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NYPL Labs: NYPL Labs Civic Data Hack Day

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February 7, 2015

NYPL Labs Civic Data Hack Day

NYPL Labs, in partnership with CivOmega and Tabula, is pleased to host a one-day civic data hack event!

People have talked about making civic data more accessible for a long time. If you can find data about the way your government and local organizations operate, you can shed light on interesting patterns and stories and better engage with your community.  It’s all about transparency, accountability, and enabling change. It’s a beautiful concept. It’s wonderful for society.

In reality data is usually dirty and boring: If you're lucky, it's comes out as a bunch of numbers and rows and tables.  In many cases it is even worse, and the information is locked into opaque formats like pdf.  Either situation isn't very useful without a lot of laborious and technical prodding and exploration.  Democracy deserves better!

The NYPL Labs Civic Data Hack Day is about solving this problem.  Together, participants will be:

  • Working together to convert specific datasets to more open and usable formats.
  • Creating new ways for people to ask questions and get answers from open datasets.
  • Designing better interfaces to explore datasets.
  • Contributing to reusable tools that enable normal, non-technical human beings to learn something from data.

The event will mark the public launch of two brand new civic data tools: Tabula and CivOmega. Tabula is built to make data extraction for pdfs as simple as possible, and CivOmega makes it easy for technologists to convert a dataset into a civic "Mad Lib" that anybody can use to get answers.

Register now to reserve your spot and help shape the event!

Sponsors & Partners

This event is generously sponsored by Knight-Mozilla OpenNews and Sunlight Foundation.

Hacks/Hackers joins us as an event partner as well! Hacks/Hackers NYC brings people together at the intersection of journalism, design and technology to explore and advance what's possible in news and civic information. Join the Hacks/Hackers NYC meetup page to learn more: http://meetupnyc.hackshackers.com and follow @HacksHackersNYC on Twitter.


About our co-organizers

CivOmega is an attempt to give people with normal, human questions the ability to benefit from the data that so many have worked to expose. It makes it possible for a human to interact with an API in the same way they might interact with a waiter: by asking questions. Users can type in questions about the government and it attempts to provide answers.
 
Tabula is a tool that allows the extraction of data tables from text-based PDF files. Tabula attempts to automatically detect tables within PDF files with computer vision. Everyday users can extract data in a graphical interface and developers can also use a command-line interface and API. 

About the Hosts

NYPL Labs (labs.nypl.org) is an interdisciplinary team focused on weaving library knowledge into the Internet. Labs digitizes collections, wrangles data, develops software, and works with the public to create new digital resources and tools. Current projects include Library Simplified, an effort (generously funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services) to create a beautiful, seamless, library-grown ebook lending and reading service.