Open Data Day DC

A yearly hackathon in the District of Columbia and on the same day as open data hackathons around the world.

Our last event was on February 22-23, 2014 at The World Bank.

We aim to strengthen the open data community and to make connections between people and between projects. There is no beer or pizza at our hackathon, no competitions, and no time pressure.

Check back later in the year for an announcement for the 2015 event.

Read the 2014 Wrap-Up »

How It Works


In 2014 we ran four introductory workshops, each 1.5 hours, in parallel to the hacking:

  • An Intro to Open Data, by co-organizer Eric Mill, is your starting point if you're new to open data. You'll learn what an API is, what JSON is, and how to use them in your work - without needing to write any code.
  • An Intro to Open Collaboration, lead by Leah Bannon, will show you how open data and open source are stronger when we're sharing and contributing to each other's work. You'll learn how to take advantage of tools like Github to publish your work to the Internet, and make other people's work better.
  • Open Mapping, by Max Richman, will teach you how to work with user-friendly mapping tools like Mapbox, QGIS, and Github.
  • In An Introduction to Python, Shannon Turner will take your data skills to the next level by learning some honest-to-goodness coding skills. You'll learn the basics of working with Python, one of the most humane and user-friendly programming languages around.


We break up into groups, decide on projects, and then get working. You'll be deciding on the projects, so start thinking about problems you'd like to tackle. Come with your own project, or join someone else.

We typically have projects related to:

  • school choice in DC public schools
  • municipal civic engagement / Code for DC projects
  • public transit
  • health & environment
  • government transparency
  • international development

Do I have to be a coder to attend? No! Designers, writers, statisticians, subject matter experts, and anyone with a passion for open data can be a hacker. All four of our workshops have no coding experience required.

The Open Data Day DC Archives...


With over 300 participants, Open Data Day DC 2014 was our largest yet. This year we expanded to two days, Feburary 22-23, 2013, at The World Bank.

Our projects included law enforcement effectiveness in developing countries, road safety in the Philippines, launching a new Code for Nepal organization, analyzing open budget data, parsing PDFs, measuring corruption, access to local law, parent choices in DC public schools, cataloging open data, mapping DC’s trees, mapping international conflict, and mapping oil infrastructure.

We also ran four workshops: An Intro to Open Data (by co-organizer Eric Mill), An Intro to Open Collaboration (by Leah Bannon), Open Mapping (by Max Richman), and An Introduction to Python (by Shannon Turner)

Flickr | Eric’s Recap | Sam’s Recap | CodeForDC’s Pre-cap | OpenGov Foundation’s Pre-cap

Open Data Day DC 2014 was organized by Joshua Tauberer (, Eric Mill (Sunlight Foundation), Sam Lee (World Bank), Katherine Townsend (USAID), and Julia Bezgacheva (World Bank) and hosted by The World Bank, with a pre-party thanks to Development Seed and MapBox, and photography thanks to the Internet Society.


Our second Open Data Day was on Feburary 23, 2013 at The World Bank.

Over 150 developers, data scientists, social entrepreneurs, government employees, and other open data enthusiasts participated in our event, first at a kickoff Friday night at Google’s DC headquarters and then at the Saturday session at The World Bank.

Participants worked on local DC issues, global open source mapping, world poverty, and open government. GitMachines, a project started at the hackathon, won $500,000 from the Knight News Challenge on Open Government!

We also ran an introductory tutorial on open data.

Open Data Day DC 2013 was organized by Josh Tauberer (GovTrack), Eric Mill (Sunlight Foundation), Katherine Townsend (USAID), Dmitry Kachaev (Presidential Innovation Fellow), Sam Lee (The World Bank), and Julia Bezgacheva (The World Bank). Special thanks to The World Bank, and thanks to Google for hosting our pre-party and to the Open Gov Hub for organizing our closing round of drinks.

Eric’s Recap | Sam’s Recap | Josh’s Recap | Tumblr | Storified Tweets | Flickr One | Flickr Two | Hackpad

Press coverage

DCist: Hack D.C.: Hackers Put Open Data to Use to Help Improve Local Government

The Atlantic Cities: Is There a Link Between Walkability and Local School Performance?

Greater Greater Washington: How school tiers match up with Walk Score

Greater Greater Education: Community of civic hackers for education takes shape


The first Open Data Day hackathon in DC was on Dec. 3, 2011 at the Martin Luther King Public Library. It was organized by Josh Tauberer (POPVOX) and Katie Filbert (Wikimedia DC).

The theme of our hackathon was open government data, and participants worked on improving access to U.S. law, scanning federal spending for anomalies following Benford’s Law, understanding farm subsidy grants, building local transit apps, and keeping Congress accountable. Only about half of the participants were programmers, but everyone found a way to be involved.

Read more about what we did on the post-event recap at

See how it got started.