Hack for Seattle Projects

by J. Nathan Matias, photos by Brian Glanz


Seattle Hack 4 Change was an amazing day of making at the Seattle City hall as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. Across the country, communities came together to imagine, design, and prototype technologies to make their communities better. I just moved to Seattle a week ago as part of my internship in the area; the National Day of Civic Hacking offered an unusual opportunity to serve my summer community in a way that usually isn't possible without years of residence.

Saturday's event was attended by a diverse range of community members. Some came with needs, like the animal shelter that orgnanized makers to help find homes for cats that might otherwise be euthanized. Some worked towards ongoing projects, like the team from Open Street Maps who added new building and address information to their map system. Some companies enhanced their products to serve the public better by adding automated access to city data. Others brought new project ideas, like the SeattleMonkeys team (which I was on), who built a voice-based community feedback campaign. Everyone brought their curiosity and passions to imagine ways to design for the public good.

Hack for Seattle also included around 40 students from MESA, a youth science engineering program that has supported minority youth in Washington for almost 40 years. Students created paper prototypes and in some cases working apps to address the needs of young people in schools. We were all inspired by their enthusiasm and creativity.

Here is a list of projects created during Seattle's Hack4Change event:

MESA Student Projects

Hackathon Projects

MESA Student Projects

(photos withheld until we can get verify permission from MESA)


Martha Ambriz, Melissa Centeno, Jorge Garcia

  • CompletED is a paper prototype for an app that helps middle school students track their classes, see assignment deadlines, contact others, see their grades, and access motivational quotes.
  • It needs to be made into an app
  • We made paper prototypes, and tried to use MIT App Inventor, which they used for the very first time.
  • We're MESA students from Mariner High School
  • We're seniors, and there are so many things to do. Having something simple would really help.
  • What are our secret superpowers? I can stop time. I'm very fast. I have super focus

Let's Help

Steven, Gabriel, April, Soulynda

  • Let's Help is a paper prototype for a test preparation app for English, Math, and other topics, with rewards, color themes, and RPG characters: the Bot tells you about tasks. The Ghost tells you about tasks you missed. Sunshine is a scientist who helps you take notes. The Monk helps you set goals.
  • What does it need next? It needs to be made into an app
  • How did you make it? We made it with paper prototypes
  • We're MESA students
  • I can grow large white wings. Quickness. I can look into the future and watch the fourth season of Game of Thrones. I can steal other people's superpowers


by Earl Scales and Torrin Todd

  • An "elevator" which helps new high school students learn and prepare for what they need to Play, Learn, Achieve, and Yearn. Students need a way to organize their high school life without it being stressful. "This would be a dependable resource that you could come back to in a time of need."
  • What does it need next? It needs to be made into an app
  • It's a prototype in App Inventor
  • Tacoma Washington, Henry Foss High School
  • What inspired you? If we could use an app like this, you could know what you need for high school
  • What's your secret superpower/ Invisibility. Super Strength

N.E.D.S Classified School Survival Guide

Linh Le, Zaynab Abdelzaher, Jasmine Smith, Treavus Seawright

  • Paper prototype for an app that helps students manage projects. Keep notes in your lab notebook, with templates to help you know how to start with notes. Include photos from your Facebook page into your notes. Take notes with the Notecards feature and organize them as you prepare for tests.
  • Next, it needs to be made into an app
  • How did you make it? Prototype designs in powerpoint
  • MESA students
  • What inspired you? Our teacher asked us to do this project.
  • What's your secret superpower? Food. I am very creative. The power of eyeballs. I can run very fast.

Student Lifesaver (MESA award winner)

Jose, Ramon, Alex

  • A working prototype app for school, that shows your online friends, a homework buddy, people in your block, private notes, and access to resources like Sparknotes.
  • Next, it needs to be uploaded so that people can download it.
  • We made it with App Inventor

Hack Day Projects

Personal Power Picker

Rob Dolin, and the designer Andrew Maier

  • In many places, renewable energy is actually cheaper. This website, which they worked on at previous hackdays, prompts users to select zipcode, price stability, and then shows the greenest, cheapest choices for their area. Then, you can click to start the process of switching to another power option.
  • Today, we created wireframes to create a compelling design.
  • Next, we're going to update the site with the new wireframes.

Open Street Maps

Jeff Meyer, Clifford Snow, Michael Patrick, Ashley Caroline

  • www.openstreetmap.org
  • wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Seattle_Import
  • www.cugos.org
  • We imported buildings and addresses to Open Street Maps using JSOM data from the city of Seattle


Andrés Monroy Hernandez, Nathan Matias, Gilberto Stankiewicz, Elijah Rotholtz, Matt Loar, and Alex Swan

  • What would make our neighborhoods, our commutes, and our city a better place?
    1. Put posters up in your neighborhood.
    2. People record public feedback
    3. Audio gets posted to SoundCloud, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter
  • It works right now on SeattleMonkeys.com
    1. SeattleMonkeys on Facebook
    2. @SeattleMonkeys
    3. soundcloud.com/seattlemonkeys


Will Scott, Hao Liu, Ronit Banga, Nishant Alva

  • Subscribe to events in your neighborhood, drawing from event data in Socrata and Seattle Open Data. Choose on a map what neighborhoods you're interested in. Then receive SMS and email notifications about things in your area that are happening nearby.
  • It needs to be developed further before launch. It could also use access to realtime mobile information
  • We used OpenStreetMap for the frontend, Google for sign in, and a python backend for the webserver

Hurry Out

Andy Albani

  • We pulled event data from King County and Seattle public data and imported it into HurryOut.com (these events)
  • To do this, we used the Socrata API, parsed the CSV file with Python, and imported it into HurryOut nightly, with an approval process

Here It Is Parks (a)

Justin Burns, Jeff Records, Zhu Zhu Xiao, Joe Lotz, Quentin King, Glen Kriekenbeck

  • Using phones to report assets in public parks like accessibility ramps, water fountains, and other public information
  • We learned how to use Crowdmap, access Socrata, and share data into a server. The new beta of Crowdmap doesn't quite do everything. We're now heading to Jigsaw Renaissance to work on this further
  • Next, we need to come up with ways to present this data

Open Street Maps Community VM

Michael Patrick

  • A cloud-based virtual machine for launching Open Street Maps servers. People argue all the time about tags for local items. There are lots of editors and lots of organizations that have their own way of storing this information. This project is a technology design that would allow communities to easily launch their own Open Street Maps server.
  • For now, it's an architecture idea
  • Tomorrow at Jigsaw Renaissance, we're going to try to start implementing it