Comment on page

Prepare the right challenges

Plan a successful scope-a-thon by helping community partners prepare right-sized challenges with a well-rounded understanding of data and technology needs.

Finding community partners

Getting the right people around the table is a challenge for any community convener. Scope-a-thon hosts should canvas their community stakeholders and identify potential partners who are working directly on local challenges, whether they're local nonprofits, libraries, city departments, or activist groups. Conveners may use open data stakeholder mapping resources to identify which community partners they already have and who they might need to reach out to for a diverse set of experiences and perspectives.
After identifying a strong list of potential community partners, conveners should collect project proposals to gauge partner interest in being a client for a tech- and data-centered problem-solving event. Conveners should be clear about the scope and potential of such an event to solve real organizational issues — technology and data can't solve everything, but they can help to make processes more efficient and to help community members stay informed.

Project proposals should gather...

  • Community partners' priority challenges
  • A summary of relevant data
  • Review of past attempted solutions
  • Potential impact if challenges are solved

Helping partners prepare

To participate in a scope-a-thon, partners will need to prepare introductory presentations to provide participants with sufficient context about their organizational mission and background. Participants will need to know what partners are looking for out of the event. Specifically, they'll need to know which challenges the partner organization faces, how they've tried to solve those challenges in the past, and how addressing those challenges with data might help partners' end beneficiaries. As much as possible, participants will also need to know which open data is available from public data providers, and which data community partners are interested in bringing to the table.
It's important that community partners consider developing "right-sized" challenges for this event. Event conveners should work directly with community partners leading up to the event to ensure that community partners have considered a wide range of potential challenges to work on with scope-a-thon participants. Conveners can help brainstorm whether challenges are appropriate for data-driven solutions and provide context on the skillsets of participants who may be in the room.