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Blog:open government

The Department of Better Technology wants to get us one step closer to “Government as a platform”

In our profile series, we often ask the question: If you could design an application that would solve any problem in the world, what would it be? Clay Johnson, the subject of our most recent profile, was recently awarded a Knight News Challenge grant, so he was ready with an answer substantial enough to deserve a piece of its own. With Adam Becker, Johnson has started a company, the Department of Better Technology. They

Civic Needs App helps developers find interesting problems to solve

At a National Civic Hack Day event in Chicago earlier this month, one thing was clear: a lot of talented developers want to use their skills for a good cause. The problem is that it’s difficult to get all that talent collaborating and working on the right problems. That’s why Ryan Briones, who does civic development for the City of Chicago, came up with a new idea he calls the Civic Needs App.

Design thinking on Chicago’s crime data — Chicago Crime Hack

paper prototype from chicago crime hack

On Saturday the Knight Lab hosted its second in a series of three Chicago Crime Hacks, which help hackers explore Chicago’s crime data via the Chicago Tribune’s Crime API. This weekend, in addition to all the usual hack day activities, attendees participated in a unique design thinking exercise. After a brief bit of instruction from Joe Germuska, Heather Billings and David Eads about how to navigate the API, curious hackers, students, Knight Lab fellows and members from the

Aaron Salmon joins Knight Lab as professional fellow

aaron salmon headshot

It all started with Quake II. Aaron Salmon and his gaming buddies — his “clan,” in the parlance of the game — played the first-person shooter game feverishly in the mid 90s when they decided what they really needed was a website to track scores and records. Salmon built it, reverse engineering the whole thing using view source and eventually filling it with clan member profiles, achievement badges, downloads of maps, and screenshots

Scott Robbin joins Knight Lab as professional fellow

scott robin photo

What does it take to make Crain Chicago’s 40-Under-40 list? Well, for Scott Robbin it took creating a new way for millions of people to listen to music online while keeping a neighborly eye out for his fellow Chicagoans. All of which makes the Knight Lab very happy to have him as part of our inaugural class of professional fellows. Over the past six years Robbin has done great development work for Twitter,

Chicago Crime Hack, day one

The Knight Lab hosted its first ever hack day on Saturday and about 15 civic-minded hackers showed up to tinker with the Chicago Tribune’s Chicago Crime API. The day started with a quick round of introductions from a diverse group. Some were professional developers with day jobs building software for trading firms or IBM, while others were self-described apprentices and hobbyists. No matter, everyone seemed excited about getting to hack on Chicago’s crime