Dallas Makerspace's Civic Hacking Committee wants to help you create applications that will be *actually* useful in the event of a major telephone or power outage!

"We discussed doing something that night but since the weather had predicted storms, we decided not to venture out. Her daughter was late picking her up at work and she finally left 15 minutes before it hit her building. I was frantic trying to get in touch with her as my phones (both cell and house) went dead. She had no electricity therefore she had no T.V. and didn't know her building had been hit for several hours. We were very blessed that she was safe and unhurt."

- Account from the Fort Worth tornado (pictured), and a friend who worked at that building in the picture, March 28, 2000: http://www.tcwda.com/arch001.htm


Weather in Texas (and the whole mid-section of the US) has a propensity to get really severe in April and May.  Past hackathons that have focused on this issue generally promote mobile apps, which might make people feel all warm & fuzzy when they make something cool... until they can't get through to anyone else because telephone & data service has been lost, or is so saturated with other traffic that communication goes very slowly!  Or think about how icy it was over this past winter; is there anything you wish you had to stay better-informed?

In this hackathon, you will be invited to think beyond making strictly a "mobile app," and leverage other technologies, including but not limited to:

  • Wireless sensor networks (on an Xbee or other such communication link)
  • Ham radios
  • M2M (Internet of Things) hardware device connectivity using the MQTT or other similar protocol
  • Weather balloons
  • Your own custom prototype hardware (Arduino, etc.)
  • Smart TVs

Applications you submit must solve some sort of problem or unmet need (whether real or perceived) in any or all of these areas:

  • Imminent severe weather study, prediction, and/or notification
  • Dissemination of emergency information (weather-related or not)

Hackathon Logistics & Participation

The hackathon will be held from April 20 - May 4, when the winners will be announced.  We are hoping that two weeks will give you the opportunity to make something truly intriguing.  There will be a workday at Dallas Makerspace on April 20 between 2 PM & 6 PM where you can form teams, get started on your projects, and tap into the resources offered at that facility.  Non-members of DMS are welcome and encouraged to participate too!

Subject Matter Experts

We are looking for people that are willing to share their knowledge in:

  • Skywarn (storm spotting)
  • Emergency coordination
  • M2M applications
  • Mobile/Web development

If any of these are your job and there's something you've always wanted to see made, now's your chance to guide a team of capable developers to make it!

View full rules


Any individual or organization who is not directly involved with sponsoring or judging the Hackathon is invited to participate.  Companies with 50 or more employees are not eligible for a monetary prize.


You or your team must be registered in order to make a submission.  See the "How to Enter" section for more details.

The submission must be a unique invention or innovation that solves a problem, whether real or perceived, in the space of inclement weather prediction, reporting, news dissemination, and/or emergency management.  Some significant part of this invention must have been completed during the working period (4/20 - 5/4).  A functional product and/or slides are required to be demonstrated on Judging Day in order for a submission to be eligible.

You must own the intellectual property for the application you present, or have no conflicts with the owners of any intellectual property you use in developing your product, or have open-sourced it for all to use and share freely.

Please see the "Judging Criteria" for additional information on the properties of winning applications.

How to enter

You or your team must be registered to present by signing up on ChallengePost.  Registration begins at midnight CDT (the very beginning of the day) on May 2, 2014 and ends on May 4, 2014 at noon CDT.  To enter your submittal, log into your ChallengePost account, register for this hackathon, and fill out the fields as needed.  What you say on ChallengePost will be shared with the whole world, so please go into enough details that people can understand it.

Entrants must also be physically able to present their submission at the Dallas Makerspace on May 4, 2014 between 2-6 PM CDT.


Stephen Wylie

Stephen Wylie
Chairman, DMS Civic Hacking Committee

Judging Criteria

  • 30% - Resiliency
    The product must be resilient to network outages. The part that actually operates in the area affected by the emergency should use a technology other than WiFi or mobile data to convey messages.
  • 30% - Novelty of the idea
    Did you solve a compelling challenge, or vastly improve a current solution? Invent or innovate; don't just copy. The problem addressed must also be within the realm of preparing for/tracking inclement weather and/or emergency management.
  • 20% - Working demo
    You are given 15 days to make something work, so take full advantage of the time! It will be way more exciting to see your product in action than to just see slides about it. It's also better to get a small piece working than nothing at all.
  • 20% - Feasibility, usability
    The solution should be easy and affordable for end users (be they cities or the public) to roll out. For example, a $500 sensor network mesh will be better than a $50,000 radio antenna unless the way in which the end user harnesses the power of that mesh