3 Ways to Join the Open Data Movement in Delaware

There’s a growing open data movement in Delaware. Governor Markell signed an open data directive, our Meetup group continues to gain traction, and more local politicians are embracing it. Day by day, more information is being shared, making it easier for people to connect with their communities. Perhaps we’re a biased source, but we think this is extremely important for Delaware.

Why is this important for Delaware? It’s simple. Open data (and the related civic tech) places the keys to the kingdom into the hands of the people. You have the opportunity to make decisions with data (like where to walk). You get to build tech that meets your community needs (like our friends at Code for Philly). You have the chance to work with your government to make the world a better place (like speedier snow removal).

Want to get involved? Great, and welcome to the fold! Final question: How do you actually get involved? Jumping into something new can be overwhelming, especially if you’re unfamiliar with it. Here are three ways you can get involved with the open data community in Delaware.

  1. Pick an issue that you’re passionate about
    There has to be at least one issue that you’re passionate about. It could be education, location of potholes, government spending, the nearest farmers market, or whatever! Think about what data you would need to quickly access that information. Brainstorm project ideas that you could accomplish with that data. Maybe it’ll help people to make informed decisions, find ways to cut excessive expenditures, or fill your belly with delicious, locally made food. Ask your local representatives about making it easier to get that information. They love to hear from you! And they won’t know what you need unless you tell them.

  2. Get involved with the community
    As the name suggests, Open Data Delaware is an open community. Everyone is welcome, regardless of skill level or background. Oftentimes, being a beginner is an asset! Beginners bring fresh ideas. You say you’re not a software programmer or a designer or an expert on government? No problem. There is still a place for you. Most months, we host two events - one speaker and one hack night. Attending a speaker event is a great way to dive into the community. It gives you the chance to sit back and learn without much of a barrier. Our speakers are always willing to answer questions. Hack nights are a great opportunity to learn new skills in a welcoming environment, and we make them as accessible as possible. Sometimes we feature techniques that are helpful when working with open data (like mapping or APIs), and sometimes these events are just meant for working on open data projects. Either way, there are opportunities for beginners and experts alike to build cool projects. In fact, there’s a Hack Night coming up in the next two weeks.

  3. Go to DataWorks
    Sometimes, the best way to get involved is jumping in feet first. In the tech world, one of the best ways to meet the community is to attend a hackathon. On Saturday, June 4th, Open Data Delaware is hosting DataWorks, which will be part of the National Day of Civic Hacking (#NDoCH). Hackathons are a great way to build new skills, collaborate, and (most importantly) learn. They work best when a diverse group of people participate – so you should definitely be there. You’ll work with others to solve problems, and help make Delaware a better place for businesses to grow. We think this is a big deal. If you’re interested, the best way to join is to simply show up.

Written on May 10, 2016 by Ryan Harrington