Five Hackathons to Look Out for This Month

Yes, you can hack music. And food, too.

If you think hackers the people are stealing your credit card information or your Facebook password, you’ve got the wrong guys. Hackers create new things, like mobile and software applications, to solve a community’s problems. This type of innovation often happens at hackathons, where developers and programmers can team up with industry experts to solve problems on an accelerated schedule. Boston has hosted some notable hackathons this year already, like the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” Hackathon at MIT. This month, these five hackathons are setting out to shake things up.

Civic Tech Challenge

More than 1,000 students in 20 Boston-area schools are looking for ways to solve the city’s community issues as a part of the Generation Citizen action civics program. The day-long Civic Tech Challenge will crank out solutions to problems like public transit affordability, local violence, and youth jobs. The hackathon will kick-off with a welcome from the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and keynote speaker Jeff Bussgang, of Flybridge Capital Partners. A total of 10 judges make up the event’s judging panel, including Boston’s Chief Information Officer Jascha Franklin-Hodge.

Saturday, November 1, 9 a.m., Microsoft N.E.R.D Center, 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge,


Historython is a hacakthon of sorts, bringing history enthusiasts together to create visual historical accounts through Hstry, software that makes it easy to create engaging multimedia timelines. “The Historython is bringing together developers, history buffs, teachers, and some students to get together for eight hours to create timelines about whatever they’re interested in,” says Hstry’s cofounder and CEO Thomas Ketchell. The education and technology startup originated in Belgium and moved to Boston earlier this year to participate in the LearnLaunchX accelerator. It gained popularity after recreating Paul Revere’s ride on Twitter.

Saturday, November 8, 10 a.m., LearnLaunch, 31 St James Ave.,

Hacking Music

Hacking music doesn’t mean figuring out how to get rid of Pandora ads for free. Developers, programmers, industry insiders, and musicians will come together at Hacking Music to come up with innovative music applications. But what exactly does that mean? “Anything goes as long as it’s music-related,” organizers say. Spotify, Rdio, and Twilio will be presenting their APIs at the hackathon, enabling developers to design applications powered by the respective company’s services.

Saturday, November 8, 9 a.m., Microsoft N.E.R.D Center, 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge,

Public Safety Hackathon

Harvard Ventures and’s second annual Public Safety Hackathon will work on bridging the gap between IT and public safety again this year. Police officers and other public safety officials will collaborate with developers to foster innovation in the sector. The judging panel consists of’s general manager and founder/CEO of Familiar, Marcus Womack, and Scott Greenwood, General Council to the ACLU National. The Sheriff of Essex Country, Frank Cousins, is also expected to attend. Winning categories include best overall project, best law enforcement app, and best civilian app, with the top prize being $1000 cash and a trip to’s offices in Seattle.

Friday, November 7, 6 p.m. through Saturday, November 8, 7:30 p.m.,

Hack Urban Food

Yes, it’s even possible to hack food. Branchfood, a resource uniting the community of food startups, is hosting Hack Urban Food. The food hackathon will attempt to solve issues in the food industry from production and distribution to processing and consumption. Experts like JD Kemp from CropCircle Kitchen and Rachel Greenberger from Babson Fool Sol will help identify gaps in the industry and work with hackers to create solutions in areas like restaurant operations, institutional food (college dining halls can always use some help!) and urban farming. Teams will be competing for a $5,000 grand prize along with $10,000 in legal services.

Friday, November 14, 5 p.m. through Saturday, November 15, 9 p.m., General Assembly & WeWork, 51 Melcher St.,