Hacking the hackathon format to empower citizens in outsmarting "smart" cities

Tomasz Jaskiewicz, Ingrid Mulder, Nicola Morelli, Janice S. Pedersen

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This paper investigates the opportunities of leveraging a hackathon format to empower citizens by increasing their abilities to use open data to improve their neighbourhoods and communities. The presented discussion is grounded in five civic hackathon case studies organised in five European cities. The research revealed specialised learning and collaborative alignment as two mutually complementary aspects of the involved learning processes, which were achieved with the help of high-fidelity and low-fidelity prototypes, respectively. Consequently, the paper identifies and discusses three main factors required to sustain social learning ecosystems beyond hackathon events, and with the purpose of democratising smart city services. These factors include a) supporting individuals in obtaining specific expert knowledge and skills, b) nurturing data- literate activist communities of practice made up of citizens with complementary expert skillsets, and c) enabling members of these communities to generate prototypes of open-data services of varying fidelity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-29
Number of pages22
JournalInteraction Design and Architecture (s)
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • learning through making
  • hackathons
  • open data
  • prototyping


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