UC Berkeley fosters incredible talent across various disciplines - engineering, public policy, city planning, business. But these communities are siloed. Together, the knowledge and skills we hold can solve critical challenges facing cities, governments, and societies.

With the support of the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and the Center for Community Innovation, Cal Civic Hacks aims to change that.

Our goal is to build a cross-functional community of urbanists, technology leaders, and policy experts interested in solving our most pressing urban and civic issues through an Ideathon. 

And that’s where you come in. We need fearless thinkers who want to solve social and civic problems in a new way, using technology, data and digital tools. 

We’ll connect you with a balanced team of other tech-savvy students such as yourself as well as students with more policy and planning-focused backgrounds. Then, over the weekend, you’ll work with this team to ideate and pitch a solution for one of our problem tracks.

Your team will be competing for cash prizes, and opportunities to actually implement your ideas!




Have more questions? Check out the 'Rules' and 'Resources' tab for more info.


Participants: Graduate and undergraduate students from any major/program who are interested in solving urban and civic issues in the Bay Area


Participants will self-organize in teams of three to four. Teaming will be facilitated through Slack and Zoom.

Each team will choose one of two tracks, each of which poses a broad problem statement for the team to investigate. Once a team has chosen a track, they should do the following:

  • Inform the organizing team to confirm their participation in the competition:
    • Each member on the team
    • Which track they've picked
    • Whether they intend to use data from our industry partners, and confirmation of signing required documentation (NDA, License Agreement, etc)

  • Identify a specific issue within their track that they think is crucial to address.
    The team should have qualitative or quantitative evidence to support their rationale for choosing this issue.

  • Develop an action plan for addressing the identified issue
    The team should think about the problem from the holistic lenses of engineering, city planning and policy, - e.g. consider a wide array of factors from implementation cost, to public perception and political climate

This work will be summarized in a final pitch. While the structure of the pitch is up to you, you must meet the following requirements.

Proposal Requirements:

  • Must be in video form, and less than 5 minutes in length

  • Integrate elements of urban planning, engineering, and public policy

  • Clearly communicate why the issue you identified should be the top priority

  • Articulate an action plan to implement your proposal

Hackathon Sponsors


$190 in prizes

Presenter at a Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative Webinar (2)

Present at a Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative Webinar (A joint initiative between Microsoft, the University of Washington, and the University of British Columbia)

Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) 2021-2022 student membership (2)

Become a Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) 2021-2022 student memberships and receive free registration for the annual meeting ($95+ total value)

Presenter at Fehr & Peers (2)

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


 Alessandra Biaggi

Alessandra Biaggi
New York State Senator

Kimberly Jackson Ulrich

Kimberly Jackson Ulrich
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Readiness at the U.S. Department of Defense

Karen Chapple

Karen Chapple
Chair of the UC Berkeley Department of City and Regional Planning

Dave Winnacker

Dave Winnacker
Fire Chief of Moraga-Orinda Fire District

Jordan Sun

Jordan Sun
Chief Innovation Officer of the City of San Jose

Elizabeth A. Deakin

Elizabeth A. Deakin
Professor Emerita of City & Regional Planning and Urban Design

Judging Criteria

  • Video Quality
    (5 = professional visuals/graphics, voiceovers; 1 = missing visuals or audio)
  • Logical Structure of Presentation
    (5 = concise, clear, logical presentation of ideas; 1 = reasoning is very confusing to follow, unclear what the project emphasizes/focuses on)
  • Social Impact
    (5 = identifies a problem that significantly impacts a population or geographic area, analyzes issue using Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) and/or Environmental Justice (EJ) lenses; 1 = problem is not applicable and/or impact is not considered)
  • Appropriateness of Scope
    (5 = the chosen scope is adequately large to meet the challenge, while not too unrealistically large as to prevent implementation of the solution ; 1 = scope is inappropriate)
  • Stakeholder Management
    (5 = key stakeholders are clearly identified, and their perspectives are prioritized; 1 = missing or no mention of stakeholders, stakeholder needs are not addressed)
  • Engineering/Technical Rigor
    (5 = engineering principles/ data are applied correctly and effectively; 1 = very little or misapplied engineering concepts)
  • Urban Planning Framework
    (5 = solution is built upon well defined urban planning frameworks; 1 = project places little to no emphasis on the built environment or misapplies urban planning practices)
  • Policy Consideration
    (5 = proposal works within current regulatory frameworks, or provides a legislative reform plan; 1 = proposal does not consider policy and/or is incompatible with current or future regulatory frameworks)
  • Uniqueness
    (5 = tackles a novel problem, approaches a problem from a novel perspective or novel set of tools, or offers a novel solution to a problem ; 1 = solution already exists and has been deployed)
  • Funding Feasibility
    (5 = project has a clear path to financially viability, whether from private or public funding; 1 = plan has little chance of attracting investment or is financially infeasible to implement)

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