On February 6-8, over 200 software developers, designers and makers gathered at the Zillow headquarters in downtown Seattle for “Hack Housing”, a hackathon co-hosted by Zillow and the University of Washington. Teams of programmers spent the weekend using open data to build apps that help people find affordable, accessible places to live – and pitching their products in competition for a $10,000 top prize. Zillow Co-Founder Rich Barton, former White House Deputy CTO Nick Sinai, and Lisa Wolters from the Seattle Housing Authority kicked off the event on Friday. The 72-hour jam session also featured an inspiring video message from Nani Coloretti, Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Zillow uses open data from multiple federal agencies including HUD, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Census Bureau, to deliver insights and information on housing, schools, and communities as part of their living database of more than 110 million homes.
“The Hack Housing event is a blueprint for how government can use our valuable open data assets to help bring private sector innovation to tackle key policy challenges, such as helping seniors age in their homes and connecting low income renters and first time home buyers to housing opportunities,” according to Lynn Overmann, Deputy Chief Data Officer of the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Bringing together thought-leaders from industry, academia and local, state, and federal government can generate really compelling product ideas to help solve some of our most difficult housing issues and also drive economic impact.”
The teams at Hack Housing focused on user-centered design to address the needs of specific sets of users, including first-time homebuyers, older Americans and lower-income families. The White House, U.S. Department of Commerce, HUD, Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Census Bureau supported the event by providing know-how and open datasets.