Can apps make our cities better?

Much as we love games and gadgets, all this tech we surround ourselves with is pretty much useless if it can’t make the world a better place. The great benefit of ‘digital’ is that it moves information around fast, pretty much for free. So how can we harness it to improve where we live?

That’s one of the questions that will be raised at the next Hacks/Hackers Johannesburg event on Thursday night, which will be hosted at JoziHub. Called “Hack Your City – Digitising Municipal By-Laws to Build Civic Apps”, Greg Kempe from Open By-laws will be leading the discussion around how technology can be used to scrape, collate and disseminate important data about the place you live, thus improving access to information and open democracy far better than gimmicky cameras in a celeb’s courtroom ever will.

Open By-laws is an intriguing project, but very much a work in progress at the moment. Currently, if you live in Cape Town, you can use it to find all laws which are strictly relevant to the place you live. All the data held is in the public domain, and Open By-laws offers APIs for other developers to create new tools on top of its work.

The project is sponsored by Code4SA, the Shuttleworth Foundation and the African Media Initiative, and is looking to parcel up local data for the whole country as it progresses.

Interested? Here’s the Meetup page for the event. It kicks off at 6.30pm on Thursday 13th March at JoziHub (directions in the link).

[Main image – CC Lars Heifner]


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