Houston Hackathon

May 16-17

Houston Technology Center

This is the third annual City of Houston Hackathon. Over the course of 24 hours, 200+ people will work on projects that make Houston a better place.

Everyone is welcome. Coders, designers, storytellers, data nerds, marketers, writers, artists, kids, beginners.

This is a free, 24 hour event. We'll provide food and drink. Girl Develop It! will be offering a free intro to HTML/CSS class on Saturday afternoon.

As our agenda comes together, we'll be offering lots of fun stuff for everyone.

In the meantime, check out this video from our first hackathon, and read up on Houston's open data policy.

Press inquiries?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon is an event where people work on projects together. The Houston Hackathon is civic-focused, so participants work on projects designed to improve quality of life in the city. Many projects are software-based, but that is not a requirement.

Where's the data?

The Houston Open Data Portal is located here.

I don't code. Can I still participate?

Yes! There are roles for designers, storytellers, marketers, data artists, PR people, artists, kids, and more. If you're not sure what you can work on, just ask us. We're happy to help.

I don't have a team. Can I still participate?

Yes! The hackathon starts with a fun activity to help people find and form teams. No trust falls. We promise.

I have a project idea. Who do I talk to?

Feel free to contact us directly. If you're with the City of Houston, we'll help you put together a team. If you're a citizen, we'll help connect you to the right people.

I'm in high school. Can I still participate?

Yes! We encourage high school participants. Some of our best teams have been made up of high school students. If you are under 18, please make sure you have your parents' permission to participate.

Do I have to form a team in advance?

No! Just bring your skills and we'll find a place for you.

Do I have to pick a sample project?

No! You can work on whatever you want. But if you pick one of our sample projects, we'll match you up with a City stakeholder who can provide guidance.

How do I "claim" my project?

We're using ChallengePost for project management. This is where you will submit your final project, and where the judges will review your work, so be sure to register.

How much does the hackathon cost?

It's free! We're providing food and drink for 24 hours while y'all get to work. Many thanks to our sponsors for making this happen.

Will there be prizes?

Yes! Check back here for more details.

Who owns the work?

If you build your code from scratch, you own your work. If you fork an existing open source solution, you must keep your work open source. We recommend that all hackathon participants make their work open source, but the decision is yours.

Sample Projects

Get yer data from the City of Houston Open Data Portal!

Prices Paid

Prices Paid is an open source project from the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. The author, Robert Read, will be on site during the hackathon to help get it set up for the City of Houston. Requires knowledge of Python


Foodborne is an open source Rails app that scrapes Twitter for potential incidents of food poisioning, queues the tweet for a human to respond, and directs them to report the incident to the City's 311 department. Requires knowledge of Ruby on Rails.


This application allows citizens to "adopt" civic infrastructure, such as fire hydrants. Requires knowledge of Ruby on Rails.

Honolulu Answers

An app that allows residents to search for answers about city services as if they were typing questions into Google. Requires knowledge of Ruby on Rails.


Configure this Illinois-based application to function for Texas. Expunge.io helps folks with a juvenile record determine if they are eligible to petition for expungement, and get in contact with legal aid to complete the expungement process.


A portal to manage and display public record requests.


Help the city pilot a system for code enforcement and building permits.

Change By Us

A new way to share ideas, do projects, and make our cities better.

SunlightLabs APIs

These are APIs provided by the Sunlight Foundation. Build all kinds of apps using this data!

Ohana Web Search

Ohana Web Search uses the Ohana API to find human and social services in your community.

Business License Renewal Reminders

Build a website where businesses can track all their active permits and receive reminders when renewals are required, or when relevant ordinances change.

City Performance Dashboards

Use City financial and operational performance data to build performance dashboards.

Electric Vehicle Savings and Emission Calculator

Build a calculator to help people identify cost savings, ROI, and emissions reductions from using electric vehicles.

EV Charging Stations Map

Build an map to help locate any of the Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations in the Houston metro area, regardless of the manufacturer.

Annual Community Plan (Criminal Justice)

Build a "living" and community driven "Annual Community Plan" that crowdsources data and commentary, and provides data analysis/visualization in order to target public safety programs and interventions.

Houston Bike Map

Build a mobile-friendly map to help you find all Houston Bike Trails, Bike Lanes, Bike Share B-Cycle locations, Metro Bike Parking locations, and Bike shops. Everything bikes and Houston all in one place.

Houston Human Services with Aunt Bertha

Develop a site to highlight all human services functions and organizations in the Houston metro area. Partner with startup Aunt Bertha to document Houston organizations and provide an effective portal for Houstonians. Alternately, develop data analytics on Aunt Bertha data that would be useful to the City for management and development of human services programs.

Open Innovation Crowdsourcing App

Develop a site where citizens and the City can post ideas for improvements, with the ability for others to vote positively or negatively for the ideas and provide comments.

Restaurant Inspection Scores

Develop a way to show Houston restaurant inspection scores.

Special Events Street and Lane Closures App

Develop an App that displays up to date street and lane closures due to special events and other city related non-accidents.

Community Partners

Annise Parker
Ed Gonzalez
Code for America
January Advisors
Open Houston
Houston Technology Center
Girl Develop It Houston
Rice Center for Civic Leadership
Rails Girls Houston
Lean Startup Circle Houston
Houston Data Visualization Meetup

Contact us