Code for America in Oaktown?

Today the City of Oakland met with Code for America to learn more about the fellowship and how it could benefit our town. We had representatives from the Mayor’s office, the new deputy Administrator, city council and ourselves. There was real excitement from the city folks about this partnership, and a very sure commitment from leadership that the city was serious about this possibility and clearly understood the benefits we stand to reap from being part of Code for America in 2013. This was for the first time a group of senior leaders who were willing to stick out their necks and allow for innovation in city hall. There was a clear understanding of many impediments our city faces to improving service delivery, being a more open and engaged city, removing barriers and blockages to effective service delivery and to allowing new technology to be a spur for process changes.

I’m personally very excited about this effort. Our city has faced numerous real challenges in the past year and there seemed to be no coordinated leadership to effectively use technology to improve our city and no chance city hall would get it together to present a cohesive, thought out application for CfA. But they’re on it. Giddy would be appropriate. I went in hoping it wouldn’t be CfA needing to sell itself to the city and was very happy to see the city staff and leaders being gung-ho to start this relationship and to become part of this dynamic, powerful network that CfA represents.

The idea pitched by the city resonates with my experience working in and with the city.  But I’m not going to steal anyone’s thunder by publishing what it was- that honor needs to remain with the people who actually formed the idea (and dealt with my constant stream of encouragement and nagging to become a CfA city). Combined with a very serious plan to move an OpenData policy through city council, this represents some really positive changes for our town. I’ve been open about poor decisions and bad tech in the past but I’m going to be even more vocal about good decisions and people trying to innovate and take risks rather than do the same ol thing the same ol way that never worked in the first place.

Let’s go Oakland! (Yes I just watched Moneyball and nearly shed a tear hearing that chant as Beane walked back into the stadium on the 20th game of the streak.)

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Coding Across America (and Oakland!)

Code Across America: A Week of Civic Innovation

From February 24 through March 4, passionate citizens around the country will come together to “Code Across America” – to make their cities even better. In over a dozen cities, there will be hackathons to build civic apps, “brigades” to deploy existing ones, unconferences to plan for the year ahead, and meetups to strengthen the community. Check out details of what’s going on and where it’s happening below.

Details

When: Simultaneous event, February 25; Ongoing, February 24 – March 4
What: Activities ranging from hackathons and app deployments to unconference sessions
Who: Urbanists, Civic Hackers, City Reps, Developers, Designers, etc — anyone with the passion to make their city better
How: Bring together the city government with a supporting community group, organization, or business, and reach out to a broad range of participants with diverse backgrounds and skills

OAKLAND EVENTS (Hosted in SF)

OPEN DATA FOR OAKLAND/ALAMEDA PLANNING TEAM

If you’re an Oakland based coder, developer, designer, journo, researcher and you want to help build the first Oakland OpenData portal then please join us next weekend (Feb 25th @10am).  We are partnering with the alpha event of the Code for America Brigade for the first Code Across America day and will spend the day laying out the plans for this new resource for Oaktown.

We want your ideas, feedback, critique, concepts and creative spirit to help us make this work for everyone in Oakland. In mid/late March we will host a hack day in Oakland to do the dev work and get the site up and running, but the planning phase is just as important. We want to brainstorm with you on how we deal with the City/County split, which system we adopt- either the OpenDataPhily or the CKAN system, how it’s hosted and who will contribute to maintaining it, branding and promotion and more. We don’t want to do this in isolation so here’s your chance to help make this happen and to make sure your voice is heard.

More on the OpenData planning effort here.

PUBLIC ART MAPPER FOR OAKLAND

We’re going to start lifting up what Oakland is really about- great art and culture! Too much bad press gets a brother down, so let’s put our heads together and build something dope for our town that will elevate our profile beyond crime and out-of control protests. Art. Art and tech. We are the creative town, so let’s make it known.

The previous year’s fellows at Code for America built a great little app called the Public Art Mapper– it lets you snap pics and upload locations of any public art in your town, then visitors, friends, tourists can find the great art in our town via a smartphone app, on twitter and even check in to the locations and discuss each spot using Foursquare. The app has already been rolled out in SF, Portland and Philadelphia.

More details on this effort here.

FAQ

What’s a “Brigade” event? This year, Code for America is launching the CfA Brigade to bring together groups of civic hackers in cities across the country, focused on customizing and deploying civic apps locally. These Brigade events will be the kick off: each city will identify an app to focus on, customizing it for their needs, standing it up, and getting it in the hands of users by the end of the day.

How do I participate? Find your city on the map above or the list to the right and join the event there. If you don’t see your city, then host your own event using our guide, and if you can’t make it happen on February 25, don’t worry, Code Across America events are happening all week long, February 24 – March 4. Contact us if you need some help or want more information.