Ryan Driscoll: Why I’m Coding for America

I’m ecstatic to have interned with Code for America this summer. Spending summer here was an obvious decision for me because Code for America is the perfect combination of my interests in city government, civic innovation, and technology.

I grew up in Nashville and just completed my first year at Claremont McKenna College where I am majoring in Science and Management, which encompasses biotechnology and economics. During the school year, I work as a researcher for The Rose Institute of State and Local Government studying policy in California and using technology to increase knowledge about the democratic process in the state.

In the past I’ve worked on several local and city-level political campaigns where I’ve seen constituent data used for strategic purposes. I realized as I went into these communities that my passion wasn’t really in campaigning but instead in what I could learn from speaking with constituents. Having an understanding of how campaigns function and utilize data, I saw the potential for use of open data to make government more accessible and transparent. I wanted to engage people with whom I had spoken and connect them to one another while giving them tools, like accessible data and information, so they could improve their communities. With more accessible governments come more accountable and involved citizens.

Code for America is the perfect union of the seemingly very different disciplines I study. I never thought I would find an organization that utilizes a combination of tech and policy with the confluence of Code for America where neither discipline overshadows the other.

What I love most about Code for America are the people and disciplines it brings together. Problem solving as a whole demands much more interdisciplinary work than it often receives, but Code for America challenges that norm. With a group of people that bring such diverse skill sets and an equal level of commitment to serving their communities, the Code for America team is incredibly unique. Code for America isn’t just creating solutions for constituent problems, it is building a framework for involvement that can be used to significantly improve how government functions.

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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