Collaboration = Innovation

We’re just wrapping up the last day of the 2012 Code for America Summit. We welcomed more than 250 attendees this year, including:

  • 1 Deputy Mayor
  • 3 Mayors
  • 6 2013 fellows
  • 7 Accelerator companies
  • 8 2012 cities
  • 10 2013 cities
  • 14 CfA staff
  • 17 2011 fellows
  • 18 Brigade captains
  • 26 2012 fellows
  • 40+ governments

The energy — and ambition — when this group comes together in one room is impressive. When asked what the highlight of the day was, I was surprised to hear multiple people answer “the introductions.” As in, the introductions made by moderators and session chairs of the speakers — usually a pleasant but unremarkable interlude between the main events of a conference?

Yes, they said — the introductions embodied the unbridled enthusiasm and respect of this community for the work their colleagues are doing, and articulated the connections between the many organizations and individuals that form this network. At the Summit, it becomes tangible that collaboration is a central tenet of Code for America’s work. The idea of “coding for America” is founded on the belief that we can accomplish more when we work together.

Collaboration at Code for America takes many forms. Here are just a few that have been manifested at this year’s Summit so far:

Between fellows and cities
On Tuesday, a sampling of our 2013 Fellows met with their 2013 city partners for the first time, while the 2012 fellows and cities presented the outcomes of their year’s work. At the core of the Fellowship is the idea that Fellows and their cities form a partnership to drive progress towards city goals. Together, they jointly identify opportunities for impact in their city; prioritize initiatives; make decisions; and tackle challenges and obstacles that arise throughout the year.

Between cities and the collective Code for America network
On Monday we announced our ten city partners for 2013. Our city partners are advantaged by not only the Fellow team assigned to their city but the collective resources of Code for America. Fellows collaborate and contribute across projects and city teams, meaning that each project is able to benefit from a broader range of skillsets and expertise. And a great strength of Code for America is that this mindset extends to the greater Code for America network of past fellows, civic hackers in the Brigade, other likeminded civic innovators, and civic technology experts from Silicon Valley and elsewhere — there’s always someone willing to pitch in or lend their expertise where it’s needed.

Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia & Mayor Lee of San Francisco

Between cities and other cities
With more than 40 governments in attendance this year, we introduced the Code for America Peer Network, a new program to connect and support the work of innovators within local government across the country. We believe that much like cities face shared challenges, and they can share solutions and best practices too. The Peer Network is designed to encourage the exchange of knowledge and learnings between cities around shared focus areas, as well as the sharing of civic software.

Between cities and their community
The gathering of 18 of our inaugural Brigade captains from communities across the country demonstrates the power of citizen engagement as a key to creating sustainable innovation in our cities. By harnessing the strong desire of people to contribute their time and expertise toward improving their communities, and to have a meaningful way to be involved in decisions that effect their lives, we think we can change the way citizens relate to their local government — rather than just consumers of government services, they can become contributors. The Brigade captains are our “boots on the ground” getting citizens involved and excited about solving civic challenges themselves.

We’re thrilled to see the incredible stories, friendships, colleagues, and collaborations that will come out of the Summit. Stay tuned to our blog and Twitter feed for more updates from the CfA Summit, and check our Vimeo channel for video of the session as it is made available.

Oh, and if you have any stories you’d like to share with us. Send a blog post our way.

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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