Our Civic Engagement Launchpad officially kicks off tomorrow with Brainstorming Night at City Hall. Have you already RSVP’d for our Friday and Saturday events? Submitted your civic tech project idea? Great! Then you’re ready for the nitty gritty details of when, where, and how you’ll crush this civic hacking thing.

What to do before you attend

Sign up for the Code for Philly Slack

We at Code for Philly tend to communicate through slack a lot. It’s a convenient (FREE) channel to communicate outside of in-person meetups. Inside Slack, we’ll have a Launchpad2018 channel for communicating about this event. Each project will create their own channel to communicate in, even if, as you begin to work together and get to know each other, your main communication method shifts.

To create an account:

  • Sign up for an account on CodeforPhilly.org.
  • Log into your account on Codeforphilly.org.
  • Click the Chat with us on Slack button.
  • You’ll be redirected to the Slack sign-in page.
  • Just click the single sign-on button and you’re in!

For anyone new to Slack, here’s a helpful guide to some fun things you can do.

Get a Github account

One of the Code for Philly Project Guidelines is that every Code for Philly project needs to be Open Source. This means the source code needs to be available for people to see and access that aren’t working on the project. Github is where these files will be stored. Even if you’re not coding the backend, you should be able to access the files for your project. If you’re going to be recruiting for new project members, they’ll need to find these files.

What to Expect

Launchpad has four main parts of the event: Brainstorming Night Work Day Month of building Demo Night

Here’s what to expect for each of these components

Brainstorming Night

We’ll meet at City Hall’s Caucus Room to share ideas. This night is pretty social, with members of multiple communities coming together, not just technologists. It’s a really cool space, and we’re excited to be able to use it again this year. You can RSVP for Brainstorming Night on meetup.

Getting there: The guest entrance for City Hall is in the Northeast corner. It’s across the street from the Residence Inn. Once inside City Hall the guard can direct you, and we’ll have signs to help you get to the Caucus Room.

What you’ll be doing: Ideas and problem statements already submitted will be on boards for people to collaborate on. If you have an idea not yet submitted, please share it! All ideas are on a large sheet of paper, meaning you get to write responses, questions, thoughts, or concerns. We’ll provide stickers to upvote ideas that you think should be worked on, even if you don’t plan on working on it yourself.

You’ll also be able to talk to community members who aren’t technologists. These people are invaluable to giving insights for problems they know about in their neighborhood. Ask them questions, try to find ways that you know technology could help. You may even see some city council members stop by.

What to bring: Your ideas and problem solving skills.

What we’ll be doing: We’ll interrupt briefly for short talks. We don’t want to interrupt too much, so we’ll be brief. Tonight is all about collaborating on ideas and ideating on solutions.

We’ll also have some light snacks and drinks.

Work Day

This is the day we get to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We’ll be in the Innovation Lab in Philadelphia’s Municipal Services Building (MSB).

Getting there: MSB is across the street from City Hall. *Photo ID is required to enter MSB* It’s the building with the board game pieces out front. It’s up on the 16th floor, giving great views of City Hall. You’ll use the main entrance to check in with the front desk. Take the elevator up, and follow signs for the Innovation Lab. We’ll have signs here, too.

What you’ll be doing: You’ll be arriving early in the morning and checking in. You’ll get your t shirt and breakfast. We’re committed to helping project teams start off on the right footing. We’re really excited to once again have Eliza Pollack’s team from the Office of Innovation and Technology leading an Innovation Workshop. Once the programming has ended, projects will have the rest of the time to get to work.

Saturday Schedule

  • 9:00am Doors open
  • 9:00am to 9:45am Participant sign-in and light breakfast. This is when we recommend participants consider the project ideas that most interest them. We’ll have Friday night’s easels posted throughout the room.
  • 9:45am Opening remarks
  • 10:05am Team formation
  • 10:25am to 12:30pm Workshops led by the City’s Office of Innovation Management
  • 12:30pm Lunch is served
  • 1:30pm Open team work and hacking
  • 9pm - Doors close Note, teams are not required to stay until 9pm.

What to bring: Photo ID to get into the building. Your laptop, something to take notes, and energy. You’ll probably be tired at the end of the day, but the good tired after accomplishing something.

What we’ll doing: With the help of awesome sponsors, we’ll be providing food. We’ll also be available to help where needed. Important announcements will be shared through the #Launchpad2018 Slack channel.

Month of Building

This is less structured for now. We’ll be communicating with participants through the #Launchpad2018 Slack channel to schedule Launchpad only hack nights. These aren’t required, but offered to support as needed. We will also have website content to support projects, which we’ll share on Slack as well.

Our regular weekly schedule will continue during this month. Check out our Meetup page for weekly events. Project teams can use our Open House event to recruit new, needed talent to their project.

Project Demo Night

Time to show off your work! We’re so excited to see the culmination of collaboration.

Getting there: Demo Night this year will be at Harrisburg University.

What you’ll be doing: Showing off your work to a panel of distinguished local experts to get feedback on where to take this project. They’re not there to grade, but to offer insights to help your idea develop. You’ll also get to see the progress of all the participants.

What to bring: A slide show of your work. Depending on the space, we’ll let you know about anything additional.

What we’ll doing: We’ll make sure the panel will be comprised of people that will give helpful feedback. We’ll also provide food and drinks.

Further Questions

If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Reach out in the #Launchpad2018 Slack channel, tweet us @CodeForPhilly, or poke us in person at one of the events. We’re here to help your work.