Have you ever seen a civic app and thought to yourself, “I want that app in my city!” I have. Snow covering fire hydrants isn’t an issue in Norfolk, Va. but storm water drains get clogged all the time and that’s a problem. As we debate and consider light rail in Virginia Beach I have to wonder about the role Textizen might play in collecting feedback from citizens. Who would say their city’s web site wouldn’t be a better source of information with an app like HNL Answers that provides a “great big search box” alternative to the collage of hierarchical menus and frames found on the typical city home page?
Fostering collaboration is important to us a Code for America. Some might say that establishing and maintaining connections is what we do best. We’re always working to bring municipal governments, industry, academia, and citizens together to improve the way the web is used to inform, deliver services and engage citizens in civic duty. An important tool in our belt is open source, civic software that can be easily reused wherever it’s wanted or needed.
Emphasis in the civic tech space is often placed on hackathons, contests and creating new software. We think that’s great but we think its just as important to pick up where most hackathons stop. We want to see the best apps reused not recreated. We recognize also that there’s a lot of civic tech out there that is trivial to deploy while building engagement through the apps is more challenging. We want to address this directly.
What if we had a competition about reuse and civic engagement?
We think this is a worthwhile activity so we’re going to do it. Today we are launching our fall and winter campaign for the Brigade called “Race for Reuse.” We’re asking Brigade members across the country to help their communities stand up civic apps. Then, together, we’ll campaign in those communities to boot up civic engagement online.
Question? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.