Editor’s note: Jason Hibbets is the NC Open Pass co-chair.

DURHAM — Citizens joined government experts and civic technologists to discuss topics that were top of mind for the community at the ninth annual NC Open Pass Civic Camp unconference this month.

Will Aycock from the City of Wilson gave the morning keynote talk at the event held at Smashing Boxes in Durham. Among the highlights: infrastructure improvements, services provided and more importantly, how public broadband is making a huge difference in the Wilson community.

My biggest takeaway from the keynote was learning how the City of Wilson is changing the rural to urban migration with investment in infrastructure and building a new collaborative space called “The Exchange” for community input, ideation, and progression. The keynote was a timely conversation because over the past two to three years at Civic Camp, the topic of the rural-urban divide has been mentioned multiple times.

There is concern from some active civic technologists around the disparity of civic tech activity in urban areas and the lack of activity in rural areas. More specifically, civic tech efforts in rural areas can sometimes be lackluster and don’t have the desired impact due to lack of participation, talent, resources, and support from government partners. There is a great opportunity for Code for America brigade and other civic technologists to partner with rural communities.

Participants also had an opportunity to attend an open data workshop hosted by data.world or a panel on smart cities hosted by NC RIoT.

The ninth annual NC Open Pass Civic Camp unconference was held in Wilson this month.

3 projects sparked interest at Civic Camp

During the unconference of Friday afternoon, there were eight sessions held on a variety of topics. Lead by the participants who attended the Civic Camp event, there were conversations about data-driven decisions to shape Dix Park, addressing homelessness, reducing home fires, how to begin record expungement, and improving the Triangle Innovation Hub. I heard from several participants that the 55-minute sessions were high quality with engaged people.

As the Civic Camp event transitioned to the project workday on Saturday, September 21, we saw three projects emerge as the big topics that participants were interested in tackling. They included the following:

Triangle Innovation Hub

Triangle Innovation Hub’s primary goal is to create a valuable, user-centric, and responsive resource guide for the public and the entrepreneurship community. Specifically, they focus on making it easier for new and upcoming entrepreneurs to learn and locate valuable information about a variety of opportunities and resources that are available to them here in the Triangle.

These resources range from co-working spaces, notable initiatives, grants and accelerators, incubators, and more. Triangle Innovation Hub has reorganized an asset map initially started by Innovate Raleigh to respond to a community need and is beneficial to the entrepreneurship community and the public.

Cyberscape Architecture for Dix Park

How can data drive decision-making for Dix Park? The local tech talent community is invited  to contribute knowledge of resources, tools, and processes for constructing the cyberscape for park visitors seeking wellness through park features, programs, and spaces. The first goal is to create a baseline of park populations with sensors distributed throughout the park to prove the impact of park projects as it grows over the next 50 years. Volunteers are wanted to shape the history of one of the world’s few parks named after a women and dedicated to the cause of wellness.

Red Alerts

The National Weather Service publishes warnings for tornadoes and other dire events, and they include storm position, speed, and direction information—but nobody is using that information yet. This project is to consume those messages and transform them into specific actionable events for people in the warned area–which involves interpreting the messages, providing them to subscribers, and computing the warned state for a known location.

Up next: Meet-ups and NC Open Pass DataPalooza

Select teams received a $250 project stipend from NC Open Pass to continue their work. Each team is planning on attending and continuing their work at future meetups hosted by the Open Raleigh Brigade on September 24, October 8, and October 22. Each team has been offered a 10-minute presentation to highlight their work during the NC Open Pass DataPalooza event to be held on November 14, 2019 at the Red Hat Annex.