Looking for HubHacks2 (Spring 2015)? Click here!

Mayor Martin J. Walsh made a commitment early in his first tenure to make processes like Permitting easier on Bostonians, from individuals hoping to start small businesses, to developers and contractors, to  homeowners looking to make additions on their homes. In addition to a full review of the permitting application process and portal, Mayor Walsh, along with the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM), is inviting IT developers and members of the Boston community to come together for HubHacks, the City’s first-ever civic minded Hackathon.

At this in-person Hackathon, developers are invited to work together to attempt to solve a series of challenges that represent the most pressing pain points for those seeking permit applications. Teams can pick among four available challenges related to the permitting system of the City of Boston. On the second day, teams will present their solutions and those with the best ideas for each challenge will be recognized. The challenges include:

  • Which Permits Do I Need?: A single project may require multiple permits. Applicants need a clear, intuitive, and enjoyable guide that will help applicants identify the permits they need to start working!

  • What’s my Address of Record?: Every project needs to be linked to an address in the City’s master database.  In the current system, finding your address is tougher than it should be. Our new online system needs a clear way to search addresses and suggest alternatives, getting it right the first time.

  • Can I Apply for that Permit Online?: With September 1st weeks away, developers will try their hand at a challenge to provide a very practical solution using the City’s new API - creating a simple online and/or mobile application for Street Occupancy permits required to block space for a moving truck.  

  • Where am I in the Approval Process?: Complex building projects can take months to review and permit, even if the process works correctly. Residents needs a clear way to track all permits associated with their project, which helps them understand how close they are to getting underway. 

The schedule for the two days will be as follows, but is subject to change:

Saturday August 9th

9:30 a.m. - Breakfast available for participants

10:00 a.m. - Opening remarks from Martin J. Walsh, Mayor, City of Boston; Jascha Franklin-Hodges, CIO, City of Boston; & Matt Mayrl, Deputy CIO, City of Boston

10:30 a.m. - Brainstorm, Team Recruitment and Pitching

11:15 a.m. - Open Workshop Hours Begin

11:15 a.m. - Optional session on technical aspects, API, process documentation

11:45 a.m. - Optional session on process for RFP

*N.b., on-site food, snacks and beverages will be available from Brew and Gather throughout the day (Brew will close at 4 p.m.) Participants are able to work at District Hall as long as it is open (2 a.m.), but City staff and advisors will no longer be available on-site after 5 p.m.

Sunday, August 10th

9:00 a.m. - Open workshop hours begin, coffee available for all participants starting around 10. Additionally, Brew will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Noon - Advisors will be on site and available to consult or answer questions from teams.

2:00 p.m. - Submission deadline for teams to upload files to Challengepost site, teams on-site will then present their hacks. When all teams finish, challenge winners will be announced.

We want to extend our thanks to BattleHack: Boston, also the weekend of August 9th and 10th. Some participants at that event will be working to build hacks for the greater good of the city while also taking on our challenges. More information for hackers and developers of all sizes at BattleHacks.


Participants will be given access to detailed rules, requirements for submissions, and necessary files/APIs to create working Web applications that meet one of the above challenges.


Submissions should be functioning web or mobile apps that meet one of the four challenges presented.

Hackathon Sponsors


Recognition Will Be Announced Later

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


Harlan Weber

Harlan Weber
Brigade Captain, Code for Boston

Doug Williams

Doug Williams
VP of Engineering, RunKeeper

Korinn Koslofsky

Korinn Koslofsky
Owner, Ula Cafe

James DiSabatino

James DiSabatino
Owner, Roxy's Grilled Cheese

Judging Criteria

  • Addressing the Challenge
    The tool successfully answers the primary question of the challenge. It is a finished product that would is easy, clear and predictable for the average Resident.
  • Creativity & Innovation
    The tool provides a great user experience, based on clever design elements and innovative capabilities.
  • Use of City's API and Data
    The tool successfully utilizes information and the API provided by the City to access the Permitting process.

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