Background

What is Open Data?

In 2009, President Obama launched the “Transparent and Open Government” initiative in a memorandum, signalling that government should be transparent, participatory, and collaborative. As part of this initiative, Data.gov was launched and now contains over 160,000 datasets, free to the public to use. Thus, the open data definition reads:

“Open data is data that anyone can access, use, and share” (Open Data Institute)

…and THAT’S what the Purdue IronHacks are all about: Using open data to create something novel!

IronHacks: Hacking for real world impact!

To foster the adoption of open governmental data, federal agencies and cities make use of contests and competitive crowds to spur innovation in the hopes of creating applications that create value for the market. However, such contests often fail to tap into the collective knowledge of the hackers crowd, provide little feedback that guides hackers in creating useful applications, and support little re-use of knowledge about useful features, successful algorithms, that can be integrated and remixed in novel ways.

Starting Fall 2015, The Purdue Research Center for Open Digital Innovation (RCODI) will launch a new groundbreaking area of research geared towards helping the design of successful idea competitions so that these can more efficiently spur innovation for a higher economic and social welfare at the regional, national, and global scale. With a focus on transparency rather than just participation as a means to foster innovation, The RCODI will run a series of 3-weeks open data hacks, the Purdue ‘IronHacks’, that aim to spur civic innovations. The project is focused on the role of transparency as mechanism to spur innovation among that hackers and create open data solutions that are actually used.

The IronHacks


In joint collaboration with several Open Data organizations, experts, Purdue Hackers and local city councils, and supported by The National Science Foundation (NSF), The RCODI will engage over 400 students in 4 IronHacks over 2 years in using open datasets from Data.gov and local governmental datasets from Lafayette and West Lafayette, Indiana. Using these datasets and under the mentorship of skilled technical evangelists the students will combine and recombine various types of data to develop unique and novel solutions that meet performance goals in terms of market demand, technological demand, and usability.

The IronHacks represent the true spirit of Purdue: working arduously to solve pressing problems that change the world. With this series of hacks, The RCODI will advance research on how we can better use open data and turn them into novel and useful applications. Furthermore, it will provide guidance for better designing hacks and contests for the generation of novel solutions to pressing issues on a regional, national, and global scale.

Be part of the movement!


You love coding, you love getting better at coding, you do not see obstacles but possibilities, and you wish to make a change in society. If you think just one of these criteria fit, you are eligible to compete in the four IronHacks! Joining fellow peers in an inspiring and competitive environment and under the guidance of leading technical experts in Open Data, you will apply theoretical learnings from Purdue and improve on your coding skills in a hectic environment. There will be numerous prizes to be won, including but not limited to: conference presentations of winning projects, field trips to company HQs, paid internships, gadgets, giftcards, money, and much much more. Stay tuned for updates, or if you just cannot wait, shoot us an e-mail – it is never to late to join the movement!

For more information please contact:

  • Dr. Sabine Brunswicker, 765-494-1008, sbrunswi@purdue.edu
  • Priyank Jain, jain206@purdue.edu
  • Pooja Shevade, pshevade@purdue.edu
  • Jia Lin Cheoh (Jay),  jcheoh@purdue.edu
  • Danny Sierra, dsierra@purdue.edu