Gov TechApril 30, 2012 By Noelle Knell
Teams of Web-savvy programmers descended on Joplin, Mo., the weekend of April 27-29 to come up with proposals for a new online community engagement platform for the Midwestern city. In full rebuilding mode from the deadly tornado that struck the city in May 2011, claiming 160 lives, city leaders see the online overhaul as an extension of its physical recovery from the disaster.
In an interview with Government Technology, Joplin Mayor Melodee Colbert-Kean said, “We've been doing a continuous job of building back houses, building back businesses, getting the community drawn together and everybody pitching in to make sure Joplin gets built back. This hackathon is just another form of rebuilding Joplin. It's just helping us to rebuild Joplin’s digital home.”
Sponsored by CivicPlus, a developer of government websites, the event pitted nine prequalified teams against each other in a competition with prizes in three categories: overall design, citizen engagement and emergency communications.
In the end, however, Mark Morris, Joplin information services director and event judge, revealed to Government Technology that while winners were selected in all three categories, the caliber of ideas each team presented inspired the city to incorporate elements from every entry into the final website design.
“Those folks that came [to the hackathon] don't swing hammers, don't use saws, don't build schools and restaurants and homes — they build websites, so that's what they came to bring,” Morris said. “We are including some piece of each team's focus into the overall design.”