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.
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.