AWS Government, Education, & Nonprofits Blog

Visualizing Diplomacy, Development, and the Environment: An ImpactHack Recap

The United States Diplomacy Center and World Resources Institute hosted ImpactHack, a data visualization hackathon in Washington, D.C. Sixteen teams competed to demonstrate diplomacy’s impact, from state economies to global issues, using their coding and design skills. Amazon Web Services (AWS) sponsored the event, donating the time of several solutions architects, technology, credits, and expertise in managing the hackathon. Over the course of over a single Saturday, these teams developed their submissions. Projects from the hackathon will be used to develop Diplomacy Center exhibit prototypes. Congrats to the three winners!

My State, My State Department: The winning project was My State, My State Department, an interactive map and game that connects the work of American diplomacy with its impact on local communities across the U.S. The team used a map of the U.S. to allow users to explore the benefits of real diplomatic negotiations to regional U.S. interests, and to test their own skills in diplomacy. The project allowed users to tweet their results.

Brianna McGowen, MyState, My State Department team member, notes, “After about two hours of brainstorming, my team knew we wanted to gamify state-by-state diplomacy and make it fun to interact with, learning not only the significance of diplomacy, but also increasing knowledge on the importance of the State Department and the impressive work they do.”

Taylor Funk, Brianna McGowan,Chaudhry Talha and Alex Cohen stands with Diplomacy Center host Kelsey Cvach after winning first place for their project My State, My State Department.

Data Ambassadors: The second place project, Data Ambassadors, showed America’s diplomatic growth over time through an interactive map. The map included historical context and a clickable timeline spanning from the birth of the United States to the present day.

Aaron Corso, a team member, notes, “Tech and data visualizations, in particular, democratize diplomacy. Living in the D.C. area makes you more acutely aware of the activities of diplomats, but for someone living in the Midwest, they may not have the same constant exposure or awareness. The projects at this hackathon showed great promise in how we can raise awareness of how American diplomacy affects everyone by putting you in the driver’s seat.“

Global Movement: The third place project, Global Movement, addressed the factors that relate to refugee rates, including a country’s relative freedom. This high school team drove down from New Jersey to participate in the hackathon after winning a travel sponsorship for their diplomatic relationship simulator in another hackathon in May.

The United States Diplomacy Center will be the first museum and education center to tell the story of the history, practice, and challenges of American diplomacy. Through exhibitions and programs, the Center will inspire the American public to discover diplomacy and how it impacts their lives every day.