This summer will feature a weekend (June 1-2) of events nationwide that allow the tech-savvy to engage with the government — and its data. National Day of Civic Hacking events will take place in dozens of cities, perhaps your own.
The idea is to combine a bunch of public government data (census data, congressional records, etc) with hackers and other techies who want to make something with it. Much of this data is already available, but perhaps not very visible to curious coders.
For instance, someone might want to correlate pothole density with traffic accident frequency, but doesn't really understand how to get the info on the latter. A big group event like this with government officials and concerned citizens would be a great place to fill in the gap.
So far there are 30 events planned, from Honolulu to Seattle to Syracuse, but events are still in the planning stage. You can start your own if you want, though you'll be responsible for organizing it and seeing it through. You can have a big hackathon, a meetup with local officials, or whatever seems appropriate.
NASA, the Census Bureau, and the Department of Labor will be participating and contributing data, and a number of other partners are helping set up events. There's lots more information on the "Hack for Change" website, though for now not much is available on individual events — you'll want to check back closer to June.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.