I wasn't totally sure where to add this, hence the misc notes pad, but there is a stack exchange with some interesting questions/discusions for open data that has some interesting questions/answers and discussions:
Notes for explaining civic hacking, feel free to revise and add your own!
What is civic hacking?
Hacking has an interesting social definition, due to news reports regarding computer terrorism, and a few bad movies from the 90's. But in reality, we use the term "hacking" as a way to represent the tinkering and experimentation that we do using open data.
Civic hacking takes data that has been released by the government and does something interesting and useful with it
What is open data?
Open data is data that is available to everyone, machine-readable (machine-readable means that I can program a computer to read that data to display it in a useful way), free of charge, and often is data that has been trapped on individual computers at city hall that has been put online for people to use, even if it is hard to use
There is all sorts of data that the city collects - reports on potholes, food safety inspections, reports on graffiti, abandoned buildings. If this data is published online, it can be used by civic hackers to create useful applications.
So who is paying for all of this programming?
In the open data and open government movement, all of the applications and solutions we create are "open source". If you come from a programming background, you understand the term, but for those who are new to this world, open source software is software for which the code that creates and runs the program is freely published and distributed online under an open source license. Often this means that the source code is open for people to study, reuse, repurpose, "hack" or tinker with, and either enhance or create new things with it. This allows our projects to help other cities and counties benefit from reusing the applications and "standing on the shoulders of giants" by not having to start from scratch with a project.
For example, Chicago's civic hacking group was took a data set for flu shot clinics and created this app two flu seasons ago which allowed locals to enter in their address and get transit directions to the closest flu shot clinic near them.
Boston then had a flu outbreak last flu season in which the city declared a public health emergency, and their local civic hacking group used the requested the source code from Chicago. The Chicago group used a website called GitHub to share the repository of the source code. GitHub allows developers to post their entire software project online and share it with others, allows people to browse the source code and all of the files that make up the application, make a copy of it, and even contribute back to the original project. Using GitHub, Boston's civic hacking group was able to get a copy of the code, and create their own version of the flu shots application in less than 36 hours.
By using open source licenses when building our work, we can allow this type of rapid application reuse when other cities need it.
Partnering with people who need to use the data is very important in building a useful application.