Read below, then join us!
Launchpad is Code for Philly’s annual month-long hackathon where we aim to bring together community stakeholders, domain experts (non-profit leaders, city officials, researchers, etc), and our technical community to kickstart cross-functional project teams working to solve civic challenges with data, design, and technology.
Every once in a while it’s a good idea to step back and take a look at why you’re here. With Phundamentals, we’re aiming to do just that.
As the theme for this year’s Launchpad, Code for Philly’s annual month-long hackathon, we’re using Phundamentals as an opportunity to remind ourselves of the question that all civic technologists set out to answer: how can we continue to use the incredible technology at our disposal for our collective empowerment?
Phundamentals combines that foundational question with two more focused thoughts: in this modern world we live in, what should be considered vital to the success of all Philadelphians - say, our 21st century basic needs - and how can we better use our technology as the bridges between us and them?
See, for all of this incredible technology, there’s so much more that can be done to advance equitable access to its abilities in ways that can maximize the potential of ourselves and our neighbors.
When I think of those fundamental basic needs that Philadelphians share, I err on the side of plurality. These can include how we experience education, digital access and literacy, healthcare, criminal justice, the staples - food, water, shelter - and many more. All of these can stand to benefit from modern solutions in how we experience them, and this perspective reflects the motivation of Phundamentals and the conversations and solutions we hope to start.
Because, at times, the challenges that stand between the average Philadelphian and the information and services they need to thrive today are not complicated.
From a technical standpoint, anyone who has worked in software development for a moment can realize that many of the most common deficiencies of our shared civic technology are not for lack of technical capacity.
Relative to its potential, there is still an astounding amount of inequity between how technology is created and how its applied to our general benefit. Anyone who has has experienced both the public and private sector of technology knows this. They also know that the equitable application of today’s technology could improve our collective well-being when directed towards public, shared needs.
Areas with potential for improvement still continue to include needs as obvious as digital accessibility and ensuring easier access to services or resources through means as simple as usable forms, or responsive web pages — two examples of common tech shortcomings that are inexcusable in the private realm.
In contrast, we’re still in need of inventive and original tech solutions to civic challenges as well. Many times technology isn’t a limiting factor there, either.
Often, what we need most are opportunities to organize around shared motivation and an impetus to work on focused projects.
Throughout the years, our community of selfless, talented volunteers and their projects have been a testament to the possibility of what happens when we come together to tackle our common challenges, and by working with, not for, those we serve. Phundamentals aims to organize again, brainstorming opportunities and forming project teams around ways that we can continue to provide better access to the needs of Philadelphians. Those that they can benefit from most, those which can help them thrive today.
That’s what Phundamentals is about. Thinking hard about how we can use these tools, and our talented volunteers, to connect Philadelphians to what will make them stronger.
We hope that you come out and share in any way you see fit — if not to help with a project then to socialize with our community of caring Philadelphians, recommend a project idea, or voice your perspective on the ways we can further help Philadelphians attain access to that which will help them thrive. Because when we all do better, we all do better.
So some tips and tricks for Launchad 2019: Phundamentals
- Keep in mind, Phundamentals seeks to serve reimagined basic needs in 2019 - but this allows for a pretty big tent. If you’re a non-profit or community organization, you probably serve a basic need, and we’d love to include you in this conversation!
- Anyone can bring forward a project idea. Projects are generally open source*, not-for-profit, and benefit the public. (*The code will be public except under certain circumstances, like information sensitivity.)
- Interestingly, when working in civic technology long enough you learn that the code is often not the hardest part. Professionals and participants of all talents are welcome! Developers are always encouraged to come out, but successful projects require skill diversity. To name a few: Project leads/managers, researchers, data professionals, organizers, advocates, communicators, designers, you!
I hope to see you there,
About Launchpad 2019
Code for Philly’s Launchpad 2019 is a month-long community initiative to launch public, open source, and multi-disciplinary projects. Evolving from weekend hackathons, Launchpad provides the resources, setting, and framework for diverse teams and individuals who want to make a positive impact. We welcome anyone who wants to engage with fellow citizens and local government. The best teams bring together a diverse set of talents and experiences.
A full description of Launchpad, including a schedule of events, sponsors, and eventually a project list, can be found here.
About Code for Philly
All Code for Philly projects must be public servicing and not-for-profit. In addition, projects must use an open source or creative commons license - so that other volunteers can benefit from your efforts and keep the torch of civic engagement alive.
New to Code for Philly? Find out more about us here: https://codeforphilly.org/
All attendees are expected to follow the Code for Philly Code of Conduct; which can be found at the following link: https://codeforphilly.org/pages/codeofconduct/