Code for Philly regularly organizes signature hackathons as a way to build up the community, bring in new members, get data released and generate project ideas. We host 3 or 4 signature hackathons per year. The weekend-long event combines subject matter experts, civic technologists and open data to solve civic issues around a common theme.

Most hackathons involve collaborative rapid prototyping efforts. At the end of the weekend teams present their proposed solution. Solutions vary from low fidelity sketches to high-fidelity working prototypes or fully realized apps. Regardless, the focus is on highlighting and proposing potential solutions to civic issues.

Read below for upcoming events and a quick primer to Code for Philly signature hackathons.


Upcoming Hackathons:


Previous Hackathons:


Hackathon FAQ

What is a hackathon?

Simply put, and as the name might suggest, hackathons are hacking marathons. This means that we get together for a weekend to create new projects from the ideation stage to functional (or at least semi-functional) prototypes. It’s also a great excuse to eat food, drink lots of coffee, hang out with friends and meet new people. Friday night begins with a happy hour to socialize a bit and come up with a few project ideas based on problem statements and/or available data. Project ideas are posted along the walls and every attendee gets a number of “upvote” stickers to stick to their favorites as they mingle through the projects. On Saturday morning we hit the ground running with teams self-selecting around favored project ideas from the night before. Teams then have until Sunday afternoon to prototype a solution and put together a brief presentation to present to a panel of expert judges. The judges challenge teams to defend their ideas and award available prizes to the most fitting projects, but everyone is encouraged to continue their civic hacking efforts at the weekly Code for Philly hack nights.

Who should come/what if I’m not a coder?

If you’re passionate about Philadelphia, if you think you can help make it more sustainable, and if you believe in the power of code to facilitate change, you should come! Civic hacking and hackathons benefit from participants of all types of backgrounds and levels of expertise. Technologists with advanced, professional skills can take the lead in project design and development. Intermediate and beginners take on tasks that support their learning and contribute to project advancement. Even those with no technological skills at all can play vital roles in researching, designing, and launching projects. Subject-matter experts are essential to the quality, sustainability, and scalability of a project. Content experts and partner organizations contribute extensive, nuanced knowledge of the subject matter; they help guide and structure a project so that it tackles key needs, creating the greatest possible impact.