A hackathon that connects data to policy challenges

More than 100 of India’s top coders and developers will be in Delhi for a two-day PolicyHack to leverage existing data to tackle real-world challenges to efficient and transparent governance


Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD), a research program based at the Center for International Development at Harvard University and IFMR LEAD at the Institute for Financial Management and Research, based in Chennai, India will host a policy-focused hackathon April 18-19 at the American Center in New Delhi, India. PolicyHack will link specific implementation challenges faced by policymakers and non-profit organisations with relevant data sets and allow teams of developers to compete to design the most interesting and exciting solutions, such as apps, dashboards, data visualizations or interactive maps. With five to six different policy tracks – such as building a job distribution system under the DDU-GKY Skills Program to provide equal employment opportunities and designing an interface to help students, teachers, and parents understand school performance and other education-related metrics – the aim is for many of the winning solutions to be directly operationalised by the event’s policy partners. “What makes this event so exciting is that while Indian government programs collect huge amounts of data, it is often not used to its full capacity to improve the implementation of the program, and thus improve the lives of the people it’s meant to serve,” said Charity Troyer Moore, EPoD India Director and a Judge of the hackathon. “PolicyHack will bring together India’s immense coding, developing and software engineering capacity to help solve some real roadblocks faced by policymakers and non-profit organizations.” Winners of each policy problem track will win a cash prize. Additionally, the winner(s) of the grand prize at PolicyHack will benefit from a two-month incubation space and mentoring at the EPoD India office in Delhi. They will also win a trip to visit the EPoD home offices at Harvard Kennedy School to spend a week with top policy and technical experts to be part of cutting-edge work at the intersection of policy and technology. Judges for PolicyHack include Rohini Pande, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, Charity Troyer Moore, EPoD India Director, Santhosh Mathew, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Rural Development, and Ajey Gore, founder of Codelgnition.