Last weekend was the National Day of Civic Hacking, a two-day event that brought together technologists and subject matter experts “to create tools that make our city better.” I participated in the hackathon organized by TechnicallyPhilly.com and the City of Philadelphia at Drexel’s ExCITe Center.
I worked on a Code for Philly project with Chris Alfano and Jim Connor. We addressed the problem of the lack of a central source for information about after school and summer programs. There are a number of databases that compile information about out-of-school-time (OST) programs, but the information is not current. The demand for such programs will increase in the wake of the “doomsday” school budget recently approved by the School Reform Commission.
There’s no money and in nearly half of Philly households, no Internet access. So many parents and students will try to find out what’s going on at their local library or Keyspot public computer center. While Internet access is free, users are not free to sit there as long as it takes to find a suitable program.
So we built a mobile web app that empowers parents and students to quickly access current information about after school and summer programs.
Users are able to search for programs by grade level, season (summer or year-round) and subject. What’s Going On is at the intersection of technology, education and civic engagement. The public is invited to submit a program. We will verify the information before adding the program to our community wiki, Wikidelphia.
An asset map of OST programs in Philadelphia,
What’s Going On won first place. The project can serve as a national model for how developers, advocates, parents and community members can collaborate to expand access to programs that promote year-round learning and engagement.
FATE is changing the fate of underrepresented minorities by connecting the best STEM ideas to schools and students. And their ideas work. One of FATE’s students, Zora Ball, is the youngest computer programmer in the country.
At the First Anniversary FATE Bootstrap Expo, Philadelphia Deputy Mayor & Managing Director Richard Negrin gave keynote remarks.
Negrin said technology is key:
I love technology. I love innovation. But it’s not technology for technology’s sake. It’s empowering. It changes lives.
Negrin noted that 54 percent of Philly households do not have broadband Internet access at home. They live in “digital deserts” disconnected from the innovation economy and trapped in poverty:
Technology can break the cycle of poverty. Technology can empower all our children. It catapults their learning and thinking. That’s how we get out of this crisis in the education system.
Negrin observed that it is important to connect the dots on how STEM matters in students’ day-to-day lives. But we can’t show them what’s possible because no one knows what the future holds. Instead, we must show students the way, teach them the skills, and free their minds.
Istanbul will host a daylong series of events, culminating in the International Jazz Day Global Concert, which will be streamed live on YouTube starting at 2:00 p.m. ET. The concert will feature an all-star lineup, including Herbie Hancock, George Duke, Ramsey Lewis, Eddie Palmieri, Esperanza Spalding, Al Jarreau, Dianne Reeves, Joss Stone and Terence Blanchard.
The first premise is bringing folks together. Then it’s about representing the musical legacy of Philadelphia on the highest level possible because there’s some incredible musicians here and some incredible musicians who come from here.
Philadelphia is a very soulful, passionate city, and the music that comes from the city is the same. It has this unique attitude, and there’s an intellectual side and a spiritual side to it. There’s so much talent and so much music that comes this people and people need to hear it.
Hear, hear. At next month’s Music Hack Day, my team will develop a mobile app to tell the story of Philadelphia’s jazz and blues legacy. We will map landmarks such as the John Coltrane House, historic markers and murals.