Jesse Bounds's blog

Houston Hackathon v5

Another year and another incredibly successful Houston Hackathon in the books! The City held its 5th Annual Houston Hackathon on May 20-21 at the Houston Technology Center in partnership with Sketch City, a nonprofit community that advocates for civic technology and open data. More than 300 software developers, designers, and data analysts attended the event pitching ideas, forming teams, and developing innovative new websites, mobile apps, and insightful data visualizations to address community and City problems.

The Mayor’s Office of Innovation & Performance helps host the Hackathon every year, serving as the City subject-matter experts, data stewards and general brainstormers. One of our own, Steven David, led a project team that developed a smoke detector risk model that will inform which neighborhoods and block groups our Fire Department will target with fire alarm installations. Saving lives through data!

The Hackathon is over, but the Innovation Team’s work has just begun. Over the coming months, we’ll be working with teams from the Hackathon to carry their projects across the finish line – whether it is adopting and incorporating solutions into existing City programs or promoting and facilitating projects that go beyond the walls of City Hall.

To view all submissions visit:

2017 Hackathon Winners:
Houston Adopt-a-Drain - which allows citizens to adopt storm drains and notifies adopters when a major storm event is coming so they can clear their adopted drain inlets.

NeedHOU - created a comprehensive database for community service providers to more appropriately and easily refer clients to resources in the community.

Houston Book Link - allows users to search the resources of both Houston Public Library and Harris County Public Library Systems' in a single site.

PAIR (Polluted Air) - Sends users a notification when nearby air quality sensors detect a moderate or dangerous level of pollutants and allows users to easily report air quality violations to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

For further details about the City of Houston's Hackathon please visit:

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Rice, City Of Houston To Join National MetroLab Network

Network to focus on solutions to infrastructure, city services, civic engagement challenges

September 14, 2015 -- Rice University and the City of Houston will join forces with 20 other cities and 25 other universities from across the country to create MetroLab Network, a network of universities and city governments charged with collaborating on solutions to the challenges confronting urban infrastructure, city services and civic engagement. The partnership was announced today at a Smart Cities event held at the White House.

The partnerships, made up of university representatives and city decision-makers, will use technology and analysis to research, develop and deploy solutions to the problems facing the systems and infrastructure on which urban citizens and regional economies depend. The network will focus on common challenges facing cities and develop shared, scalable solutions that can be deployed across the network.

The projects can be undertaken solely by a city-university partnership or by a team of city-university partnerships facing similar challenges so they can leverage network resources and expertise. The MetroLab Network will be organized and operated by a management team, initially led by Carnegie Mellon University.

“One of Rice University’s ongoing priorities is engagement with the city of Houston, and the MetroLab Network is an ideal way to build on our existing efforts,” said Rice President David Leebron.

“We’re thrilled that Rice and Houston are part of the MetroLab Network,” said Bill Fulton, director of Rice's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, which will be the network's main point of contact for the Rice and city of Houston partnership. Experts at the Kinder Institute will play a role in putting the available data into context and generating ideas about which urban problems that data can help address. “The time is right for a great research partnership that will help Houston -- and other cities as well,” he said.

“Rice University is one of this nation’s finest institutions of higher learning,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is a 1978 graduate of Rice. “Some of the best research minds around are available right at our front door. This partnership will allow us to tap into that wealth of knowledge to gain answers that will help us make informed future decisions in key areas.”

During the 2015-16 academic year, each city-university partnership will focus on three research projects to be completed by the end of the year. The city of Houston-Rice University projects will be:

Impact of housing change on neighborhoods and families
Significant anecdotal evidence indicates that in Houston, as in other large cities, families of modest means are being displaced by “gentrification” in neighborhoods close to the downtown area and being pushed to locations farther away from jobs and transit. Using city and county permit data on construction, demolition and substandard housing, Rice researchers will document the characteristics of housing and housing change in particular Houston neighborhoods, and compare them with current and changing neighborhood demographics. This research will be used to inform future housing and infrastructure policy in the city.

Impact of streetlights and neighborhoods
Using geographic information systems data about the location of streetlights and billing data about streetlight usage, Rice researchers will map streetlights in Houston and also map and analyze patterns reflecting when streetlights are in use or out of service. The streetlight data will be examined against data associated with neighborhood characteristics, crime, traffic accidents and other factors. This research will be used to inform the city’s decisions about where to locate new streetlights and how to prioritize streetlight repair.

Bike-share analysis
Using data provided by B-cycle, which operates Houston’s bike-share system, Rice researchers will conduct an analysis of bike-share usage and accessibility of bike-share station locations. Houston trends will be compared with trends in Austin, Fort Worth and Denver using data provided by B-cycle. This research will be used to assist the city of Houston and B-cycle in decisions about future locations of bike-share stations as well as improved management and operation of the bike-share system.

For more information on the MetroLab Network, visit

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4th largest U.S. city seeking Enterprise Data Officer

Are you interested in cities and the power of data to deliver insights, and a more effective and sustainable government?

The City of Houston is building its Enterprise Data Analytics program and is looking for a few good data wranglers who want to transform the way government does business. More than that, we need a leader.

Our team of developers, DBA’s and data nerds help staff unlock the value in the city’s vast network of databases. The information we provide leads to better decisions, and drives significant operational and financial improvements. In one project, we used data from a handful of operations to create a positive revenue impact of $20 million and counting.

Our mission: Lead a citywide data analytics program that is agile, documented, scalable and secure using the most modern technologies available. We work in partnership with our business - closely with the Houston Performance Improvement team - and our ultimate goal is delivering data and analyses that people actually use.

When not teaming up with our civil service colleagues, we’re the tech brains charged with rebooting the Houston open data initiative in partnership with Open Houston and our fellow Houstonians. Simply put, we aspire to be at the forefront of civic technology and data analytics innovation with other leading cities.

We do this work for the place we call home: Houston, Texas. Houston, the world’s energy capital, is internationally known for its economy, jobs, and low cost of living. But that’s not all. We are a top destination for engineers, technologists, and college grads. Our theatre, arts and restaurant scene are second only to NYC. Other recent recognitions include “Most diverse city in America” and America’s “Coolest city.”

The Job - Enterprise Data Officer

As Enterprise Data Officer (EDO), you will design and execute Houston’s data and analytics strategy, driving rapid growth of our data environment. You will manage multiple teams over data warehousing and analytics, open data, and location based data and services (GIS). As the lead on enterprise data, your role is to guide the teams that build and enrich online information for our users, converting messy and fragmented data into knowledge. This involves data acquisition, processing, management, and auditing, as well as maintaining sound architecture and systems integration techniques.

More than just the technical aspects of enterprise data, you will serve as the champion for data and analytics to both internal operating departments, as well as with the community. This role needs someone who has a vision, understands the value and opportunities with enterprise city data, and who can engage the city’s users as its Chief Data Evangelist.

Skills, Experience, Expertise

We’re very interested in hearing your story and how you can help us build a better city. We’re generally flexible, but the below may help as a starting point:

  • BS in Computer Science or related systems training, MS preferred.
  • 5+ years of software engineering with focus on data analytics, data management, GIS.
  • Demonstrated experience with complex relational, spatial, and/or NoSQL databases.
  • Experience working with APIs, web services, custom systems interfaces (JSON, XML), github, open source.
  • Passion and Excitement for the public sector and mission driven work that makes an impact on the community.

Why Us?

Broadly, you’re interested in:

  • Immersion in civic urban innovation.
  • Exciting, start-up work environment inside government (new and innovative programs don’t come every day).
  • Exposure to and immersion in Houston open data innovation and start up network and events.
  • Build knowledge of public sector challenges facing our country, and develop solutions.

Get in Touch

Send a short cover note, CV/resume, LinkedIn, and any online portfolio/GitHub link to

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