Hackathon takes place

Oct. 20-22 @ 2222 Bull St.

Check-in, kickoff reception and panel begins at 6:00 p.m. Friday.

Time Left To Hackathon Kickoff

Hack for Savannah Event Overview

Details, judging criteria, venue, hosts, team formation.
Hack for Savannah Event More than 45 Open Savannah brigade members and community residents got together Aug, 9 for a hacknight dubbed "SavMaps," in which they mapped out all social service resources in Chatham County in less than three hours. Check out what they built >>

"There is no expertise more valuable than locality knowledge." - Jane Jacobs
Who should come/what if I'm not a coder?

If you’re passionate about Savannah, if you think you can help make it more democratic, and if you believe in the power of code to facilitate change, you should come! Civic hacking and hackathons benefit from participants of all types of backgrounds and levels of expertise. Even those with no technological skills at all can play vital roles in researching, designing, and launching projects. Subject-matter experts are essential to the quality, sustainability, and scalability of a project. Content experts and partner organizations contribute extensive, nuanced knowledge of the subject matter; they help guide and structure a project so that it tackles key needs, creating the greatest possible impact. No specific technological skillsets will be needed for you to make a meaningful contribution to the hackathon.

Want to help build stuff that matters? Want to have a fun time meeting new. interesting, and creative people from the Savannah area? Want a chance to win up to $3,500 doing it?

Open Savannah’s first-annual “Hack for Savannah” civic hackathon (see What is a civic hackathon?”) is absolutely free to participate in, and the civic technological solutions you build could end up being officially adopted by the City of Savannah or Chatham County.

The hackathon is being held to mark Code for America's annual National Day of Civic Hacking, an annual day of action to convene coders, bureaucrats, data scientists, journalists, user experience designers, and community activists to tackle big problems.

What is a hackathon?

Simply put, and as the name might suggest, hackathons are hacking marathons. This means that we get together for a weekend to create new projects from the ideation stage to functional (or at least semi-functional) prototypes. It’s also a great excuse to eat food, drink lots of coffee, hang out with friends and meet new people.

Who We Are

Open Savannah, the official local brigade of Code for America. We're a diverse and inclusive mix of civic-minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds who share the common belief that we can make government work better "by the people, for the people, of the people, in the 21st Century."

What you get

Aside from the feeling of having built something useful that improves the community, all participants will receive a healthy dose of SWAG (stickers!), access to all project assets, a cool project to add to their resume and, if your team wins, a healthy cash prize to take home! The winning team will also receive free tuition to ATDC's Startup Bootcamp.

What We Do

We meet regularly to work on civic-technology projects that best fit the needs of the entire Savannah community. Whether it's building a mobile resource directory for social services or breaking down the City's budget data, we play with civic apps and do a mix of project management, coding, documentation, event planning and designing.

The Nitty Gritty

How will it work?

Participants will work in teams of no more than five (5) individuals over two days to develop civic-tech product and startup ideas that make a difference, with an additional prize bracket for the team with the best functional prototype. Winning teams will receive a total of $6K in cash prizes, courtesy of the generosity of Savannnah Economic Development Authority (SEDA).

The Basic Details
  • All food and meals will be provided thanks to the generosity of our sponsors.
  • The event is BYOD ("bring your own device"). Please notify us by Oct. 16 if you don't have a laptop and we will seek to provide you one.
  • This is not an official City of Savannah event, but City Officials will be present to help judge and answer questions.
  • Four cash prizes will be awarded. First, second and third place teams will each receive $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000, respectively.
  • A separate $1,000 prize will go to the team with the strongest functional prototype to display.
  • The theme and the specific civic app challenge for the hackathon will be announced Friday evening (Sept. 22) at the kickoff reception.
7 expert judges
100 ticket limit
$6000 in cash prizes
1.5 days of hacking

Form your own team, or be assigned to a team upon arrival based on an equal distribution of skillsets at the event kickoff.

Register Now

Hackathon Myths

It's all about the product

When the term hackathon comes to mind, we tend to think solely of which team has the strongest deliverable. At their core, hackathons are about devising a feasible, effective, smart solution that involves far more than programming neat software. They require a strong pitch, a clear competitive advantage, and an in-depth analysis of the solution.

Everyone who attends is a 'computer' person

This myth couldn't be further from the truth, and it creates a dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy when people opt not to participate simply because they don't know how to CD into the root directory and CHMOD the file permissions to 755. For true success, especially in a civic hackathon, a diversity of skillsets will be needed. Just because you can't write a complex JavaScript app using Angular 2 doesn't mean you can't contribute to the team's project meaningfully.

It's all about winning

Hackathons are ideal learning environments, testing your critical thinking skills and ability to solve problems creatively under tight deadlines. And if you haven't put much critical thought into why you would build something a certain way, it doesn't matter how sleek it is to use or what fancy new JavaScript framework it uses.

You have to pull an all-nighter and/or stay up overnight.

While event volunteers will be at Bull Street Labs to assist teams in shifts throughout the entirety of the night, teams by no means have to stay at BSL or go without sleep to finish in time. Sleep is important. It makes the brain function quicker. Go home and rest Saturday night if you can. At the very least, get a quick shut-eye on a couch at BSL, if nothing else!

Hackathon Schedule

06:00 pm

Carl V. Lewis

Carl V. Lewis


Open Savannah brigade founder Carl V. Lewis welcomes guests, reveals team names and team assignments are posted online. Brief 30-minute dinner reception follows.

7:00 pm

Public Official and Community Leaders

Public Official and Community Leaders

Hackathon Theme Panel

Without giving away too much of the topic, a group of community leaders will serve on a panel with City Officials to outline for participants the challenge.

08:30 pm

Caila Brown

Caila Brown

How The Weekend Will Work

To kick things off, our organizers will go over with participants the structure and timeline of the weekend. After that, groups are free to start planning their strategy and moving forward. Bull Street Labs' doors will close at midnight and reopen at 8 a.m.

08:30 am


Breakfast Served

Room B of Bull Street Labs. Team mentors will also arrive at this time to assist teams in staying within scope and timeframe of the event, as well as to help guide teams in any technology they are using.

9:00 am

Projects Begin

Teams begin work on projects if they haven't already. Mentors help guide initial phases.

12:00 pm


Lunch served in Room B of Bull Street Labs.

12:30 pm

Open Savannah Core Team

Pep Talk

Brigade members speak on what the purpose of the hackathon is, and how open government and open data can play a vital role in community livelihood.

1:00 pm

Work continues

Teams continue work on projects.

7:00 pm


Dinner catered in BSL Auditorium.

09:00 am

Three-Hour Warning

Rehearse, Review Before Pitch Session

Teams will be expected to begin rehearsing their 4-6 min. pitches are rehearsed, proposals reviewed by mentors and timing is perfected. Pitch decks, proposal document and any other requested material (prototypes) should be emailed to judging@hackforsavannah.org no later than noon.



Lunch is served before teams after project materials submitted and just before teams deliver pitches

12:45 pm


Pitches Start

Pitches delivered in alphabetical order based on team name assigned at beginnning of weekend. Pitches should be no longer than 4-6 min. per team in length. Followed by 3-4 min. of questions by judges' panel.



Judges Deliberate

Judges gather to score all project deliverables sent electronically in tandem with pitches. The top three pitches/proposals will be assessed independently, and awards given to top three (3) scoring teams based upon rubric criteria provided to teams at start of weekend. A separate winner will be selected for best working prototype.



Awards Ceremony

Winners of hackathon announced, verbal feedback provided by judges on why the winning teams succeeded and how projects could be improved upon.


Who Will Be Scoring Pitches and Proposals

Jen Bonnet
Jen Bonnet
Director/General Manager at Advanced Technology Development Center @ Georgia Tech

Jen leads ATDC’s programming on campus and throughout the state. Jen is a technology entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in biormation technology/software development, specializing in Web and mobile.

Christopher Nichols
Christopher Nichols
Lead Product Manager @ geothinQ

Chris leads the team for geothinQ, a Savannah-based startup that offers users a web application that makes land analysis simple and visual through mapping. Prior to his time working on geothinQ, he was the GIS Product Manager for Savannah-based firm Thomas and Hutton.

Kevin Lawver
Kevin Lawver
Chief Technology Officer @ Planted

Kevin Lawver is the Chief Technical Officer at Planted, where he helps connect people with jobs at startups using code. He’s the co-founder of TechSAV, organizer of the local RailsBridge chapter, runs Refresh Savannah, helps out where he can, advises startups on all kinds of stuff, and likes to bake.

Yvonne Joffrault
Yvonne Joffrault
Founder/CEO, TourBuddy Apps. Co-Founder, Flye. Principal, Blue Canyon Investments.

Yvonne is an institutional investment professional, turned tech entrepreneur, investor, and community catalyst. As CEO of TourBuddy Apps, she built a world class technology company that allows visitor destinations to easily create mobile app guides to improve their visitors' experience. Integral role in all company activities.

Cam Mathis
Cam Mathis
Director of Information Technology, City of Savannah

Cam directs the IT Department for the City of Savannah, and plays a vocal role in selecting which government technology vendors the City hires. She has been with the City of Savannah since 1995.

Nick Palumbo
Nick Palumbo
Founder, Smart Growth Savannah. President, Ardsley Park Neighborhood Association.

Nick leads the Ardsley Park Neighborhood Association, and is the founder of Smart Growth Savannah, an all volunteer organization dedicated to the promotion and development of great neighborhoods in Savannah and a Coalition partner of Smart Growth America.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to questions you may still have

For those who want to show their support and also participate in a meaningful way but who can't commit to the entire weekend, we have coordinated a shorter, low-level event with partner Live Oaks Public Library on Bull Street, just a short walk from Bull Street Labs, to hold a community-wide "Wiki-thon" from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. Saturday Oct. 21. Participants will be collaboratively building a mapped "local wiki" of locality knowledge. To sign up for the Wikithon, fill out this short form.

If you don't have a laptop and would like to borrow one to use for the Hackathon, shoot an email to yall@opensavannah.org no later than Oct. 16. We will make every best effort to procure for you a loaner computer to use.

Bull Street Labs is located in the Starland District of midtown Savannah. If taking public transit, the closest bus routes include the 4 Line, which stops at Barnard and 38th Streets, and either the 14 or the 11 lines, both of which stop at Abercorn and 38th Street (one block away).

If driving, be sure not to park in the lot directly opposite the building, as that is a private lot. Generally, there will be plenty of street parking available that no street cleaning will take place on during the weekend, and you should have little trouble finding a spot near the location.

Absolutely not! We do require that all participants under the age of 21, however, allow organizers to place a bracelet on their arm during the reception denoting their underage status.

You have absolutely nothing to fear, and only knowledge to gain from participating in the hackathon. No one starts out in this world as a programming whiz; each of us has to learn somewhow. If you don't form a team ahead of time, we will make sure to place you with teammates with complimentary levels of technology acumen, pairing up new coders with professional developers and assigning dedicated Team Mentors to assist in the learning process.

Open Savannah aims to create a safe space for participants of all skill levels, sexes, races, creeds, political beliefs, sexual orientation and gender orientation. If you fear at any point that anyone in the hackathon is 'looking down on you' or not valuing what you have to contribute because of your skillset or because of any other reason, be certain to consult our Code of Conduct, and report any and all potential violations to the Core Leadership team by emailing yall@opensavannah.org. The report will be dealt with in a swift, discrete and professional manner.

Our Sponsors

About Our Sponsors

Become a Sponsor

Interested in helping be a part of Coastal Georgia's first ever civic hackathon in its history? We're still seeking donations and in-kind contributions from local businesses, especially local food service establishments and restaurants.

View Sponsorship Playbook Get Started Today

Bull Street Labs - Main Venue

Bull Street Labs fosters creativity and innovation through casual events, enticing lectures, while providing you with collaborative workspaces. We have a range of levels that anyone can access, whether you are in dream mode or growing your small business. Bull Street Labs is proud to be the home to the many movers and shakers that make all of this possible for the Savannah Community. If you have any questions, you can reach out to each of us directly on our social media or through our contact form below. We will get back to you within 24 hours with some solid answers and get to know how you are making this community shine.

(912) 447-8457

Open Savannah at Bull Street Labs

2222 Bull St., Savannah, Ga. 31401

Coco Papy, Community Manager, coco@creativecoast.org