Citizen Engagement

White House to host Open Data Day Hackathon

We The People screenshot

The next White House hackathon is intended to improve the programming code for the We The People petition site.

Do you know your way around an application programming interface? Do open data and data visualization make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Want to work on the code that allowed the public to petition for the administration to build a Death Star or let Texas secede from the country?

Feb. 22’s White House Open Data Day Hackathon might be for you.

The administration is looking for a few good hackers to help develop the next-generation of API code that drives the We the People petitioning system. We the People launched in August 2012 and allows citizens to create petitions that merit official review and response if a certain threshold – now 100,000 signatures – is reached.

It has grown increasingly popular in recent months, with two million new users, six million total logins and 10 million signatures thus far, according to Peter Welsch, deputy director of online platform for the White House Office of Digital Strategy.

In a White House blog post announcing the Hackathon on Feb 5, Welsch said Petitions 1.0, the code We the People runs on, is complete. Now it is time to work towards Petitions 2.0.

"In software development, when you go from one version number to another it means that something big is going on," Welsch said. "We're taking a new approach to how the application works, one that starts with the assumption that it should be as open, transparent, and flexible as possible."

In the post, Welsch said the API on which Petitions 2.0 is based will be released to the public "in the coming months."

"The first set of methods, Read API, will be released in March, 2013 and will allow anyone to retrieve data on petitions, signatures, and responses," Welsch said. "Later, we'll release a second set of methods, Write API, that will allow other websites and apps to collect and submit signatures without directly sending users to WhiteHouse.gov. With this API in place we'll be able to decouple the presentation and data layers of the application and build a new, streamlined signature process."

"This also means that developers who reuse our code will be able to choose which database the application relies on. Between that and our continued work on a white label theme, Petitions 2.0 will be easier for others to contribute to and reuse," Welsch said.

Open data experts with skills necessary to work with APIs, data visualizations, tools and other services can apply to attend the Hackathon at www.whitehouse.gov/developers/hackathon. Those selected will be notified by Feb. 8, and will receive access to We the People’s Read API prior to the Hackathon.

The White House’s Open Data Day Hackathon will precede a set of international coding sessions to be held on Feb. 23. For more information, visit www.opendataday.org.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.

Featured

  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Fri, Feb 8, 2013

And here is another waste of taxpayer dollars.

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above