Hosting a hackathon? Here’s how to market it!

Hackathons are exciting events that bring communities together, drive innovation, inspire action and are an exhilarating experience. If you haven’t participated in one, give it a try. They are an excellent opportunity to directly contribute to a cause you care about.

Our President @gndv starting off the 2016 #VODDay #OpenDataDay Hackathon

A photo posted by Open Data Society of BC (@opendatabc) on

Some hackathons are competition focused – full of budding entrepreneurs with ideas to flush out and prototype. Others are focused on social good – tackling local or global problems, or bringing transparency to important issues through storytelling and data visualizations.

Hackathons are often run by hardworking volunteers, nonprofits, or on the side of your local “do-gooder’s” desk. As a result, hackathon organizers  may not always have as much capacity as they would like to create a rockstar hackathon. But what they lack in capacity they make up for in passion. I also believe that if you’ve organized a hackathon and haven’t suffered (at least a little), you probably haven’t done it right – just like a good work out.

It’s my appreciation for these hardworking hackathon coordinators that draws me to lend a hand to local hackathons and provide advice based on my experience. I find effectively marketing their hackathon is an area where many need the most help. Continue reading Hosting a hackathon? Here’s how to market it!

What should a BC Developer’s Exchange look like?

When DataBC asked for my help in reaching Vancouver’s local open data, development and startup community to host the first BC Developer’s Exchange information session, I was thrilled to have the Open Data Society of BC host this event and bring a great group together to provide input on this new program.

BC Developers Exchange OpenDataBC Event

The BC Developer’s Exchange is focused on creating an “exchange” between BC’s public and tech sectors – creating a path for entrepreneurs to use BC public sector digital resources and to have their innovations adopted back by government.

How to commercialize and build services products from open data (or other publicly available resources) is a complex topic with varying opinions – and it needs the ideas, experience and input of the BC’s tech and startup communities more than ever.

Not all open data will hold commercial value from a business context – many data sets’ greatest value are in addressing social issues and providing opportunities to improve transparency, efficiency and data-driven decision making. But where there may be opportunities for commercial value and new business models through access to public sector data, lets explore the possibilities thoroughly!

The OpenDataBC BCDev event in Vancouver at the Hive was held in April and over 100 members of the local Vancouver open data, developers and startup community came out and shared their ideas on what’s needed to make this Developer’s Exchange work. Among the panel that started the discussion was Mischa Steiner-Jovic, founder and CEO of Awesense, and Adam LaFrance, co-founder & CEO of Knomos. Together, they shared their insight as startups using public sector data.

The new BC Developer’s Exchange and Province of BC GitHub accounts, and the opportunities the Github methodology offers for public sector resources generated a considerable amount of interest, with many participants agreeing that the BC Developer’s Exchange GitHub is a good place to provide input.

Events were also held by Accelerate Okanagan, BCTIA, Viatech at and the new Code for Canada (Vancouver Community).

The BC Developer’s Exchange needs the local tech and startup community to test out the “exchange” and provide ideas and feedback on how this program can work. There’s a variety of ways you can provide your input and see what’s already happening:

Whether you are skeptical, uncertain, curious or already using some of the resources, I hope you’ll take the time to learn a little more and provide your input on what a BC Developer’s Exchange should include.

BC Health Service Locator iPhone App

Need to find a health service in BC? Use the BC Health Service Locator!

This is with out a doubt one of the best and most meaningful projects I’ve worked on as a public servant.

The BC Health Service Locator is an iPhone app that helps citizens find walk in clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, immunization locations, and after-hours pharmacies near you. You can search for health services by city or keyword.

This video demos its functionality. It’s also my first debut as a hand model 😉

Continue reading BC Health Service Locator iPhone App