Tuesday, August 2, 2011 | 4:56 PM
What do you get when you mix a city government that is prioritizing its digital presence with a homegrown, budding tech community? Reinvent nyc.gov, the City of New York’s first ever hackathon - an event where engineers meet to do collaborative programming. Held this past weekend at the entrepreneur campus General Assembly, the top prize at the hackathon was not money, but something even better: breakfast with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
To call redesigning nyc.gov a challenging task would be an understatement: Since its launch in 1996, nyc.gov has expanded from around 1,000 pages to over 500,000, covering every city agency and task force. The number of yearly visitors to City-run web pages (33 million, or 24 million for nyc.gov) is approaching that of visitors to Central Park (37 million), according to New York City’s Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne. Of course, over the course of 2 days, the goal was to generate ideas and prototypes for the redesign.
The event kicked off with welcomes from city officials who framed the event and gave a glimpse of the city’s digital future. Deputy Mayor for Operations for New York Steve Goldsmith said, “we want to be transparent in a usable way, and encourage collaborative decision making.”
As a tech partner, Google demoed developer tools for Maps, YouTube, and Android, and held office hours for the over 60 participants from New York to Kansas to California. As teams formed, a few of us also participated as designers and developers.