By Kathryn Vargas on Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Category: Events

Accela Engage Series: Q&A with Accela’s Own Eddie Tejeda and Allen Chen on Civic Insight

Eddie Tejeda is the co-founder of Civic Insight, a solution that measures, tracks and visualizes permitting, code enforcement and planning data in a simple and easy-to-use interface, and is now a Senior Product Manager with Accela after joining the Accela family last fall. Allen Chen is the General Manager for Open Data. Eddie and Allen will be presenting product updates for Civic Insight, and Eddie will be presenting a second session with Tampa’s Melissa Chiong on the City’s implementation of Civic Insight.

Have you attended Engage in the past?
Eddie: I attended in 2013 and in 2014. It was great because, as a startup getting a lot of attention in the civic tech space and as someone in the developer program, it gave me a chance to meet customers and get to know the space.

Allen: This is probably my 12th Engage in person and I supported the event before that. I traditionally help with the main stage presentation.

What do you enjoy most about Engage?
Eddie: Most of the work I do is remote, so getting to see customers and partners face to face together all in one place and getting to know them outside of work is great; it is nice to spend a few days together. I find that there are great people working on similar problems. It is also a nice way to see what Accela is working on. There are a lot of products, and it is great to see how they are coming together as well as great to see where the leadership is taking the company.

Allen: I really like the welcome reception. It is great to interact with customers, and it is nice to see the awards recognizing the successes of our customers. I also enjoy seeing how people react to the first day’s keynote messages and announcements at the welcome dinner.

What are you most looking forward to at Engage 2016?
Eddie: This is my first Engage since joining Accela so I am looking forward to being part of the conference and presenting. This is the first time we will get to present Civic Insight as part of the Accela family of products, and talk about where the product is going now that we are a part of Accela. I am also looking forward to getting feedback on where we are going.

Allen: I’m looking forward to an exciting new product announcement that is a whole new discipline for Accela and that will really change the way people use the Civic Platform. In initial trials we are getting great preliminary feedback and are meeting a need that customers are demanding. Stay tuned!

What do you hope to learn at Engage 2016?
Eddie: We are in the process of launching new features in Civic Insight and it will be great to talk to people and see how they think Civic Insight could fit with their city as well as get sense of what it is that they like and where we have an opportunity to become stronger.

Allen: One of the most enjoyable parts of Engage is to sit down with different groups of people to hear their stories. This is our biggest opportunity to meet customers and learn about the ways they are using the products, as well as hear about the trends in government from their point of view and where they see things heading. We want to ensure we’re driving our products and services in the right direction so we can make the lives of our users, government workers and citizens, better on a day-to-day basis. Hearing stories from those on the front line really personifies our mission for me.

What are you presenting on this year at Engage?
Allen: Eddie and I are presenting on Civic Insight and will be unveiling a new component of that solution. We will be talking about how to use Civic Insight and will show examples of how clients are using it today. We will go over our history and will be inviting participants to ask questions that impact the future product roadmap.

Civic Insight was one of the companies we (Accela) worked with in our partner program, so having them here now as part of the team shows the evolution of our ecosystem and how our role in civic tech has evolved. The information Civic Insight provides is both valuable on a daily basis and is highly actionable.

Eddie: In a separate session, I will also be presenting with Melissa Chiong from the City of Tampa. We worked closely with them to launch Civic Insight with permitting data in their city. The process was very interesting and we will be asking them about their goals and getting updates on how it is being used now that it has launched.

What do you hope attendees will get out of your session?
Allen: My hope is that they will take a look at their current way of measuring success and reevaluate it by using Civic Insight as a tool to reframe what they are measuring, or to take measurement to the next level. Rather than just measuring levels of output, they could look at measuring other outcomes. For example, they could rethink their civic engagement and transparency initiatives and focus on the impact they have on their city. Is more regulation better? Or is becoming faster and more efficient the goal they are driving towards? They could also have goals to attain higher levels of citizen happiness and engagement. All of this points towards whether they are really serving their citizens in the ways citizens are demanding.

How does your presentation reflect this year's tagline of “Where Civic Tech Connects?”
Eddie: For a long time the space has been focused on open data and publishing data. Civic Insight provides a shift towards use of the data. Data by itself isn’t useful – insight is what is actually useful. We are headed in the direction of looking at the data in different ways to tell stories of where you are.

For more information about Accela Engage, visit the conference website.

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