City of Houston
Open Innovation Hackathon

May 31 - June 1

Houston Technology Center

(enter the idea challenge)
What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is a collaborative event where software developers come together for an extended worksession. This hackathon is 24 hours long, followed by presentations.

This is our second City of Houston hackathon. You can watch a short video of the first hackathon here.

This hackathon is Houston's contribution to Code for America's National Day of Civic Hacking. Definitely take a moment to learn more about this awesome organization.

Why is open data important?

Using publicly accessible data, software developers can build applications that improve the quality of life for Houston's citizens.

In Houston, open data has led to a data visualization of the general fund, as well as a data visualization of 311 service requests. Both projects got their start at hackathons.

Publishing non-critical datasets allows the City of Houston to harness the power of our talented technology community.

So how does this work?

Don't worry if this is your first hackathon!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is a collaborative event where software developers come together for an extended worksession. It's for the good guys.

Where's the data?

The Houston Open Data Portal is temporarily housed by Open Houston. You can access the site here.

I don't code. Can I still participate?

Yes! There is a role for graphic and web designers, marketers, PR people, writers, and more. If you're not sure what you can work on, just ask us. We're happy to help.

I have a project idea. Who do I talk to?

Feel free to contact us directly. If you're with the City of Houston, we'll help you put together a team. If you're a citizen, we'll help connect you to the right people.

I'm in high school. Can I still participate?

Yes! We encourage high school participants. Some of our best teams have been made up of high school students. If you are under 18, please make sure you have your parents' permission to participate.

Do I have to form a team in advance?

No! There will be plenty of people who are looking to form teams. Come to our happy hour on Friday, May 30 to meet potential teammates. Details to follow shortly.

Do I have to pick a sample project?

No! You can work on whatever you want. But if you pick one of our sample projects, we'll match you up with a City stakeholder who can provide guidance.

How do I "claim" my project?

We're using for project management. This is where you will submit your final project, and where the judges will review your work, so be sure to register.

How much does the hackathon cost?

It's free! We're providing food and drink for 24 hours while y'all get to work. Many thanks to our sponsors for making this happen.

Will there be prizes?

Yes! Check back here for more details.

Who owns the work?

If you build your code from scratch, you own your work. If you fork an existing open source solution, you must keep your work open source.

Sample Projects

Prices Paid

Prices Paid is an open source project from the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. The author, Robert Read, will be on site during the hackathon to help get it set up for the City of Houston. Requires knowledge of Python


Foodborne is an open source Rails app that scrapes Twitter for potential incidents of food poisioning, queues the tweet for a human to respond, and directs them to report the incident to the City's 311 department. Requires knowledge of Ruby on Rails.

Configure this Illinois-based application to function for Texas. helps folks with a juvenile record determine if they are eligible to petition for expungement, and get in contact with legal aid to complete the expungement process.

Business License Renewal Reminders

Build a website where businesses can track all their active permits and receive reminders when renewals are required, or when relevant ordinances change.

City Performance Dashboards

Use City financial and operational performance data to build performance dashboards.

Electric Vehicle Savings and Emission Calculator

Build a calculator to help people identify cost savings, ROI, and emissions reductions from using electric vehicles.

EV Charging Stations Map

Build an map to help locate any of the Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations in the Houston metro area, regardless of the manufacturer.

Annual Community Plan (Criminal Justice)

Build a "living" and community driven "Annual Community Plan" that crowdsources data and commentary, and provides data analysis/visualization in order to target public safety programs and interventions.

Houston Bike Map

Build a mobile-friendly map to help you find all Houston Bike Trails, Bike Lanes, Bike Share B-Cycle locations, Metro Bike Parking locations, and Bike shops. Everything bikes and Houston all in one place.

Houston Human Services with Aunt Bertha

Develop a site to highlight all human services functions and organizations in the Houston metro area. Partner with startup Aunt Bertha to document Houston organizations and provide an effective portal for Houstonians. Alternately, develop data analytics on Aunt Bertha data that would be useful to the City for management and development of human services programs.

Open Innovation Crowdsourcing App

Develop a site where citizens and the City can post ideas for improvements, with the ability for others to vote positively or negatively for the ideas and provide comments.

Restaurant Inspection Scores

Develop a way to show Houston restaurant inspection scores.

Special Events Street and Lane Closures App

Develop an App that displays up to date street and lane closures due to special events and other city related non-accidents.

Community Partners

Annise Parker
Ed Gonzalez
Code for America
January Advisors
Boniuk Foundation
Open Houston
Houston Technology Center
Rice Center for Civic Leadership
Platform Houston
START Houston
C2 Create
The Black Sheep Agency
Rails Girls Houston
Lean Startup Circle Houston
Houston Data Visualization Meetup
BBS Radio

Contact us