Aligning Brigade with Code for America’s Goals

When we started working on Brigade we were really excited and we got a lot of other people excited, too. We burst onto the scene with a bunch of activity and a web site. Meaningful, sustainable outcomes emerged from our initial sprint. Open San Diego deployed Azavea’s Open Data Catalog and now there are 413 datasets about San Diego that are described and discoverable. From that effort a community of ODC users was formed so implementers in different cities could share knowledge and get help. Now there are three open source, open government platforms that can be evaluated by civic hackers around the country. Code for America Fellow, Jim Craner, is working with CKAN to help get Santa Cruz, Calif. booted up with a data portal. The Open Gov Platform developed in partnership between The White House and India is now available, and folks in Virginia are organizing around it.

But the Brigade has a much higher calling than hosting hack-a-thons and deploying apps. These are tactics. There is a mission, strategy, and core set of goals that you, current or future Brigade member, will be glad to learn.

Code for America’s mission:

Helping governments work better for everyone using the people and the power of the web.

Our goals:

  1. Governments leveraging technology more effectively
  2. Citizens and community groups solving civic issues
  3. Cities collaborating to work better
  4. Apps built on linked, open data

Our strategy:

To ensure that governments are leveraging technology more effectively our strategy is to drive structural changes in government necessary to update government’s approach to technology. A great example of this is the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics (MONUM) created by the City of Boston. New York City adopted MONUM organically and Philadelphia is headed there, too. But to grow beyond organic adoption an open source model that can be more easily replicated is needed. Developing that model is work that needs doing. Supporting open government initiatives is something else Brigades can do to implement this strategy.

To ensure that citizens and community groups are solving civic issues our strategy is to match need with capacity through the Brigade program by sourcing well-qualified opportunities for civic tech and bringing 500 volunteers to meet them.

To ensure that cities are collaborating our strategy is help cities reuse existing apps, either by redeploying them to more cities or by connecting cities to a national service through data standards. We want to see at least 40 instances of that.

To ensure that apps are built on linked, open data, our strategy is to liberate data by the hundreds and thousands of datasets. It’s not too daunting a task. Just ask Open San Diego. They’ll probably help, too. That’s the Brigade effect.

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