Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What's the difference between an "Ideathon" and a "Hackathon"?

A: 'Hackathons' focus on developing working prototypes over a short period of time, often (but not always) in the form of software. 'Ideathons', on the other hand, focus on developing action plans to improve the status, based on thorough research of the problem area.


Q: How is this "Ideathon" structured?

A: At this Ideathon, teams will choose between one of two tracks. Each track poses a broad problem statement. Teams are then responsible for identifying a specific issue within that broad topic that they believe (and can support with evidence) would be the most impactful to focus on.

Once they've identified that specific issue, teams will develop a defensible action plan to address it. We encourage teams to think cross-functionally across approaches in engineering, city planning and policy as they develop this plan. The best plans will consider aspects of all three areas.

The thought process behind choosing the issue, and the proposal to address it, will then all be packaged into a pitch. While the structure of your pitch is up to you, you must meet the submission 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


Q: Do I need to know how to code?

A: Absolutely not! Urban and civic issues are by nature inter-disciplinary, so we want participants with diverse backgrounds. Regardless of whether you're a political science student, or a civil engineer, your perspective is valuable.


Q: Will this event require me to stay up for 48 hours straight?

A: Definitely not. We know that Hackathons can sometimes get a bad rap for hyper-caffeinated, sleepless nights. That's not the goal here. In fact, we'll have a focus on wellness during this event - break times, virtual fitness sessions, etc. At the end of the weekend, it's the team with the best plan, not necessarily the team that puts in the most hours, that will come out on top.


Q: How many hours will I have to work on this over the weekend?

A: Like other hackathons / design challenges, how much work you put in is ultimately up to you and your team. However, we recognize that people have other responsibilities (school, family, etc), and so we're designing our problem statements & submission requirements under the expectation that the median team will be able to dedicate ~12 hours to their proposal over the course of Saturday and Sunday.

Out of that time, we encourage participants to spend about 1/3 of it on picking a specific issue within the problem track. You will need to defend that choice in your final pitch!


Q: What is the schedule for the event?

A: This is the tentative schedule 


  • 7:00 pm PT - Opening ceremonies & Keynote speaker
  • 8:00 pm PT - Social time / Team forming


  • 10:00 am PT - Final teaming sessions
  • 11:00 am PT - Competition kick-off
  • 11:30 am , 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 4:00pm, 5:00pm PT - Expert Speakers
  • TBD - "Wellness Session 1"
  • 6:00 pm PT - Evening check-in + social activities


  • 10:00 am PT - Morning check-in
  • TBD - "Wellness Session 2"
  • 5:30 pm PT - Evening check-in
  • 6:00 pm PT - Closing Keynote


  • 5:00 pm PT - Award ceremony & event closing


Have another question?

Reach out to our organizers: