Local Hackathon Planning Guide

Basic Guidelines  
Each local organizer is responsible for the fundraising and logistics associated with hosting their local event. The organizer is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with local partners and sponsors; this includes publicity and the use of logos.

Overall Organization 
The website of the Datafest serves as a general organizational and collaborative platform. Please check pages under the Resources tab to find out more. At the same time, organizers can use other tools to handle logistical details specific to their location. Similarly, we’ll be using Twitter hashtag #americasdf to communicate globally. For the discussions specific to your location, please use hashtag #americasdf_YourCity.

Suggestion & Observations 
  • Participation: On average, around 50% of those who register tend to actually participate. 
  • Teams: Mixed teams made up of subject matter experts and technologists tend to create better projects
  • Judges: Similarly, a mixed panel of judges, consisting of subject matter experts and technical specialists tends to provide a better evaluation of projects. 
  • Presentations: Standard times for presentations are between 1 and 5 minutes. It’s a good idea to use a half-time visual signal to inform the presenters of the remaining time. 
  • Prizes: A winning team must be able to share the prize among its members. 



Must Have:

  • The place is sufficiently large for the expected number of participants.

  • The space is available throughout the weekend.

  • Reliable electricity supply

  • Broadband Internet access

  • Tables and chairs

  • Bathrooms

Nice To Have: 

  • A large room for the opening ceremony and presentations and smaller rooms for group work and workshops (if the latter are offered).

  • A location that is reasonably easy to reach

  • A building that is reasonably easy to access on weekends


Hacker, maker and coworking spaces. Also, as you reserve the venue, start preparing for the post-event logistics. Find out what the building requirements are and whether you you may need volunteers to help you with the clean up.

Food & Drinks  

Must Have:

  • 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and a dinner over the course of a weekend

  • A sufficient supply of snacks and beverages (especially caffeinated drinks) 

Nice To Have:  

  • Fresh fruit, nuts and other healthy options.

  • An overnight supply of snacks and drinks for those who may stay up the entire night.


Approach local businesses for sponsorship: They are interested in supporting the local community that supports them. Restaurants may be interested in donating meals in exchange for publicity that can generate more traffic for them. Retailers may likewise donate food and beverages and they can also help you bring in more sponsors, namely, those companies whose products they sell. 

Electricity & Internet Access  

Must Have:

  • A power strip per table and at least 1.5 plugs per participant.

  • Sufficient bandwidth to allow everyone to be online at the same time.

  • At least 2 IP addresses available per participant

  • Adequate number of pre-set guest passwords for Wi-Fi if open access is not an option.

  • Separate wired (fiber-optic) connectivity if you plan to live stream the event.

Nice To Have:  


Request your participants to download as much data and tools as possible prior to the event. You can also offer datasets on USB drives. If possible, have Ethernet available at the desks in case Wi-Fi fails. 

AV Equipment  

Must Have:

  • Projector

  • Screen

  • Microphone and amplifiers

  • A camcorder

  • A camera

  • A laptop for presentations

  • A set of adapters for video outputs (HDMI, VGA, DVI, Thunderbolt, Mini DisplayPort)

Nice To Have: 

  • A videographer

  • A photographer



Ask your participants to bring their own photo- and video cameras to capture the event and share the images on Picasa, Flickr, Youtube, Facebook and so on.


Miscellaneous Supplies  

Must Have:

  • USB drives

  • Whiteboards (or large sheets of paper)

  • Pens, pencils, highlighters, markers.

  • Disposable utensils, beverage cups, plates and napkins

  • Cleaning supplies, paper towels and garbage bags

Nice To Have: