Andy Hull: Why I’m Coding for America

Three months after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, I was standing on a street in the Lower 9th Ward. Besides my three colleagues and myself, there was no one around. It was eerily quiet — I distinctly remember the sound of a roof vent creaking in the breeze. Piles of debris, abandoned cars, and empty, flooded homes were all that was left of a once lively community. In that moment, I was struck by how sad and wrong it felt to see a city without its inhabitants. People are what give a city life, and in turn, our cities shape who we are.

The interaction between a city and its people often takes shape within local government, whose decisions and actions can affect everything from daily commute times to how many people will be sleeping on the street. As citizens, we tend to overlook the role of city government in our daily lives — at least until we have something to complain about.

I’m coding for America because I want to create tools that have meaningful, positive impact on people’s lives. Putting technology to work in local governance provides an incredible opportunity to do just that. For most of us, technology has become part of the fabric of our daily lives and how we connect to each other. Our personal technology has seen exponential growth and innovation, but government technology is lagging sorely behind. As citizens and builders of technology, I believe we should be focusing on creating better tools for our cities, not just our corporations.

We as developers and designers should be setting our sights on building important and meaningful civic tools. Our goal should be to make government work better all the time, not just in times of crisis. We should be creating modern, rich, and easy to use tools that better connect all members of society to the services available to them. I’m proud to be working with my other CfA Fellows to help forge our path forward.

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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