The Houston Writeathon is coming soon! On February 22, a bunch of writers, designers, and data nerds are coming together to improve public sector communication. You can RSVP here (it’s free). This post should give you a little more information about the format of the event, and projects you can work on.
Unlike a typical hackathon, the Houston Writeathon is only going to last about 6 hours. So it’s especially important to come to the event with a project in mind. Luckily, we’ve got projects to spare (see below).
The doors swing open at 10 a.m. Come in, grab a notebook, and get settled. At 10:30 a.m., we’ll have a few introductory words, then we’ll get to work. If you get hungry, stroll across the courtyard to Eatsie Boys and let ‘em know you’re a writeathon participant (and take 15% off).
If you’re into data visualizations or infographics, here are some tools that you can use:
- City of Houston Open Data Portal
- Many Eyes (web-based data visualization; requires Java)
- Google Charts
- Tableau Public
- Infographic Templates from Graphic River ($)
- RSS Voyage (visualize RSS feeds)
You can work your own ideas, or you can pick from this growing list of sample projects:
- Visualize the procurement process with an infographic. This is the best thing we have right now. And don’t forget about the Hire Houston First program!
- Visualize the variety of City of Houston social media channels, and what they talk about.
- Conduct an open data inventory by correlating the datasets on the open data portal with this census.
- Tackle the dreaded parking sign and make it easier to understand.
- Offer feedback on the Department of Neighborhoods new website (available here).
- Visualize key data from the City of Houston’s recently “released” audit letters from the Controller’s office. Backstory here.
- Translate the Health Pets, Healthy Streets initiative into a marketing campaign.
- If you just can’t stop coding … contribute a Texas state parser to the new OpenRFPs project.
- Redesign the Graduation Game Plan Toolkit from the Department of Neighborhoods. More info here and here.
- Rewrite Hire Houston First for an audience of small businesses who do not currently do business with the City.
- Visualize how to obtain a library card and the benefits you enjoy.
- Pull together all of the resources for relocating to Houston and map out a website.
- Create some quick and dirty maps using BatchGeo. Maps you can tackle are: dog parks, hiking trails, fitness centers, tennis courts, golf courses, bikeway trails, skate parks, community centers, and urban gardens, among others.
- Translate the City of Houston’s transportation ordinances into plain language, and explain what it means for competitors like Uber and Lyft.
- Translate the minimum lot ordinance to show how residential neighborhoods can mobilize and protect the character of their streets.
- Provide a summary of dense research papers like this.
- Work with issue advocates to draft online petitions using the Change.org platform.
- Describe a light rail stop and the attractions surrounding it.
- Work with board members of the Houston Center for Literacy drafting their new strategic plan.
- Develop a new marketing campaign around the City’s 311 app, using the built-in rewards system to drive community engagement.
- Translate one or more City ordinances into plainspeak.
- Create an infographic for special event designations and filing deadlines.
- Provide written use cases and/or visualizations of all the things you can do with My City Maps & Apps.
- Create a written or visual document that shows all of the ways you can get to and from Houston’s airports.
- Create a what you can do to help marketing flyer, designed to the specs of a water bill insert.
- Set up a website of Houston facts and tag them with key pieces of information.
- Better written and visual information about how Houston residents can enroll in a health insurance plan.
- Come up with a marketing campaign for soliciting and incorporating website feedback for the City of Houston. (It has to be better than this!)
- Help communicate the One Bin For All vision, either through writing or visuals.
- Write an editorial tackling something you find in the recent Performance Insights report from the Finance Department. We’ll publish here!
We will keep adding to this list as the event approaches, so be sure to check back.