This is an inspiring time to be walking the halls of Code for America’s headquarters in San Francisco.
Part of this inspiration comes from watching the enthusiastic response communities are having to the applications Fellows are deploying. For example, at the recent launch of Prepared.ly, an application developed in partnership with the City of Austin, Austin’s Fire Chief, Rhonda Mae Kerr highlighted the combination of “high-tech savvy and engaged citizenry in helping manage citizen’s risk of personal injury and property damage from wildfires.” When Textizen, an app designed to broaden the city’s ability to solicit feedback from the community, launched in June, Mayor Nutter was enthusiastic about its ability to “encourage interactive connections between citizens and the City.”
As both Chief Kerr and Mayor Nutter noted, the combination of technology and citizen engagement can have powerful outcomes and holds the promise of sustainable impacts.
This same theme is evidenced in the stories coming from the variety of community events the Fellows have helped organize in their cities this year. One of the participants at the first ever civic Write-a-Thon in Honolulu (an event designed to engage citizens in researching and writing answers to questions commonly asked to the city’s hotline by resident) said, “groups of citizens working together with city employees for the kind of government communication we want — is powerful.”
These themes of technology, community participation, and citizen passion are being repeated over and over again as Fellows work with their cities to deploy the applications they’ve been developing over the past few months. Applications like Textizen, Local Data, OpenCounter, Honolulu Answers, Prepared.ly, BlightSTATUS, 311Labs, The Daily Brief, Blockee, Macon Transit, RouteView and many others all have the power to make a substantial impact in the communities in which they are deployed. And events like Code Across America, the hackathons, city camps, skill shares and the first-ever civic Write-a-thon, provide opportunities for citizens to demonstrate their passion and interest in making the cities in which they reside, better places to live.
It’s hard to walk away from these inspiring stories of impact without feeling great admiration for the people and institutions doing – and wanting to do – this good work. If passion is one bellwether for the future health of our cities, there is reason to be optimistic.
To see short videos of some of the other projects Code for America is deploying, click here.
Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.
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