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Getting started

Start thinking about who your event is for, including who you might invite, and who can help to facilitate.

Who is a scope-a-thon for?

There are generally two types of scope-a-thon attendees: organizational participants (who volunteer to share their challenges) and problem-solving participants (who volunteer to listen, learn, and brainstorm). Together, participants can help to
As a tool for driving social change, scope-a-thons can give voices to people working in communities where data and technology may not be the ultimate answer to the most pressing social issues. However, data and technology are often underused tools in organizations like city governments or community development nonprofits.
Scope-a-thons exist to assess, scope, and co-create manageable, tactical data solutions for practitioners working toward social good. If done well, a scope-a-thon should serve to illuminate the issues that people in underserved communities face by ensuring that data-driven solutions address real, ground-truthed community challenges.

Who should host a scope-a-thon?

City governments, nonprofits, libraries, tech enthusiasts, or local entrepreneurs can all host scope-a-thons as a means to address local issues with open data and technology. City governments, for example, might host a scope-a-thon where city departments partner with community organizations to present issues and the surrounding context, and invite problem-solving residents to propose and scope out potential solutions.
Alternatively, a library might host a scope-a-thon where local nonprofits can share their programmatic challenges, and city staff, technologists, or social science experts help solve those challenges. Anyone can host a scope-a-thon to help problem solve around local civic issues and to help build the connective tissue of your community's open data and technology environment.
In any case, it's important to ensure that scope-a-thon hosts and facilitators are able to center the needs of community members and help new data and tech experts find locally relevant solutions.

Organizing principles

  • Share knowledge
  • Work on real problems
  • Build diverse teams
  • Find the right questions
  • Practice empathy
  • Adopt shared team missions
  • Openness benefits all