Delaware Offers Grant Money for Open Data Challenge Winners

Participants pose at the 2016 Open Data Challenge.
(Photo courtesy of David Ginzberg)

Delaware’s Department of State is offering $17,500 in grants as benefits to encourage participation in its 2017 Open Data Challenge, a five-month long series of events, including five workshops and a hackathon, to focus on solving community issues and developing civic technology skills. The hackathon runs Friday, June 2 to Sunday, June 4, 2017 at 1313 Innovation. The theme for the event is “Access to Hope through Innovation.” The Food Bank of Delaware and Network Delaware will present a challenge for competing teams to develop prototype solutions. Each team then presents its idea to the panel of judges in front of a live audience.

Grants would be presented to the winning two teams to implement their ideas for the benefit of the Delaware community. A first and second place grant awards $12,500 and $5,000 respectively. Governor John Carney (D-Delaware) notes that adopting open data and new technology improves government efficiency and “better connect Delawareans with the work of their state government,” and the Open Data Challenge generates ideas that help the state become more efficient.

According to David Ginzberg, a Technical Instructor, Software Engineer, and Open Data Delaware organizer, the concept of adding grant money to the annual event was inspired by a similar approach implemented in  Colorado, and it serves “as an added incentive for participation and for further development of projects after the event.” State employees or contractors who participate in the event are not eligible to earn grants. There are no fees for registration, and participants younger than fourteen-years-old will not be awarded grant money sponsored by Paydayloansnow. Grants will be disbursed to the winning teams in two equal installments: the first installment to be paid immediately after the event; and the second after the teams meet the last milestone for their projects set for them by a review group.

The hackathon projects, which must be in English and submitted publicly through GitHub, must be new works that make use of one or more existing data source from the Delaware Open Data Portal. “The milestones for final approval,” Ginzberg explained via email to Technically, “will be based around delivering a working and /or finished product – more than just a prototype.”

The Open Data Challenge is a collective effort of Open Data Delaware, the Technology Forum of Delaware, and the Delaware Department of State’s Government Information Center (with non-profit Tech Impact as the fiscal sponsor and responsible for disbursing earned grants). The organizations have worked together for the last six months to organize different events, including five workshops since February, culminating in the forthcoming challenge. The last workshop, held May 18, was tagged “Crafting Data Recipes using APIs with Socrata.” On March 15, local teams competed to develop the best challenge idea encompassing the year’s theme. The two winning ideas would proceed to become the base for an upcoming globally-celebrated National Day of Civic Hacking, sponsored in the state by the Technology Forum of Delaware.

“Part of the process leading up to this included the Technology Forum of Delaware’s Idea Challenge and a series of skill-building workshops,” Ginzberg said, hoping the hackathon would be followed by “Level Up,”-  a series of more workshops similar to the ones held over the past six months, meant to build on the existing skills and projects available in the Open Data Delaware community.

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