Presented in Partnership with the Toronto Public Library, City of Toronto, and Social Planning Toronto.
Registration is now open for the TO Prosperity Hackathon on Sept 17/18, a free event that we are co-organizing, hosted by the Toronto Public Library. If you’re not in Toronto, don’t fret – you can participate remotely. The focus of the hackathon is Toronto’s Poverty Reduction Strategy – TO Prosperity.
Poverty in Toronto is a complex problem, influenced by global, national, provincial, and local factors. It’s a political issue. And it’s a shared responsibility issue. Which is why we’re using this hackathon to expand civic literacy about poverty and to engage as citizens learning and working together. As Mayor John Tory says in the policy document: “We will not end poverty or bridge the divides in our city without hard work and meaningful collaboration.”
The challenges for the hack are real problems facing three organizations doing work to support poverty reduction day in and day out: The Toronto Public Library, the City of Toronto Social Development, Finance and Administration Division, and Social Planning Toronto. Each challenge has a mentor (or several) from these three organizations and some additional community organizations – mentors are subject matter experts, they’re there to help with any questions you may have about the policy area and related data. The challenges are rooted in the City’s poverty reduction strategy, each of the ten challenges are tied to one of the six issue areas of the poverty reduction strategy, which are:
Housing Stability: The city needs more quality affordable housing so that individuals and families with low-incomes do not need to sacrifice basic needs to live in decent conditions.
Service Access: Not all residents find the services they need when they need them; the City can do more to make services available and effective.
Transit Equity: Public transit needs to be affordable and reliable; it needs to take residents to opportunities and bring opportunities to neighbourhoods.
Food Access:Torontonians, especially in many low-income communities, need better access to affordable, nutritious food.
Quality Jobs and Livable Wages: Toronto cannot achieve its vision of being an equitable and inclusive city while so many residents are unable to find quality jobs.
Systemic Change: Mobilizing an entire city to reduce and ultimately end poverty will take new ways of thinking and new ways of working.
Over the course of the last few months we’ve met with the challenge owners several times, created a draft list of challenges that the tech community might be able to help with, talked to the broader civic tech and policy community, asked for help, looked for related data, asked for ideas, then did it all over again. In the course of doing this prep work, three main themes of work emerged: project challenges for the hackathon, open data requests, and related education opportunities.
The 10 challenges can be found here. We welcome you to begin exploring them to see if you might want to work on one. Some of the data is not available yet, but we’ll provide updates as we have them. We’d love to hear from you if you’re considering starting a project and have any questions – please email the team at email@example.com
Open Data Requests
Through the process of defining the challenges we uncovered a few data sets that would be helpful but are not currently public or open. So we are going to organize formal data requests on behalf of the open data/civic tech community. The topic areas for the open data requests are housing data (evictions data and data related to above guideline rent increases), 211 data, and City of Toronto Parks and Recreation program access data. We’ll provide updates as we formalize these requests.
Finally, a few themes emerged related to the challenges – namely, online privacy, rural data, and how to make deputations at City Hall. We’ll be organizing free workshops, in partnership with the Toronto Public Library where applicable, to support ongoing learning about these issues. Updates on these as we have them.
Community Collaboration – Before and After the Hack
In partnership with Civic Tech Toronto and the Toronto Open Data Book Club, we’re getting a head start on the hack by sharing the challenges today so work can begin early at Civic Tech Toronto hack nights and at the Open Data Book Club. Civic Tech Toronto will make a great home for any of these projects after the hack – as a place to continue to work on them with support from the challenge owners into the Fall.
If you’re interested in working on any of the challenges before the hack date please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll invite you to a dedicated project workspace in Slack and answer any questions you may have. You can work remotely if you can’t join in person on September 17/18 so send us an email if you’d like to do that.
We’re dedicating Sunday the 18th to an expo and facilitated discussion of all the projects as well a short discussion about poverty reduction in Toronto. This is not a competitive event, it’s a community collaboration event with a focus on education – we’d love to have you join us and we are excited to see what we as a community can pull together.
A Final Note
We’ve spent time thinking as a group about the challenges proposed for the hack and setting up supports to see if we can make some of these projects happen or at least begin to happen. But we realize you may have another project or idea you might like to explore – so long as it ties back to the six issue areas that are the focus of TO Prosperity then it’s totally fair game.
More from us soon and hope to see you September 17th and 18th.
Bianca and Andi