“In just one word, how are you feeling this morning?” That was one of the ice-breaker questions every participant of the “Hack Your City with Your City” event in San Francisco answered as we went around the room and introduced ourselves. The most common answers were ‘excited’ or ‘over/under-caffeinated,’ but the answer that struck me most, and which was also a common theme amongst participants whom I spoke with throughout the day, was the phrase ‘data-hungry.’ It succinctly summarizes the primary challenge facing the Open Data movement today — giving Developers an understanding of what data is available, how to get at it, and how to use it most effectively for common good. Once the data floodgates are opened, we just stand back and see what amazing apps spring forth.
Accela partnered with Code for America to host a hackathon on Saturday, February 23 at their Headquarters on 9th Street. I’d guess about 70-80 people showed up, including representatives from several SF government departments, hence the theme, “Hack Your City with Your City.” Actually, the event was part of a larger, nationwide ‘Code Across America’ movement with each city in the 2013 Code for America Fellowship holding similar events on this day in their respective cities. Accela solutions are installed or being implemented in over half of this year’s fellowship cities:
New York City, New York
Unified Government of Kansas City, Kansas
Kansas City, Missouri
County of San Mateo, California
City/County of San Francisco, California
As a company that is opening up more and more of our platform to community developers, designers, and visionaries every day, a ‘data-hungry’ constituency is music to our ears. It validates that Accela is headed in the right direction in building tools and software infrastructure to allow anyone to integrate with us and get at real-time data. Code for America has done an amazing job with community outreach to a group of civic-minded people whose collective goal is to do good in their City through the use of technology.
Our Developer Program Guru, Kris Trujillo, led a well-attended walk-through of how to create an Accela Developer Portal account and start calling our API to retrieve live agency data. As we were showing this data, questions kept being posed about what data was available and how many agencies were supplying data through Accela’s open platform. While we at Accela know that there are many agencies that already make their data available through the Accela cloud, we haven’t yet made this information readily accessible. In retrospect, it’s an obvious thing to do, but in our efforts to bring you, the Developer, the best tools to call up the data you need, we may have overlooked the simple fact that you need the “what” before the “how” — the ingredients available to the data-hungry, before the e-z-bake oven.
Well, I’m happy to report that we’re feverishly working to rectify the issue and to deliver on our promise of making government more open through a published catalog of open data.
In the meantime, you should sign-up for an Accela Developer Portal account. It’s completely free, and we’ll be reaching out to you soon with more upcoming training events, news, and examples of apps built on our platform. Our eventual goal is to help connect data-rich agencies with data-hungry developers, and to help you identify innovations, rapidly build apps, and market and distribute them widely. For more information, I encourage you to follow or attend Accela’s Partner and Developer Conference next week.
Congratulations to the winners of the Accela prize: the Square Plate team.
#codeacross #sf @allenuxTags: Civic Hacking, Code for America, Open Data, Civic Tech