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Seattle Hosts 'Let It Snow' Hackathon To Help City Navigate Winter Storms

"Looking up Thomas towards Space Needle" by Alan Wu is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Local designers and developers are going to try to "hack" Seattle's snow problem.

The city is hosing the "Let It Snow" hackathon Thursday night to come up with better ways to communicate when conditions get icy. Thirty participants will use the transportation department's winter weather map and other city data.

While they might come up with an app, a web tool, or some kind of social media strategy to help the city, the event is really about getting feedback, according to Seattle's director of digital engagement, Jim Loter.

The city already has some online tools, but people can't always find them. Loter said the hackathon is one way to find out what people need, whether it's information about road closures, school closures or how clear the roads are.

"We want to keep people safe. We want to keep people informed. We want to help them make better decisions," Loter said. "So how do we get that word out? And is technology — and which technologies — the right way to do it?"

There's no guarantee the city will use what people make. But Loter said the city will try to find ways to incorporate the best solutions in to their communication plans.

A Seattle native and former knkx intern, Simone Alicea has returned to the Pacific Northwest from covering breaking news at the Chicago Sun-Times. She earned her Bachelor's of Journalism from Northwestern University. During her undergraduate career, she spent time in Cape Town, South Africa, covering metro news for the Cape Times.
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