Hackathon boosts digitizing city data to next step

An open data portal that will include information on real estate, transportation and city employees’ salaries will be available on the city of Charlotte website later in the summer.

The data portal is being designed by the Charlotte branch of Code for America, a technology-oriented, nonpartisan organization. Volunteers worked on a pilot version of the portal during a hackathon – a gathering of coders to work on a project – on June 7.

Twyla McDermott, corporate strategic technology planner for the city of Charlotte, said the group aims to have the open data portal online in August.

Jason Hunter, a member of the Code for Charlotte Brigade, said the portal is being designed to make public information more easily accessible. Now, people need to request the data in person.

“It’s information that’s already available to the public, but it’s a way to get that data that’s easier than going to a city hall,” Hunter said.

He said having the open data portal will make it easier for Code for Charlotte volunteers to create apps using the city’s data.

Hunter said coders could make a map of stoplights or an app that takes into account accident reports in the city.

The national nonprofit John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the city helped sponsor the hackathon.

Volunteers have already pitched four apps addressing local problems, including one that matches recently released convicts with jobs.

McDermott said volunteers will focus on creating the apps after the data portal goes live.