Next up for Startup Weekend: Making government move at Internet speed


You might say it is a bit of an oxymoron. But Startup Weekend is introducing a new event next month in Seattle designed to bring the fast-paced world of startups to the slow-moving world of city government. Dubbed Startup Weekend GOV, the event will follow the typical 54-hour brain and coding jam associated with other Startup Weekend events held all over the world.

However, this event will be a bit different. Teams will be encouraged to tap into open data sets — including those from King County and the City of Seattle — in order to make new mobile or Web applications that make our a community a better place.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn (Via Seattle Channel)

It marks the first time that Startup Weekend has brought the rapid-pace entrepreneurial concept to government organizations, following other successful niche events such as Startup Weekend EDU.

“Startup Weekend is a way for us to connect with a growing community of innovative thinkers who are interested in open government,” said King County CIO Bill Kehoe. “We are looking forward to collaborating with the City and the State to provide data to talented developers, and let them think outside the box about how we connect services to people.”

About 200 people are expected to attend the event, which will take place at Seattle City Hall from April 27 to April 29.

I am personally thrilled to see this come together. The worlds of technology and government too often live parallel existences, and bringing folks from the communities together to learn from one another could prove beneficial for all of us.

In fact, some projects have already emerged in the Seattle area from the ‘Open Government” movement, namely the popular mobile app One Bus Away.

Madrona’s Greg Gottesman is helping to organize the event, with entrepreneur Mike Koss and Seattle mayor Mike McGinn scheduled to speak. In fact, I am told that the winning team from the event will get a private lunch with the Mayor.

  • Forrest

    Is anyone attempting to inform attendees of current projects and goals? That would help some of what gets created to actually be used.

    • Marina Martin

      Hi Forrest… do you mean current government projects and goals? For this weekend, our goal is simply to increase awareness of and interaction with the available open data sets (which are being paid for and supported, but not widely used). There is also an emphasis on thinking about this data in terms of public safety implications… but beyond that, I would say that the governments are looking for new ideas and ways for folks to use this data, as opposed to being instructive as to how it should be used.

      • Forrest

        It seems unfortunate that such an effort would not attempt to align itself with existing needs and requirements. With such gaping holes that need to be filled, it seems odd that so much effort would be put in that will likely be in opposition and anti-productive to existing needs. But I guess that just helps it be more government-like :/

        • Marina Martin

          Hi Forrest.. what exactly do you see as the barrier to creating apps that would address existing needs? If the holes are gaping… fill them! :)

          • Forrest

            After digging through my emails, we’ve talked about this before :) The barrier is communication, apparently. Finding out what the city is working on, what its goals are, and building stuff that is in alignment with that. For example, emergency preparedness. There’s a massive amount of work to do and a huge area for app developers to play for all the levels under the top one http://www.seattle.gov/emergency/prepare/neighborhood/documents/pyramid.pdf And there’s a few ways to integrate open data sets to fill those needs.

            I’m still working on my project, but at times it’s slow going since it’s all volunteer.

  • Ted

    Yes, check out the idea scale site https://opennw.ideascale.com/. 

    • Forrest

      Those just seem to be the general public’s ideas.