Hacking to Improve Transit Safety for All DC Residents

On a snowy Saturday morning, 50 DC residents of diverse backgrounds and skills gathered at the OpenGov Hub for the DC Vision Zero Hackathon, organized by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the OpenGov Hub.

The day-long event let curious residents and civic hackers play with large, rich new DDOT data sets - millions of newly released data points about traffic crashes, moving violations and parking violations in the last five years. By the end of the day, groups presented 7 different innovative tools that utilized the new information/data to encourage safer behavior from and safer streets for DC drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists alike. 

Check out more photos from the event on our Flickr page here

The morning began with remarks from different DC senior public officials and a representative from the OpenGov Hub. DDOT Director Leif Dormsjo discussed the importance of Vision Zero in DDOT's overall strategy, as the city strives to minimize traffic-related injuries and eliminate traffic-related fatalities in the District by 2024. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Kenner affirmed the great potential DC has to benefit from citizen input and analysis of wide swaths of transparent government data and information. Deputy Mayor Kenner then introduced DC's new CTO, Archana Vemulapalli, who shared her enthusiasm for serving the city in her new position and helping DC continue to be as a leading city in publishing and utilizing open data and information for government services and policies.

Next, OpenGov Hub Manager Nada Zohdy welcomed attendees to the space and invited them to join the OpenGov Hub community of collaboration and learning. She spoke about the need to link global and local experiences of promoting open government reforms and civic innovation. She emphasized the Hub's interest in helping DC professionals (including many international development professionals at the Hub) apply their skills to solve very local problems - like public transportation safety - that affect us all. Then DDOT Analyst James Graham presented detailed information to the audience about the various data sets that had just been released on opendata.dc.gov

Participants then grouped together by their interest in one of 3 main Vision Zero Themes:

  1. Protecting Vulnerable Users
  2. Preventing Dangerous Driving
  3. Creating Safe Streets

Each group broke up into a few sub-groups and spend the next several hours exploring, downloading, sorting, analyzing, interpreting, creating and finally presenting their tools and findings. 

One group presented a helpful visualization of crash data by day of the week, showing what days and times accidents are most likely to occur. Another group presented a map showing both the geographical distribution and number of crashes over time, finding that the most dangerous areas surprisingly did not correlate with the areas where the most traffic tickets are given. A third group presented a prototyped way to provide cyclists real-time notifications about areas with recent bike incidents, to encourage more cautious and informed riding. Still another group presented a tool to simplify, visualize and make sense of vast amount of informations to present to busy senior officials, helping them make better informed decisions. And for pedestrians, one group presented an idea of crowdsourcing daily walking paths (especially pedestrian paths to/from home to/from their Metro or bus stop) to know when pedestrian safety may be most vulnerable. 

Check out all the fantastic work of these groups and others on the day's Hackpad! https://hackpad.com/Vision-Zero-Hackathon-Feb-13-2016-AYOGyb1TJXN

And stay tuned for updates about strengthening transportation safety for all DC residents (@DCVisionZero), and more opportunities to develop new tools with data for safer cities and better public policies, locally here in DC and beyond (@OpenGovHub).