Visualizing Neighborhoods (A Hackathon for Good) Recap

Visualizing Neighborhoods: A Hackathon for Good primarily organized by the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA) with help from Open Twin Cities and many others was (and hopefully will continue to be) a hackathon type of event focused on neighborhood or place-based communities and data and other visualizations and took place this year on Saturday, May 25, 2013.

A great group of technologists, neighborhood leaders, designers, analysts, program/project designers and others came for the day and worked on projects ranging from visualizing bus routes in relationship to population density, to imagining a visualization that shows job growth on the Central Corridor… from communication tools to link teachers and parents, to mapping crime in relationship to a variety of environmental factors… from looking at voting patterns between presidential election years, to an activity and route-focused map for connecting youth and adults to urban green space “destinations”. More people dropped by throughout the day, or attended the afternoon Think Tank to learn more about hackathons, data visualizations, and to create pitches.

- From the CURA page

Survey results

The following are things people said in their survey responses anonymously.

What we did well

Lots of undisrupted time to hack–but then the option of participating in some late-afternoon activities for those groups who were winding down by that time. A very good balance of activities and open time.

I thought the entire event was enjoyable. I was nervous to pitch my project, but people were receptive and excited to help out. The fact that everyone was there because they wanted to be meant that most were energetic and willing to share their knowledge and expertise.

What we could improve for next time

Time management for teams. 5 hours is a really short window of time.


There is a huge need for these kinds of community org/tech community collaborations, and I was amazed by the breadth and depth of the project ideas. Keep this up–I’d definitely attend more of these in the future!

I think the most important thing I took away was that there are many people willing to help out our nonprofit’s cause. Several team members have indicated their desire to help advance the project moving forward.


We did not do the best of job of capturing information on all the great activities, as this is difficult, but here is the information that we have so far. Feel free to update this document if you attended and the things you worked on are not represented here.

Bus Routes (#8 Minneapolis)

Using data to find out how many people are served by individual bus stops; evaluate current service and place for the future. Notes including explanation of GitHub files:

Green Spaces (mapping and gaming) / Bike Destinations

Project Get Outdoors wants to create a check-in style game for outdoor spaces/activities for kids / Route planning, locating amenities surrounding routes, alerts for activities, etc. Discussed user experience and possibilities for app interface from multiple perspectives (kids, parents, adults, and naturalists). Drew inspiration from a Sherlock Holmes story map via Produced a custom styled map via and swapped the Sherlock Holmes story and locations with information for a Walking Tour of Mill City at Project notes.

School Tools / Class Talk

Looked at ClassTalk.

Zeta Shapes

David debuted Zeta Shapes, a crowd-sourced set of neighborhood boundaries.

Central Corridor Jobs

What does 14,000 new jobs by 2030 look like on the corridor?

Mpls Neighborhood Guide

Inspired by Zeta Shapes, this team wanted to copy Seattle. Seattle has a repository of all neighborhood data; consolidate and aggregate existing data here / Crowd-sourcing neighborhood boundaries across the US.

Visualizing Crime Data

Prejudice in certain city areas of being unsafe; what do the data say?

Electoral Inclusion

Huge drop in turnout in non-presidential elections; visualize who votes and who doesn’t.

Legacy Family Center

To create a personalized, responsive support network that builds resilient families.

Other projects that were pitched

Project ideas from the Think Tank