Hacknight #49: July 5th – Jessica Smith Cross from Torontoist

Forty-ninth hacknight – 57 participants.

Presenter: Jessica Smith-Cross from Torontoist

Presentation: link

Breakout groups:

  • Civic Tech 101: Matthew ← go to this one if it’s your first time here
  • Councilmatic: patcon {django/python devs}
  • Ontario election data mapping: Brian {UI prototyping}
  • Sharing economy + blockchain, measuring value: Mohammed {talking}
  • FOI workshop: Jessica
  • TCHC revitalization + wifi: Nahum {talking/planning}
  • Project Lab: Gabe

Thanks to the Atkinson Foundation for hosting us, and for dinner!

2 thoughts on “Hacknight #49: July 5th – Jessica Smith Cross from Torontoist

  • Project Lab – Jul 5
    (This is our first time running “Project Lab” — a group for people who’ve done Civic Tech 101, but aren’t currently/yet actively working on a civic tech project)

    Rough notes from our conversation:

    Connecting existing projects with each other
    – So that we can apply their skills to another area
    – To build a community of people who are building the same approaches and principles
    – i.e. mental health issues identified by City of Brains that relate to refugees; connect with Welcome Home TO?
    – so that you can advocate for that together

    environmental stuff, IoT stuff, enabling communities out of their situations
    with hardware and capacity

    Community-based wireless networks
    Private networks that are easy to set up
    Have community members contribute to that
    It’s really each to set up

    Toronto employment and social services
    (I volunteer with orgs that work with refugees and newcomers)
    people receiving benefits under Ontario Works and ODSP
    a lot of issues around streamlining these people with their caseworkers
    there’s a lack of information
    I attended a session run by TESS at the 519, outlining the programs they offer
    but you talk to people who qualify for OW, and they didn’t know about them
    I even asked caseworkers, and they don’t know about them
    maybe: build a project to make this information more transparent and accessble
    especially to newcomers and people who already receive benefits
    > There’s great stuff happening related to this in the #211 channel in the CTTO Slack

    Open government’s open data push — what’s happening with that?
    > They’re doing a pretty good job! Data inventory coming in the fall
    > There’s an initiative afoot to organize a community around Ontario open data advocacy
    > Led by @bianca

    Digital divide
    Planet Geek. Meeting for 13 years, almost every Sunday. In a donated workshop space at Broadview and Danforth
    Our website is very retro looking.
    Free Geek. Reboot. Pathways to Success.
    I’m interested not in growing Planet Greek, but having other people replicate what we do in other neighbourhoods
    I’m happy to share with others how we do it!

    TOMesh: effort to try to get a grassroots wifi network going in town.
    Using devices that people set up themselves, to be a node on the network
    Not necessarily connected to the Internet. Creating a grassroots network within community.
    Solving a few problems: who controls the “last mile” of the Internet? Each household has to buy a bunch of equipment and service.
    That doesn’t seem fair — we want to solve that problem.
    Instead of a 1:1 relationship, we can share a smaller number of Internet connections
    An encrypted network also ensures net neutrality
    Also, no central points of failure
    Fantastic opportunities to do this stuff in underserved communities. Like on-reserve, low-income neighbourhoods.
    Blanket an area with cloud connectivity.
    Civic engagement, education, literacy
    It’s an open system, so it can be community-built. No need to call an expensive technician
    Build tech literacy.
    Status: The implementation is ready to go. We’re going to get a bunch of Raspberry Pis…
    We’re getting some funding from the federal government
    We have to buy some antennas.
    It’ll be $600/node. We can get that down by being crafty.
    And then there’ll be a low monthly fee for each node on the network.
    So we’ll start doing some deployment testing in August; maybe have a small network going in Sep/Oct.
    There’s a bunch of stuff happening at Maker Festival.
    We don’t have a specific neighbourhood in mind.
    > There’s lots of research that’s been done in other communities. Community wireless projects often fail.
    > Don’t wait for the tech work to be done before starting user research and community work.

    The WelcomeHomeTO comms team is willing to help out with other projects, while they’re not busy (sometimes they’re waiting for stuff)

    Non-tech community wifi group: Nahum
    * will make a channel! (#wifi-research-nontech)

    Sharing economy & blockchain
    I’m here to start a conversation
    It could become a startup or a nonprofit
    It’d be great to have some kind of educational opportunity: what’s blockchain?

    I’ve been trying to gather momentum for a small meetup/workshop
    inspired by GirlDevelopIt (like Ladies Learning Code). eventually I TAed with them
    creating spaces more accessible to women with less money, queer, trans, etc.
    We’re looking for venues. For ~15 people.
    Either social, or learning.

    Input on Project Lab:
    it was great because you had one potential project come out of it!
    once a week might be too much
    once a month is good, because some of us have their own project groups
    each week, ask how many people don’t have a project, and then decide whether to run Project Lab if there are enough
    it’s a good way to bounce ideas around
    these conversations can help people decide which project to commit to
    or maybe it can be a brainstorming lab for people who don’t want to commit
    it’s also a good space for making connections between projects. for individuals to find ways to chip in in simple ways.

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