This manifesto aims to distil the thinking behind CodeTheCity into a single, brief, easily shared set of principles. If you are thinking of holding a CodeTheCity in your city you should also read our Guide to running a CodeTheCity.

Open and Free to attend

Codethecity is free to attend. Anyone can register. No one should be excluded because of qualifications or ability to pay.

Sponsorship should be distributed, so that no one organisation is ‘running the show’ if possible. Sponsors should be recognised and thanked prominently.

Non profit

No one should profit from running a CodeTheCity. Asking people to volunteer their time for a weekend for the good of their city has a very different feel if someone is making money from the exercise.


We have tremendous local authority support for CodeTheCity in Aberdeen, but this isn’t a ‘council event’. It’s being organised by a grass roots collection of individuals from business, education and local government with a shared interest in making life better. I’d strongly encourage any other cities running a CodeTheCity to involve local government early, as their support is invaluable in many areas.

Broad attendee base

To avoid a tech bubble effect, organisers should aim to encourage coders, designers, writers and service experts to attend. Depending on your background this may take some work to simply make new contacts. Do that work, it will be worth it.

Open data

The production and use of open data is at the heart of many ideas we’re looking at within CodeTheCity. We’re not limited to projects involving open data, but where appropriate, the openness of data is a primary consideration. Organisers should try to ensure that some open data expertise is available to participants on the weekend.

More than just apps

CodetheCity is as interested in creating datasets, creating arguments for projects, creating basic data ‘plumbing’, as we are in creating new apps. These infrastructure and conceptual projects may not be as immediately impressive, but can have significant impact, and can be achievable in short timescales.

Autonomous teams, well supported

Teams are free to work on the problems that they select. Organisers can propose ideas, but if a team picks a new idea and decides to work on it, they are free to do so. It should obviously relate to the event in some way, but as long as it could broadly be considered ‘civic hacking’ the organisers should support it.

City level

Where possible, projects should focus on a city level. An idea that could apply to a sports club should be examined to see if it can apply to all sports clubs in the city. Or better yet, all clubs in the city. Don’t fix a problem for community centres, fix it for ‘venues’.

Share, share, and share again

Showing your working, documenting your research, and sharing your process is as important as open sourcing your code. It makes it easier for other teams to pick up your work and improve it. While any platform can be used, we recommend SHARING projects within the codethecity organisation on github.

Participant agreement

Each event should link to the participant agreement as part of the registration process, and all participant should agree to the agreement as part of registration.