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What’s New in Civic Tech: South Bend, Ind., Launches New Digital Inclusion Center

Plus, Louisville, Ky., technologist organizes hackathon with IFTTT; Raleigh, N.C., has a new startup map; Los Angeles’ CDO writes about ‘data angels;’ and Ohio prepares to announce prize recipients for the second phase of its opioid technology challenge.

by / August 23, 2018

South Bend, Ind., has launched a new digital inclusion center through a collaboration between the city, St. Joseph County Library and St. Joe Valley Metronet, officials announced in a press release.

The new facility, which launched Aug. 20, is the Center for Learning, Information, Connectivity, and Knowledge (CLICK) at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. The site features high-speed Internet, public Wi-Fi and computers as well as copying, faxing, scanning and printing services. The center will also offer programing geared toward digital inclusivity, which the press release described as “empowering residents to gain the technology and digital literacy skills demanded by the modern age.”

“Educational and economic empowerment requires high quality access to the Internet and technology for residents. The CLICK at MLK will connect residents to digital resources and aligns with our efforts to make access to the Internet a core element of equity in the 21st century,” South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said in the release.

Under Mayor Buttigieg, the city has become synonymous with leveraging partnerships with regional academic institutions to bolster its community and the efficiency of its local government. Moving forward, St. Joseph County Library will provide equipment, software and tech support for the new center, while St. Joe Valley Metronet will install its infrastructure, including its high-speed Internet connectivity.

Louisville, Ky. Technologist Works to Organize Hackathon with IFTTT

Matthew Gotth-Olsen, a developer in the office of Civic Innovation in Louisville, Ky., took to Twitter recently in search of other government technologists to participate in a hackathon around IFTTT.

IFTTT stands for If This Then That, and it’s becoming an increasingly common way for municipal agencies to communicate vital information to constituents. Louisville, for example, first deployed IFTTT tech in January 2017, connecting it to the city’s open data about air quality and later adding functionality linked to emergency notifications. To help form a hackathon around the tech, Gotth-Olsen has also taken to GitHub.

Any cities, counties, states or even federal agencies looking at collaborating are encouraged to join in on the conversation about ways government can use IFTTT. On GitHub, Gotth-Olsen notes that a wide range of cities and federal agencies have signed on to use IFTTT, including the National Science Foundation, and nearly a dozen others.

The GitHub page also features links to service implementation documentation that may very well prove useful for interested parties looking to up their familiarity with the tech. More information about how Louisville is using IFTTT can be found here.

Raleigh, N.C., Launches New Startup Map

Finding ways for local government to do a better job of coordinating with the startup companies in its community is a fairly regular source of both conversation and consternation in the gov tech space.

In fact, earlier this week, the Startup in Residence Program — which aims to facilitate better working relationships between government and startups — announced that it was expanding to now include 31 member jurisdictions. At the same time, many in the government tech space will also speak to the value of getting a better holistic sense of a problem and its possible solutions by visualizing data.

With that in mind, it’s perhaps fitting that a civic technologist in Raleigh, N.C., has built a map that visualizes local startups by collaborating with the city’s office of economic development and innovation. The map is exactly what it sounds like: a visualization of startup companies active in Raleigh. It uses colorful iconography to depict what type of companies there are, and users can get more information by clicking on company icons, information that includes addresses, brief company descriptions and URLs.

Check out the map for yourself by clicking here.

Los Angeles’ CDO Blogs About ‘Data Angels’

Sari Ladin-Sienne, chief data officer of Los Angeles, recently took to Medium to publish a blog titled How to Become a Data Angel, which essentially means making yourself a productive and vital partner for Los Angeles’ municipal data staffers.

In her post, Ladin-Sienne notes that as a lean data team in Los Angeles, she and her cohort “depend on a thriving community of civic partners. The Data Angels program is composed of a cohort of volunteers that donate their time and skills to help us reach our mission of leveraging data to make positive community improvements.”

To foster greater involvement from interested parties, Ladin-Sienne and her team launched a Data Angels Project Board on Trello, where individuals can go to find current and upcoming data community projects. Other advice given for Los Angelenos who’d like to get involved includes reaching out to the team, checking the Trello board and tagging yourself, and getting to know other civic-minded data people at a local HackforLA night.

For data staffers in other cities, the lesson here is in replicating Los Angeles’ work in their own jurisdictions.

Ohio Prepares to Announce Prize Recipients for Second Phase of Its Opioid Technology Challenge

Ohio is one of many states currently working to find tech-based ways to stem the nation’s raging and fatal opioid crisis. One of the strategies Ohio has taken is hosting the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge.

The Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge, according to a press release, “leverages $8 million of a $20 million commitment to advance new ideas in the battle against drug abuse and addiction. The Challenge is a multi-phase prize competition with escalating prize amounts associated with progress toward developing solutions.”

Two phases of this competition have taken place so far, with the first phase collecting ideas from participants, and the second phase inviting technology solutions. The second phase has now ended, and as such the state is preparing to announce winning projects on Sept. 12.

As many as 12 recipients will get $200,000 to be used in advancing their solutions. The event will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 12 at The Longaberger Alumni House in Columbus, Ohio.

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Zack Quaintance Assistant News Editor

Zack Quaintance is the assistant news editor for Government Technology. His background includes writing for daily newspapers across the country and developing content for a software company in Austin, Texas. He is now based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached via email.

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