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Seattle asking local hackers for new ways to inform the public of severe winter weater

The first snow for Seattle has already arrived and it’s a fairly certain bet that it won’t be the last. Considering that Seattle is the home to some of tech’s biggest names, it makes sense that the city is calling on some of the best and brightest minds in the area to come up with new ways to better inform the public when the snow is about to hit. As anyone who lives in a snowy area can attest, if you know it’s coming, you can better plan for it!

The city is hosting a community design workshop (read: Hackathon) called “Let It Snow” on Thursday December 15 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. PT at Substantial, with Open Seattle also getting involved. Open Seattle is a local group that “focuses on addressing civic issues via technology” according to the Eventbrite site, which is where you go to register.

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According to GeekWire, Seattle mayor Ed Murray and Substantial CEO Jeremy Borden will be on hand at the event and the city will lay out existing snow response plans, the current Winter Weather Map, and will provide open data that can be used for building new apps. The Eventbrite site says the attendees will split into groups and Mathias Burton from Open Seattle will run a two-part workshop to brainstorm “ways the City could better meet Seattle residents’ information needs.” Space is limited to just 30 participants, with beverages, snacks, and necessary materials provided. You just bring your “curiosity and willingness to participate.”

As GeekWire notes, this isn’t the first time Seattle has “tapped the city tech talent pool.” Two years ago the Seattle Police Department asked for help to figure out how to redact video streams recorded by officer body cams and cruiser dashcams, and last year it called a “Hack The Commute” event to come up with ways to fix the city’s transportation problems.

A note from the event website: “For this event, an RSVP is not a guarantee. While we hope to be able to accommodate everyone, our goal is to design for the diverse range of Seattle residents and their needs. We reserve the right to prioritize attendees from underrepresented groups. We will notify guests by December 12 if your RSVP is confirmed. Thank you for your understanding.”

Tech knowledge is power, and is mightier than the average snow shovel. And if the hackers can’t come up with anything substantive, maybe Seattle can just put in an order for several hundred of these “Snowbots.”