In 2009, President Obama launched the “Transparent and Open Government” initiative in a memorandum, signaling that government should be transparent, participatory, and collaborative. As part of this initiative, was launched and now contains over 160,000 datasets, free to the public to use. Thus, the open data definition reads:

“Open data is data that anyone can access, use, and share” (Open Data Institute)

…and THAT’S what the Purdue IronHacks are all about: Using open data to create something novel!

IronHacks: Hacking for real world impact!

To foster the adoption of open governmental data, federal agencies and large cities create contests and use competitive crowds to spur innovation. They hope that applications will be created that are of strong value in the market. However, such contests often fail because they do not tap into the collective knowledge of the hacker’s crowd, provide little feedback that guides hackers in creating useful applications, and support little re-use of knowledge about useful features.

Starting Fall 2015, The Purdue Research Center for Open Digital Innovation (RCODI) will launch a new groundbreaking area of research geared toward helping the design of successful idea competitions. These can more efficiently spur innovation for a higher economic and social welfare at the regional, national, and global scale. With a focus on transparency rather than just participation as a means to foster innovation, the RCODI will run a series of 3-weeks open data hacks, the Purdue ‘IronHacks’, that aim to spur civic innovations. The project is focused on the role of transparency as a mechanism to spur innovation among hackers and create open data solutions that are further used.

The IronHacks

In collaboration with several Open Data organizations, experts, Purdue Hackers local city councils, and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), The RCODI will engage over 400 students in 4 IronHacks over 2 years in using open datasets from and local governmental datasets from Lafayette and West Lafayette, Indiana. Using these datasets and under the mentorship of skilled technical evangelists, the students will combine and recombine various types of data to develop unique and novel solutions that meet performance goals in terms of market demand, technological demand, and usability.

The IronHacks represent the true spirit of Purdue: working arduously to solve pressing problems that will change the world. With this series of hacks, The RCODI will advance research on how we can better use open data and turn them into functional applications. Furthermore, it will guide in designing better hacks and contests for the generation of unexplored solutions to pressing issues on a regional, national, and global scale.

Be part of the movement!

So you love coding, you love getting better at coding, you do not see obstacles but possibilities, and/or you wish to make a change in society? If you think just one of these criteria fits, you are eligible to compete in the four IronHacks! Joining fellow peers in an inspiring and competitive environment and under the guidance of leading technical experts in Open Data, you will apply theoretical learnings from Purdue and improve your coding skills in a hectic environment. There will be numerous prizes to be won, including but not limited to: conference presentations of winning projects, field trips to company HQs, paid internships, gadgets, gift cards, money, and much much more. Stay tuned for updates, or if you cannot wait, shoot us an e-mail - it is never too late to join the movement!

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