The Big Data Hackathon for San Diego aims to promote the development of data science and information technology solutions for San Diego on important civic issues related to water drought and conservation, disaster response, and crime monitoring.

Organized by the Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age, San Diego State University.



No need to have all the skills - That's what TEAMWORK is for! Please join us if your have:

journalistic, creative or innovative ideas

business or marketing savvy

Data sense or math/statistics concepts

Domain knowledge or critical thinking

Mapping or programming skills

Don't forget to tell us what roles you can play for the hackathon when you register, such as: #Developer, #Idea Creator, #Communicator, #Journalist, #Marketing, #Data Designer, #Graph / User Interface Designer, #GIS Mapper, #Entropreneur. 

Just leave a message in the Introduce yourself, any ideas you have, and what kind of teammates you're looking for after clicking the register button. For example:




  • Week 1 (First Round awards): Oct. 3 (Sat, 9am - 9:50pm) - Oct. 4 (Sun, 9am - 2pm), 2015
  • Week 2 (Second Round awards): Oct. 10 (Sat, 9am - 12pm), 2015 



San Diego State University Campus. (Peterson Gym Room 153)
5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego. CA 92182.




Email Contact

Prof. Amy Schmitz Weiss (




Datasets and Tools




Who should participate?  

Anyone is welcome to participate! Students, engineers, developers, programmers, journalists, scientists, public officials, and community members are just a few people who may find this Big Data event of interest. Participants can be teams or individuals. We encourage you to form a team (please click here to find a teammate) or we can createa team for you. 



Prizes will be awarded for the best proposals, as well as the best overall projects. 

Best Proposals
  • Most innovative idea: $200
  • Strongest teamwork: $200
Best Overall Projects
  • 1st Prize: $1,200
  • 2nd Prize: $600
  • 3rd Prize: $300
  • Social Justice Award (from SWIG): $100



This Hackathon is FREE!
Bring your ingenuity, creativity, imagination, a laptop and a charger! Food and beverages will be provided.


Expected Outcomes

  • To identify important civic issues in the San Diego region that can be potentially explored or solved through the lens of Big Data Science and Software Development.
  • To build a community of educators, students and the wider San Diego community around a specific civic issue that has far-reaching impacts for the future development of Open Government and Open Data in San Diego.
  • To contribute to the initiative of the Big Data Science Education Program (certificate programs and a possible MS program at SDSU).
  • To encourage Hispanic and minority students to learn computer science and programming skills for their future careers (SDSU is a Hispanic-serving Institute).



a. How to enter the hackathon?

Please see the below "How To Enter".

b. How can I find a teammate?

Head over to the participants page and reach out to a fellow participant.

c. What should we create?

Your mission is to create a  web/mobile app, data services/API or an interactive map/infographic to identify or solve the civic problems for San Diegans.

d. How to submit your project?

1. You need to register the hackathon before submiting your project. 
2. During the hackathon week1 period (10/3 and 10/4), you can click "Enter a Submission" on to submit your project.
3. You can create a project or link to the existing project to introduce your project and your team members. You are encouraged to create the project page on 10/3 so that we can know more about your project and assist you.  
4. Then, click "Submit to Hackthon" to finish submitting (Don't worry. You can always edit the submission before the deadline of submission).
5. Besides creating a project, you can also submit your slides into .
6. Please see more detail at here

e. Where should my team put the project?

1. You are encouraged to put the project on a PUBLIC repository of Github
2. Each team will be given a Github repository to put their final project/app/maps in the public Github.
3. The public and judges can test the project/app/map directly within the Github repository.
4. If you are not familar with Github, don't worry. We can help you!

f. What is the Intellectual Property of Codes and Apps created within this Hackathon?

All outputs and codes should be saved in the San Diego Big Data Hackathon Github Repositories, which are Open Source with Creative Commons Licenses. There is enormous value to the San Diego community by having an open repository of these outputs and codes.

g. I want to learn programming, but I don't know where / how to start. Help!

We've compiled a list of resources, APIs, libraries, and ideas just for you. See our Webpage for the list of data sources, APIs, Libraries, and ideas.


Hosts and Coordinators

  • The Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA)
  • The Lavin Entrepreneurship Center
  • The Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies (C2S2)
  • SDSU Student Associations (RSO)
  • The Society of Statisticians and Actuaries: Katy Torres and Jonathan Navarrete
  • Geography Graduate Student Association (GGSA): Emanuel Story
  • Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG): Lydia Wood
  • ACM student chapter: Isha Gautam and Sherman Marshall
  • The Student Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists


SDSU Coordinators


Partner Sponsors/Organizers

  • Eric Busboom, Executive director of San Diego Regional Data Library
  • Xavier Leonard and Jerry Hall, Open San Diego.
  • Jeff Johnson, OpenGeo.
  • Maksim Pecherskiy, Chief Data Officer at the City of San Diego.
  • David Lindsay, the County of San Diego.
  • Robert Barreras, Emergency Services Coordinator, County of San Diego Office of Emergency Services



Joe Yerardi

Data Guru/Journalist at
Data Analysis

Joe Yerardi is an investigative reporter and data specialist at inewsource, combining traditional reporting techniques with data analysis to produce investigative stories. Prior to joining inewsource, Yerardi was the data editor at the San Antonio Express-News. While in San Antonio, he wrote data-driven stories of local and regional interest, assisted reporters in utilizing data in daily and enterprise coverage and produced data visualizations for the newspaper’s print and online products. Joe holds bachelor’s degrees from New York University and a master’s degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Learn Community

Rails / Javascript

Members from Learn will be on hand to provide Rails and Javascript advice/guidance during the Hackathon. Learn is a 4 month Rails and Javascript Bootcamp. It's a full-stack immersion course where students spend three months full-time, in person, learning HTML/CSS/Javascript/Ruby/Ruby on Rails. The final part of the course is a one month internship with a local startup, where students can apply their developer skills in a real world work environment. 

Andrell Bower

Open Data Program Coordinator

Andrell Bower is the City of San Diego's Open Data Program Coordinator. The open data effort will make city data available online using open standards and lead to data analysis projects and visualizations that will give context to city data. Before joining the city, Andrell was a data, research and information graphics reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune. While there, she covered topics such as elections, water use, the local economy, and crime. Andrell earned a bachelor's degree and is completing a Master's degree from the University of Missouri.

Jim Barry

Manager, Developer Evangelism--ArcGIS Platform, ESRI

Jim is a developer community advocate with Esri. He develops custom desktop and web applications on the ArcGIS platform and has been working with GIS apps, maps, tools, and data for over 20 years. If you¹d like to use Esri technology in the solutions you build during the hackathon, Jim will be around and can help you.

Dr. Ming-Hsiang (Ming) Tsou

Professor, Department of Geography, SDSU

Dr. Ming-Hsiang (Ming) Tsou is a Professor in the Department of Geography, San Diego State University (SDSU) and the Director of Center for Human Dynamics in the Mobile Age (HDMA). His research interests are in Human Dynamics, Social Media, Big Data, Visualization, Internet Mapping, Web GIS, and Mobile GIS.

Carrie O'Connell

Lecture, Journalism and Media Studies

Teaching courses that range from Mass Media Writing to Contemporary Journalism. She has also taught courses that focus on network theory, visual communication, and media principles for various colleges in Southern California for the past nine years.

Laura Horner

Manager, Regional Planner – Readiness & Situational Awareness Program, American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties

Laura Millan (Horner) has worked at the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties for nearly 4 years, serving first as the Manager of Disaster Operations Technology and now the Regional Planner for the Disaster Services Department. In addition to managing Planning and Situational Awareness volunteers, Laura ensures the day to day readiness of the region’s state-of-the-art Disaster Operations Center. Prior to the American Red Cross, Laura worked as a GIS Specialist at the Orange County Fire Authority and earned her Master of Science in Geographic Information Systems from the University of Redlands.

Cristiano Giovando

Technical Project Manager, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Cristiano is a GIS and geodata specialist with 10+ years of international experience, strong advocate of open data and interoperability. At HOT he is leading the development of Open Aerial Map (OAM), an open source repository of aerial and satellite imagery. OAM will support humanitarian organizations that use aerial imagery for making and updating maps.


  • The hackathon is open to all individuals at least 13 years of age at the time of entry.
  • To participate, you must be able to attend the Hackathon event days (Oct. 3,4 and 10) in person in San Diego.
  • The hackathon is open to teams of eligible individuals.  If a team is entering the hackathon, they must appoint and authorize one individual (the "Representative") to represent, act, and enter a Submission, on their behalf.  The Representative must meet the eligibility requirements above.  By entering a Submission on the Site on behalf of a team, you represent and warrant that you are the Representative authorized to act on behalf of your team.
  • The hackathon is NOT open to individuals who are residents of a country, state, province, or territory where the laws of the United States or local law prohibits participating or receiving a prize in the Hackathon (including, but not limited to, Brazil, Quebec, Italy, Cuba, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and any other country designated by the United States Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control).
  • The hackathon is NOT open to any judges (see below) or any other individual whose participation in the hackathon would create a real or apparent conflict of interest.


  • You must list your skills in your DevPost profile.  This will allow us to find you a team that complements your individual expertise.
  • You must submit the source codes/app/maps into the assigned Github Repositories for your team.
  • You must provide access to and testing instructions for your submission.
  • Use any language, data source, framework, library you want.
  • If you’re submitting an existing app / project, you must include a description of what you’ve added for this hackathon.
  • Register for the Hackathon on the DevPost by clicking the “Register for this Challenge” button. To complete registration, sign up to create a DevPost account, or log in with an existing DevPost account. There is no charge for creating a DevPost account. This will enable you receive important updates and access the “Enter a Submission” page.
  • Complete and enter all of the required fields on the “Enter a Submission” page of the DevPost Website (each a “Submission”) during the Hackathon Submission Period, and follow the requirements below.

Hackathon Sponsors


$2,600 in prizes

Best Proposals: Most Innovative Idea

Best Proposals: Strongest Teamwork

Overall: First Prize

Overall: Second Prize

Overall: Third Prize

Social Justice Award (from SWIG)

SWIG would like to give the award to the team whose project best helps underrepresented groups, such as minorities and women. It can be given to any team even if they don’t have members who are considered underrepresented individuals.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

  • Create an account on or login with an existing DevPost account or Github account
  • On, click Reigster for the hackathon to register your interest in participating. This step ensures that you will receive important challenge updates.
  • When you register for the hackathon, please update your skills and leave a message in the Introduce yourself, any ideas you have, and what kind of teammates you're looking for by identifying what roles you can play for the hackathon, such as:
    - Developer,
    - Idea Creator,
    - Communicator,
    - Journalist,
    - Marketing,
    - Data Designer,
    - Graphic / User Interface Designer,
    - GIS Mapper,
    - Entrepreneur. 
    This step ensures that someone can easily find you to form a team.
  • Read the Challenge Questions.
  • Explore the San Diego Open data.
  • Create an application that uses at least one dataset from the San Diego Open data.
  • Confirm that you have read and agree to the Official Rules, and submit your application on by including a link to it, a video demonstrating how it works, a text description, and at least one photograph (Please see here for more detail).


Calvin Jung

Calvin Jung
Chief Data Scientist, Human Dynamics Center, SDSU

Amy Schmitz Weiss

Amy Schmitz Weiss
Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Media Studies, SDSU

Atsushi Nara

Atsushi Nara
Professor / San Diego State University

Eric Bushboom
San Diego Regional Data Library

Roger Whitney

Roger Whitney
Professor, Computer Science, SDSU

Xavier Leonard

Xavier Leonard
Open San Diego

Zoiner Tejada

Zoiner Tejada

Judging Criteria

  • Quality of the Idea
    Related to the themes of the Hackathon / Related to San Diego area / Impact on the Community
  • Innovativeness/Creativeness
  • Practicality/Readiness
    Is it functional? / User Experience
  • Impact on the Community
  • Open Comments
  • Technical Difficulty
  • Quality of the presentation

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