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Open Salt Lake Brigade: An Inside Look

In my previous post, I shared how I came to discover Code for America, become involved and ultimately become a Brigade Captain for Open Salt Lake. Now, I'd like to share a little bit about how the Brigade works and a couple of the projects we've been working on.

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The Open Salt Lake Brigade has 7-10 core members who conduct weekly meetings and are highly committed to this cause. A critical element in making our projects a success is that several of our members are employees of the City of Salt Lake.

For example, Nole Walkingshaw, Brigade Captain for Open Salt Lake, is the Planning Programs Supervisor for the City of Salt Lake. Additionally, one of our members, Bill Haight, is the CIO of the City of Salt Lake and has actively attended our meetups and sponsors the group’s activities.

Through these individuals, we are not only able to better understand what would make a difference for the citizens of Salt Lake, but we are also granted tremendous visibility into the data held by the city, which in turn drives the applications we are developing.

The Brigade currently has several open source applications under development to solve issues or challenges that have been identified within the City of Salt Lake.

Food Truck Map App
One simple problem that we can resolve with technology is when and where food trucks will be on a given day. This is something that hungry citizens of Salt Lake want to know and, conversely, food truck owners want them to know.

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The solution is an application called the “Food Truck Map.” Citizens will be able to subscribe to a notification service or install the mobile app, which will allow food truck vendors to broadcast their daily locations. The Food Truck Map application will give citizens and the food truck vendors a new way of connecting, providing a new, technology-based answer that satisfies citizens’ desire to know where their favorite food trucks are and helps increase revenue for these small businesses on wheels.

Where does the data come from? Salt Lake uses Accela Automation for Licensing and Case Management to manage the business licenses of all city-operated food trucks. The data within Accela Automation feeds information about food trucks that are valid and licensed to the app, which the food truck vendors can then update with their schedules.

Adopt-A-Sidewalk App
Another issue facing citizens is that Salt Lake City is required by ordinance to fine people roughly $250 if they do not remove the snow from their public walkways. If someone is physically unable to remove the snow due to being elderly or disabled, the city obviously does not want to issue a fine.

The idea for the “Adopt-A-Sidewalk” app was born, and it is currently in development for the approaching winter. “Adopt-A-Sidewalk” will allow the citizens of Salt Lake to “adopt” snow removal complaints filed with the city and lend a helping hand. This application will give Salt Lake a new way to connect citizens to one another and foster civic good.

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Where does the data come from? Salt Lake City uses Accela Automation and Accela Code Officer to track snow removal complaints. Adopt-A-Sidewalk will tap into the data stored within Accela Automation and offer snow removal complaints for adoption by civic-minded citizens.

These are just two great examples of the work going on within one of over 60 Brigades throughout the country. The amazing things about the applications being developed by Brigades is that most are open source, which allows others to reuse them at no cost. The additional benefit of applications developed on top of the Accela Civic Platform is that they can be rolled out to other agencies using Accela quite easily.

Accela shares the vision of the Code for America Brigades, and is actively working to create more tools to benefit the Brigades and government agencies. As both director of software development for Accela and Brigade Captain of Open Salt Lake, I am fortunate to be able to help bring the best of both worlds together for our customers.

Interested in bringing either of these two apps to your community?
Visit
https://github.com/OpenSaltLake or contact me directly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

See what else is out there.
Take a look at
18 apps your community can deploy now.

Have an idea of your own?
Find your local brigade or contact Code for America for more information and to get started!

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