Pakistan witnessed its first Civic Hackathon this weekend in Karachi on April 6th and 7th, 2013 at The Second Floor (T2F). The Hackathon was a two day event facilitated by Sheba Najmi organized in collaboration with P@SHA, Pring and T2F.
The philosophy behind a Civic Hackathon is simply to join hands as responsible citizens to find solutions to the existing civic problems. The aim is to ensure that civic hackers will continue building open source solutions that will enable governments to be more efficient and open to the actual needs of citizens and the community at large.
The Hackathon kicked off on Saturday morning with Sheba Najmi introducing herself and the event partners – Jehan Ara (President, P@SHA), Sabeen Mahmud (Director,T2F) and Mohammad Nawaz (Pring). The participants witnessed some interesting workshops, demos and an exciting brainstorming exercise during the day.
Najmi enlightened the audiences about the Code for America and how the citizens have been helping to tackle civic problems in America, which she feels could be positively replicated in Pakistan as well. She also shared demos of civic apps from the Code for America projects.
Next up Patrick Fitzgerald gave a demo of the Sindh Education Mapping portal that he has been working on in alliance with the government of Sindh, Pakistan. This was followed by a quick but comprehensive workshop on Data Analysis by Jawwad Farid (CEO, Alchemy Technologies).
After the lunch break Sabeen Mahmud and Jehan Ara conducted an exciting brainstorming session with the participants to identify some of the key ‘Problem Areas’ of our cities. It was interesting to see the energy levels of the audiences during the brainstorming activity. After the brainstorming session, Sheba Najmi conducted a User Experience (UX) workshop where she explained how design can solve specific problem areas. The Pring team also presented a demo of their SMS based ‘Raven Api’ to the audiences.
In the concluding half Jehan Ara and Sabeen Mahmud stepped in again and involved the participants to define ‘Problem Statements’ of the previously identified ‘Problem Areas’. The participants then casted their votes on selecting the problem statements on which they would want to work on Day 2 of the Hackathon.
Day 1 concluded with the formation of 9 teams with members having cross-functional skills who would create solutions on their chosen problem area.
Civic Hackathon Karachi Day 2 was an exciting day where all the teams had less than a day to hack for a cause and come up with workable solutions for the existing civic problems. The hacking began early morning and continued till the evening after which the teams presented their demo apps to a panel of judges. The Pring team mentored the teams during the day.
9 extremely enthusiastic teams presented 10 app demos as summarized below:
The panel of judges comprised of Farzal Dojki (CEO, NextGenI and P@SHA CEC Member), Imran Moinuddin (CEO,NexDegree), Sabeen Mahmud, Shahjahan Chaudhary (CEO, Teamants and P@SHA Social Innovation jury member) and Sheba Najmi who gave their feedback to the participants.
Commenting on Pakistan’s first Civic Hackathon, Sheba Najmi said, “Absolutely inspirational energy of collaboration, doing, problem-solving, and camaraderie. An enormous thank you to all who applied, participated, volunteered, organized, sponsored, judged, and helped show what’s possible.”
Speaking on this initiative, Sabeen Mahmud said, “It was inspirational being around such awesome people this weekend. The spirit of collaboration, cooperation, and camaraderie was amazing. Thank you all for being part of Civic Hackathon Karachi Part I. We’ve got a good thing going. Let’s keep it alive.”
President P@SHA, Jehan Ara said, “Truly proud that P@SHA was a partner with Sheba Najmi and T2F in this initiative. Let us keep it up so that we can continue to find solutions to our own problems and help guide our government. Congratulations to all those who were involved and who inspired us through their ideas and their work. Thanks also to Pring for sponsoring such a useful event.”
Civic Hackathon Karachi was a huge success as it brought together software developers, designers, urban mappers, data analysts, domain experts and other individuals belonging to various areas of our social system to reboot local services using web and mobile technology. The food sponsor of the event was Pring while P@SHA and T2F partnered together in organizing the first Civic Hackathon in Karachi.
Najmi introduced the Code for Pakistan as a step forward. Future developments of the same will be discussed on a Facebook group – CivicHackathonKhi.