Urban Hackathon

Format Hackathons

City Maribor, Slovenia

various venues i.e. community centres, cultural centres, university halls, classrooms… – Urban hackathons are generally known and used event-format in the world of software engineering, but have in recent years been upgraded and used also in other fields, as i.e. urban regeneration, transport planning… Hackathon in general is an event at which problems are solved in a limited time frame (24-48 h) with intense participant collaboration. The focus of a hackathon is usually predefined, however creativity in problem solving is at the forefront of all activities. It can be very useful to involve different professions, local communities and researchers on an equal level, and by doing so managing the contemporary urban environment.

The need for urban regeneration and activation of the old town centre of Maribor paved the way to organise a format called urban hackathon. There was a need to bring people together to work on a topic of degraded and abandoned places in the very historic centre of the city. At the same time, there was a need to establish information platform, consisting of visions and documents for spatial development of the city, of projects relevant for the city as well mapping of degraded spaces in the city centre. Two full days of work in groups of various local actors (residents, students, few members of the Municipality, actors from the local cultural scene, architects, local NGO's) resulted in small activation of the neighbourhood.

People Power ORGANISE!

You need a core team of organisers to define the topic and the program and to select the venue. Then you need to invite participants according to the topic - it can be invitation open to anyone interested or you can narrow down the selection to specific experts. If you want to activate your neighbourhood try to involve people from different professions, backgrounds, municipality representatives as well the residents.

Location Indoor and outdoor (GO OUTSIDE!)

Most hackathons take place inside. Place should have some meaning to the local community and it should be easy accesible for all participants. Have in mind the work in groups, so you will need to prepare some tables for discussions or work on computers. You will most probably need a projector. Part of our hackathons were organised as urban hacking that took place also outise the buildings, in the space of the city.

Things you need FOOD & EASY PROBLEM SOLVING

As hackathons are compact time formats that can last from two to three days in a row, food is an essential element not only for the sake of nourishment but also as a social connector. Interesting - at computer hackathons people usually stay overnight, so in case of sleeping, you will also need to assure some space or even matrasses for sleeping. In case of working together in a group of interesting people for such a timespan, many unexpected solutions start to appear :) (Plus: don't forget to raise some money to cover the cost for food, maybe you can find a venue withut paying a rental).

Communication BEFORE, DURING & AFTER (DO NOT FORGET ABOUT AFTER!)

Before the event, send program and invitations via Facebook or via other channels. If you wish to involve residents, place printed invitations to their house mailboxes. Place some posters or similar on the walls of the venue and across the city. For better organisation of the event, it is useful that people register before the event, so you will know how much food to prepare, how many chairs and tables you need and so on. And the day of the event, organise a reception desk to receive the participants. Try to inform them about the daily program, especially if there are some unexpected changes. Communicate the conclusions at the end of the hackathon and thank all the organisers and participants for the successful collaboration. Finally, don't forget to spread the results via different channels when the hackathon is finished, as well invite some journalist to do some interviews with participants and to write an article about it.

Society House!