only.

The Civic Hackathon will be held at the University of Engineering and Technology and will offer a range of prizes for winning teams, including a six-month fellowship programme at KPITB.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • PTI
    Dec 25, 2013 - 2:44AM

    There are many more FIRST’s to come in KPK, just wait and watch. IK, one of those few persons in Pakistan who stands by his words.

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  • Khurram Awan
    Dec 25, 2013 - 3:48AM

    @PTI I have attended tons of events like these in Lahore. May be for KPK it is a new thing but you cannot say that PTI is the trendsetter or anything.
    PTI is just copying Plan9 and Business and Software incubator projects in Punjab which are going on for a longer time now and got international recognition as well.
    http://plan9.pitb.gov.pk/

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  • S Malik
    Dec 25, 2013 - 10:59AM

    Hackathons provide excellent opportunities to spare true talent from wanna be learners. All over the world, it enables tech companies hire the best in the business.

    A genuine hacker in most cases a well wielded coder also. Care must be taken to filter out script kiddy wanna bes.

    I have hired talent directly from such events in the past, however outside Pakistan. It is good to know such activities are taking place in this land too.

    Malik

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  • PTI
    Dec 25, 2013 - 4:01PM

    @Khurram so what? Did I compared KPK with Punjab or IK with shareef brothers? May I know that from where Punjab has copied these plans? Lol, grow up dude. It’s a global village , come out of this copying/blaming game like kids.

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  • Feb 2, 2014 - 1:23PM

    Was a great event. Especially for students to interact with latest govt and market issues. They had a great time with mentors from govt. offices. Loved to join the event.

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