Migrahack: Unraveling the Stories Behind Immigration Data
Journalists, programmers, designers and community members will come together May 31-June 2 for Chicago Migrahack, a hackathon to unravel the stories behind immigration statistics. The event’s name refers to the Spanish word for immigration, “migra.”
Chicago Migrahack, to be held in the Pilsen neighborhood, is part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. Organizers are the Institute for Justice and Journalism and RDataVox, with sponsorship by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Smart Chicago Collaborative.
“Focusing on immigration data is particularly important at this time because of the debate in Congress about immigration reform,” said Phuong Ly, executive director of IJJ, a nonprofit that works to improve media coverage of social justice issues. “The projects generated at the hackathon will help add to a more nuanced and informed discussion about immigration and its impact on Chicago and Illinois.”
One of Migrahack’s main goals is to bring together a diverse cross-section of participants. Many journalists and community members have never participated in a hackathon. Many programmers and designers have never worked on immigration issues.
The collaboration will leverage powerful assets: Journalists and community members will offer their knowledge of immigration; designers and developers will bring their tech and problem-solving skills. And the results of the hackathon will be shared with the wider world — all of the data visualization projects and work developed during the event will be open source.
“In many ways, technology and open data provide journalists with unprecedented access to information, but the gap between people who use data and technology actively and those that don’t is increasing like never before,” said Claudia Nunez, director of the hackathon and founder of RDataVox, a nonprofit network of journalists, statisticians, cartographers and programmers who collaborate with U.S. ethnic media. “Encouraging people from diverse backgrounds to learn how to mine data in the public interest, by using the continuously changing technological tools, will give our communities a voice and feeling that they belong and will empower people to stand up for themselves, and in the process, will enrich our democracy.”
The Chicago event will be divided into two parts: a training day on Friday, May 31, for journalists and members of nonprofit organizations, and a hackathon weekend, June 1-2. Participants will mine data, focusing on three major aspects of immigration: economics, education/children and enforcement. On Sunday, teams will present their data visualization projects, with the chance to win $7,000 in cash prizes.
With Chicago on the forefront of the immigration debate and the open data movement, the city is an ideal location for Migrahack. Illinois has the sixth largest immigrant population in the country, mostly concentrated in metro Chicago. The first large march for immigration reform, with an astounding 100,000 participants, was held in Chicago in 2006, kicking off a string of rallies across the country. Now, as Congress tackles immigration reform legislation, Chicago activists and lawmakers are among the strongest and most influential voices.
Meanwhile, the city is a leader in opening up digital information to the public. The Smart Chicago Collaborative was formed in 2011 by the city of Chicago, MacArthur Foundation and Chicago Community Trust to use the transformative power of technology to solve problems and improve the lives of residents. Last year, the city implemented an open data executive order to help make government operations more transparent.
“Migrahack is a central part of our National Day of Civic Hacking here in Chicago. Having a large set of developers and journalists turn their attention to a specific area of interest that affects so many people is a great example of how data can used to organize and mobilize efforts around important issues,” said Dan O’Neil, executive director of Smart Chicago Collaborative.
Migrahack will be held at Cibola, an incubator and co-working space founded in 2012 that supports diversity and inclusion in the Chicago tech community.
For more information, please visit www.chicagomigrahack.com.
Media Contact: Phuong Ly