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Seattle Social Justice Hackathon Day - 1

Nov
7
 

This weekend Seattle University School of Law is hosting the Seattle Social Justice Hackathon. This hackathon aims to bring together the tech and law communities together and build tools to help close the gap in access to justice in lower income families. More information can be found at socialjusticehackathon.com

This post is a summary of Friday evening, there will be a follow up article coving Saturday.

The way this hackathon is set up on Friday everyone shows up, both community members and participants will pitch project ideas, and then people will join up with teams that interest them.  Once teams are set up the official business is done for the evening, people are free to work as much as they would like before going home.

Saturday is when the bulk of the work gets done, starting fairly early in the morning people show up and work. There are generally breaks for meals and guest speakers, but meals are often eaten while working and talks skipped in favor of getting more work done. At 6 in the evening  everyone is going to wrap up their projects and present them in front of their peers and a panel of judges. After everyone presents and some deliberation the judges will select winners to receive a prize. The exact deatails of the prize are up in the air but it will be resources to continue development of the project. Following that everyone either goes home to catch up on well deserved sleep or indulges in a liquid vice of choice.

 

On Friday evening we kicked off with some good food catered by Seattle University and an opening speech by Hon. Don Horowitz. Following that we had the idea pitch.

Some of the highlights included.

  • An app to help people outside the banking system make record of payments,  aimed at helping people who face eviction and don’t have good records.
  • A service like separate.us for expungements. Greatly reducing the time and cost of getting a record sealed,
  • A set of open source curriculum aimed at the K-12 that helps teach some of the basic concepts of the legal system people are likely to be exposed to.

I myself ended up working on what is basically a meta triage system that curates most of its content. We aim to take people from the point where they say “I have a conflict” or “I have a question” and get them pointed at some good resources.

We got the rough outline together pretty quickly, most of the evening was spent dealing with technical issues. We plan on using QnA markup and that means installing it on our own server.  After much hassle we solved the problem by throwing a small amount of money at it, and right about then it hit midnight and we decided to call it until the next morning.