Spotlight: Greg Hermann, City of Carlsbad

Greg Hermann’s official title at the City of Carlsbad is Senior Management Analyst, but his City business card identifies him as “head nerd.” Here’s what he does, in his words:

I work in the City Manager’s Office and help support technology and innovation initiatives. I consider myself a municipal coder, combining a passion for technology with a deep appreciation for the complex systems that make communities work. While I don’t know rails (yet), I am pretty familiar the programming language for cities, muni code. My hope is that this allows me to better connect the dots between technology, government, and communities.

Last fall we stood up our first open source app (Adopta) with the help of our local Brigade captain. We also have a number of projects in the pipeline including an open data portal, visualization tools for budget data, and an intrapreneurship program (Carlsbad Labs).

What civic innovation opportunity most excites you right now?

Similar to the data mashups the travel site Hipmunk uses as a new way to sort through flight and hotel options, I’m curious about how we can put a lot of data together to create new metrics for communities. Neighborhodness might be a mashup of crime data, proximity to a park or community garden, presence of a local social network like Nextdoor, etc.

What do your (non-government) friends think you do?

Oh, probably some version of Amy Poehler’s character on Parks & Rec. But, in fairness it can be difficult to explain what my role is. The best description I’ve ever heard about the work of cities came from my City Manager in Palo Alto, Jim Keene. He said the real role of cities is “to establish and maintain agreements on how we are going to live together.” To that extent I think public service is a little like being the contract administrator for civil society which led me to my current Twitter bio “keeper of the social contract.”

Questions? Comments? Hit us up @codeforamerica.

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