October 2, 2012 By Sarah Rich
SAN FRANCISCO – Nine local governments have been chosen to partner in 2013 with Code for America, the nonprofit that calls on volunteers who have technology expertise to work with the public sector on open data projects and other IT ventures.
The announcement came at the Code for America Summit on Monday, Oct. 1, at the William J. Rutter Center in San Francisco.
Through the Code for America program, fellows are paired up for one year with the selected local governments so they can work together on projects that might not otherwise get done.
“Each government, in its own right, is a leader in the innovation world, and our fellows will have the chance to be at the forefront of that innovation,” said Code for America Founder and Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka, in a statement.
The 2013 local government partners — the third year for the program — will be the two Kansas Cities (Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan.); Las Vegas; Louisville, Ken.; New York City; Oakland, Calif.; San Francisco; San Mateo County, Calif.; South Bend, Ind.; and Summit County, Ohio. They were selected from a pool of 29 candidates.
Work done in Kansas City could be particularly interesting because Google is deploying ultrafast fiber-to-the-home service there in a communitywide project that some broadband experts say could change the industry. New York City, meanwhile, is trying to recover from what some have perceived to be a lack of quality control and budget discipline in large-scale projects — while the city’s digital media and Web 2.0 efforts have been lauded.
Code for America 2012 selected eight partner cities and 25 fellows. Since the program’s inception, more than 50 applications have been produced through 10 city partnerships.
During a keynote Monday evening at the conference, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter gave a taste of what the 2013 participants can expect. This year, for the second consecutive year, Philadelphia has been a Code for America partner city. Nutter highlighted several technology efforts the city is carrying out to make improvements. For example, the city’s government access channel and the Philadelphia Police Department coordinated together to find criminals on Philadelphia’s most wanted list.
Through the PPD website and the access channel, photos and information of the top 100 most wanted criminals were displayed. Between March and July, 87 of the 100 people on that list were captured, much of which came from the assistance of citizens sharing information with Philly’s law enforcement.
The city launched a series of websites as a way to keep citizens connected with Philadelphia, such as Philly 311 and its performance management website PhillyStat. In connection with Philly 311, the city also launched a new, free Philly 311 mobile app. “Our goal is to govern smart by being a data-driven democracy,” Nutter said.
To make open data a priority in Philadelphia, in April Nutter signed an open data policy to publish city data and created a chief data officer position in the city’s government. Nutter said one key component to open government is communication. “With open government, citizens are able to communicate not just to but with the government and in return, government is able to connect better with our citizens,” Nutter said.
In August, Philadelphia tapped Mark Headd, Code for America’s director of government Relations to fill the position. As part of his new role, Headd will be responsible for implementing Philadelphia’s new open data policy.
“Mark will be our data matchmaker, linking data producers from the government, data consumers with tech, entrepreneurial and business communities,” Nutter said.
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