Hacking For Change: My Experience At National Day Of Civic Hacking

Improving society is one of our core missions at Rackspace. We want to make our communities and the world a better place.

Earlier this month, Rackspace sponsored and participated in a National Day of Civic Hacking at St. Edwards University in Austin. National Day of Civic Hacking brings together citizens, developers and entrepreneurs who collaborate to create, build and invent new solutions and software using publicly-released data, code and technology to solve challenges relevant to neighborhoods, cities, states and the nation. The ultimate goal is to work together to have a positive impact on society.

A group of Cloud Launch Rackers including Alan Bush, Drew Cox and Jason Swindle participated in the event and acted as live technical support, sat in with each team, designed hosting infrastructure and demonstrated what Rackspace’s award-winning Fanatical Support is all about.

I worked with Racker Nels Nelson on a project to deliver text messages to citizens when the Austin City Council discusses a particular neighborhood. We completed a non-trivial, legitimate, working product in less than 48 hours. Another Racker, Jay Morgan, was instrumental in guiding the process and design of a project called Connect2Good, an organization that links nonprofits with companies that can help them meet their needs.

See what Alan Bush had to say about the hackathon in the video below.

Harry Max, Rackspace’s Vice President of Experience Design, also served as a panel expert and gave advice and perspective to each team as it presented its project. Harry’s expertise helped the nonprofits ensure that their technology would deliver a good experience to all who interacted with it.

But the story I’m most excited about is that our participation helped prop up a new startup called Keep Austin Fed. This organization picks up unused food from restaurants and feeds people in need. Before the hackathon, Keep Austin Fed used a paper-based system that make it difficult to coordinate with volunteers around the city. Racker Joseph Palumbo helped Keep Austin Fed with its Cloud Servers and enabled developers to create a system to coordinate food pickup with volunteers via text message.

Throughout the weekend, developers, designers, system administrators and nonprofits in Austin and across the country collaborated to create software that will have a powerful and positive impact on society. If you haven’t been to a National Day of Civic Hacking, I encourage you to catch the next one that comes around. I know I am excited to see how each of these projects grows and matures.


  1. Thanks for posting the blog and the video. You and your team really embody what this movement is about! My mom has been talking Rackspace as an amazing company for years. I’m thrilled to have worked with you (as an organizing partner) on NDoCH.

    Don’t forget to submit these projects for a chance to featured at the White House, on the Hack for Change website, and/or by organizing partners and sponsors: http://www.hackforchange.org/submit! We’re taking submissions on a rolling basis until June 30th.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Great write up on the event. The whole Rackspace team really rocked it. Its exciting to see things like this happen and really take off. Totally amazing what can be accomplished when you can connect two groups of experts for even just a small amount of time. The final presentations were actually thrilling and even moving. Seeing the very tangible tools placed in the capable handles of organizations like Keep Austin Fed was simply fantastic.

    We laughed, we cried, we drank copious amounts of coffee. Good times.


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