« Startup Spotlight: LinguaSys | Main | Digital marketing: Quick tips to become your own superhero »

Open Data Jam was a time to reflect, engage and unite for a better community

By Rob Davis / @robdotd

It isn’t very often that you get the opportunity to brainstorm about the future. You may daydream here and there about it, but do you ever really consider the potential?  How would things be different? What are the steps for us to get there?  And more importantly, who will be involved in creating it?


These were the types of questions posed at the Code for Miami’s Open Data Jam held last Saturday. An afternoon accompanied by group discussions and sticky-note adventures to help us reflect on something very important, the betterment of our community. This event was part of a much larger effort, an international CodeAcross day to unite people of all backgrounds and skillsets to engage each other in the hope of a better future. How do things get better you ask? Information is part of the answer, and our access to it as well as potential uses not currently being explored made the few hours shared together seem like just minutes.

Yenesco “Nesco” Cobain, an FIU student and one of the other attendees in the breakout group on Land Use and Real Estate, had much to add. “What if someone could be alerted if they were entering a dangerous area?” he stated. Tourists could certainly use such a service, and that goes for many other areas outside of Miami as well. Another attendee suggested a heatmap of housing information emailed regularly to show new changes and trends, a useful idea for potential buyers or agents on the hunt. Permitting requirements and the need for contractor “ratings” were also brought up, a practical tool for that could be used vetting qualified and responsible builders.

Ideas blended, borrowing bits and pieces from each other, and grew into unique and actionable items. It was a humbling experience to see citizens (once called “strangers”) largely from different parts of South Florida come together for a common good. We live in these places together, shouldn’t we talk about our experiences too? Although my one regret is that I couldn’t be in two places at once, as I certainly would have enjoyed hearing the other breakout group’s suggestions. Public transportation, campaign finance, transparency in local elections, our wonderful parks, improved walkability, and the need for more “open hearts” made that afternoon time well spent. If you want to contribute to the conversation, join us on Monday night, 7pm at The Lab Miami. Everyone is welcome.

A very special thank you is in order to Ernie, Rebekah, Maggie, Xavier, Antonio, Danielle, and Chris! Thanks to PayPal for keeping us fed, The Lightbox for housing the meetup madness, The Knight Foundation for additional support, and everyone who attended for making it AWESOME!