In June I had the pleasure of travelling to Waterloo’s Centre for International Governance Innovation, our little slice of Silicon Valley-esque architecture, for the semi-finals of 2017’s Aqua Hacking Challenge.
Corporate Knights magazine wanted a piece on this year’s topic: building civic engagement via the hack-a-thin format around saving Lake Erie from, among other things, toxic algal blooms, invasive species like Asian carp and the ever-growing worry of public apathy.
From the piece:
Before shuffling into the auditorium at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the teams stood in clusters around high tables, poring over notes and fiddling with lanyards. Some participants paced around fountains in the outdoor foyer. One man sat alone in the sun, eyes closed and hands clasped in his lap as if in silent meditation. Lights flickered, telling everyone to find a seat in the darkened theatre. The presentations were about to begin.
Ideas presented ranged from practical to doe-eyed and back again. Gamification was an early favourite of many who aimed, Pokémon GO-style, to connect people with local Erie landmarks while collecting digital tchotchkes. These teams seemed unaware of just how spatially massive Lake Erie is. Others focused on enhancing citizen science, part of a broad approach that numerous teams embraced to collect user data affecting things like beach closures.