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Local agencies hang out with hackers for your benefit

WASHINGTON – Hackers are often seen as criminals, so the last thing one would expect to hear is that local agencies are working with them. But they did this weekend, and they say it’s for your benefit.

“Hack for Change” is the slogan of this gathering of hackers and government agencies. Both sides say they’re working together in the public interest. Saturday was National Day of Civic Hacking, and another day of events will be held on Sunday in the District.

Greg Bloom with Code for DC says part of their work is breaking down the D.C. Code of Laws.

He says, “You have a team of lawyers and City Council staff and developers and some designers working on how do we best show this to the world? How do we let people use it?” He adds that all the work comes with challenges.

“We might have one or two things come out either today or tomorrow that’s even actionable, but even then those things are just first drafts,” says Bloom.

One group called Mission Launch is creating a program for the U.S. Department of Labor that helps area parolees reenter society.

“If you’re in D.C. and you come home from prison and you Google ‘help,’ you often times take a very, very long time to find help,” says Mission Launch president Laurin Hodge. “Our first problem we’re trying to solve is to aggregate resources. Let’s just make it easy for people to find it.”

Bloom, the event organizer, says there’s still skepticism to overcome on both sides. “In the end it has to be about bringing people together and helping them learn from each other, and helping them work on projects that are more about people than technology,” he says.

Other events were also held in Maryland and Virginia. DC Hack for Change has a list of federal agency challenges can be found here as well as a full list of events.

Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

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