National Day of Civic Hacking


Innovate Raleigh, AT&T, and NC Open Pass Partner to Identify First Responders Civic Technology Solutions

The discussion began with 15 minutes of individual brainstorming around what works well and what doesn’t work well while communicating between agencies and with the community. Bill Scanlon, the design thinking session facilitator, asked the participants to put items on post-it notes and place them on a speedboat diagram. 

The group reviewed each post-it note and looked for commonalities. The post-it notes were combined into broad problem statements. 

Next, each participant got three votes to rank the broad problem statements. Potential solutions for the top two problem statements were listed. Finally, those solutions were ranked for the level of difficulty and level of importance. 

Some specific solutions that came up in the discussion include building an umbrella system that can be a hub for data sharing between agencies, finding a way for all agencies to use the same radio template to communicate, build a mechanism to allow for continuity of information when on scene (for example - sharing notes between all responders on the scene), and creating an Alexa skill to help agencies send out public messaging around emergencies.
The top problem statements were presented to a group of civic technologists at Open Raleigh’s National Day of Civic Hacking meetup. The National Day of Civic Hacking is a national, coordinated effort bringing together urbanists, civic hackers, government staff, developers, designers, and community organizers to make their community better. Efland Fire Department Assistant Chief Pete Hallenbeck gave the participants a demonstration of current applications that are used by his agency. 

After that demonstration, the group split into two teams and started to develop potential applications. One team is creating a web application that will assist fire department personnel with creating pre-plans of sites. They essentially are PDF files that indicate where specific elements are, such as the location of doors, windows, gas shut off, storage of any hazardous materials, etc. A member of the fire department visits commercial sites to create the pre-plan which is then stored for later reference. The other team is creating an open inventory form which can allow firefighters to use any internet-connected device to check the truck inventory. If something is missing, an email would automatically be sent to the contact person assigned to that department. They also would have access to a log with date and timestamps when the item was last seen in inventory and who checked it. This inventory form will help the departments keep track of expensive equipment, which is particularly important for departments already working with very tight budgets.
The problem statements (and detailed notes and pictures) will be shared again at the Saturday hackathon at NC Open Pass Civic Camp on Sept. 22. Teams formed during the Civic Camp hackathon will begin a seven-week design sprint to build a scalable startup and will pitch their project at the NC Open Pass DataPalooza on Nov. 8. The winner will be included in the 2018 Innovate Raleigh Summit event programming the following day.

Innovate Raleigh