Civic Hacking Committee

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Committees are voluntary groups, formed by members in order to achieve certain goals.
To join this committee, contact the committee chairperson. See Rules and Policies#Committees for more information.

Civic Hacking is the process of improving your local community through clever use of technology. It frequently involves computer programming, such as building new web and mobile apps that inform people about civic matters or help them communicate better with their local government. It can also involve mapping and GIS projects, physical infrastructure such helping a community garden set up a solar power system. There are annual, nation-wide civic hacking events like the National Day of Civic Hacking where groups like this one coordinate their efforts in a day-long hackathon. As you can see, we are using the word "hacking" in its original meaning within engineering and technical community, as a word to describe the clever use of technology to solve problems. The same sense in which it is used in the word "hackerspace". We are definitely not using the more recent Hollywood/media inspired definition of a hacker as a computer criminal.

Upcoming Events

  • Ongoing sporadically: Periodic research & user polling on format for Makers' Markers


  1. To coordinate civic hacking activities with other Dallas / Fort Worth groups
  2. To implement useful civic hacking projects
  3. To promote civic hacking by recruiting new participants and sponsors


  • Chair: Stephen Wylie - Python, PERL, PHP, JavaScript, Google Maps API, Android Java, MySQL, Socrata
  • Steve Rainwater - City of Irving point of contact, GNU/Linux, PostgreSQL, MySQL, PERL, PHP, C
  • John Fields - Modern PERL, GNU/Linux, PHP, SQL, GIS, OSM
  • Ralph Green - PostgreSQL, MySQL, Python, OSM
  • Daniel Jackson - Python, Django
  • Lance Preston - Unix/Linux scripting, database dev, SQL, GPS, GIS, mapping (e.g., kml/kmz, shapefile, TIGER), OpenStreetMap, Google Earth, instrumentation, data acquisition/data logging
  • Gus Reiter - PHP, MySQL



This project is a partnership with bcWorkshop, and aims to crowdsource people's definitions of neighborhood boundaries within the City of Dallas through a mobile app. The goal is to "empower community stakeholders and neighborhood leaders to have greater impact on the activity within and direction of their neighborhood," as currently at an administrative level, there are way too many neighborhood definitions for Dallas to keep track of.

Ways you can help:

  • Contribute to our source code; come out to a meeting and help us write the application. We are using BackboneJS & Rivets for the application's framework, so obviously it is a JavaScript app. We are using PostGIS (GIS extension for PostgreSQL) as our backend.
  • Be an application tester. Tell us how much fun you have with it and how we can make it better. Then, tell your friends. :-)

N Minutes From the Makerspace

As part of an initiative to find out what resources are close to the Makerspace, we have produced maps that show the boundary of the area Google believes we could reach by driving for n minutes or less (assuming you don't get stuck waiting for trains). Currently, we have two maps: 5 minutes and 10 minutes. You can ask Stephen Wylie for these maps now; eventually we will be "cleaning them up" with real GIS software (instead of just drawing the boundaries freehand in MS Paint) and posting them here.

Ways you can help:

  • Help me vectorize these map boundaries in a GIS tool (i.e. make a big polygon with lots of vertices).
  • Help me check the accuracy of this data.
  • Search for business listings within this area from either Makers' Markers or places where DMS members might want to gather to get food or entertainment.

Makers' Markers

This will be a couple of interactive maps (one physical, with push-pins for crowdsourcing; one online) that feature placemarks consisting of local stores around Dallas/Ft. Worth that sell consumable supplies, parts, or tools that one might use when building projects at DMS. All sorts of domains are covered, including wood/metalworking, plastics, ceramics, electronics, craft supplies, fabrics, gases, hardware, hydroponics. Currently the project exists as a QGIS file and associated spreadsheet of data.

Ways you can help:

  • The accuracy of the placemarks for these stores needs to be verified before the map can get printed.
  • Placemark shapes & colors need to be optimized to minimize overlap, maximize visibility, and accommodate those with certain visual impairments.
  • A physical listing of these places needs to be compiled that includes map marker index number, name, address, & telephone; plus possibly hours open, a generic marketing blurb, and reviews.
  • The Web manifestation of this map needs to be made, with a robust searching/sorting/filtering interface plus ideally the ability for DMS members to leave comments about each place.

Most recent dataset (8/3/15): File:DMS

QGIS file (9/3/15):

Join Us

If you're a Dallas Makerspace member and would like to join the civic hacking group, it's easy. Add your name and the skills you'd like to contribute to the member list above. To keep up to date on DMS civic hacking plans and projects, please subscribe to the civic hacking mailing list through Google Groups. We also have an area in the DMS forum where you can post about civic hacking topics. You may also want to check the list of DFW civic hacking resources below for other groups, forums, or lists of interest.

Proposed Projects

Software Resources

This is a list of software tools that can assist in civic hacking projects. Please include only software whose license meets the Free Software Foundation definition of a free software license.

  • OSMtracker (Android) - GPLv3 - GPS tracker for creating OpenStreetMap GPX tracks. Download from Google Play store.

DFW Civic Hacking Resources

US Civic Hacking Resources

Previous DFW Civic Hacking Events

A variety of local organizations, Dallas Regional Chamber, Open Dallas, Thoughtworks, and bcWorkshop have held or participated in previous Dallas-specific civic hackathon events.