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Open Salt Lake Brigade: An Inside Look

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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. 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...
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My Journey with Code for America: From Discovery to Brigade Captain

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Many of you have heard of Code for America by now and the amazing work this organization is doing to improve communication between citizens and their government agencies through technology. If you haven’t, Code for America believes that in order to improve government, we must improve citizenship. The organization helps cities create 21st century interfaces to government that are simple, beautiful and easy to use. Deploying technologies that make it easier for your agency to engage with citizens to improve your city not only builds trust, but it also changes the conversation between government and its citizens. Back in 2012, I didn’t know anything about Code for America. As the senior software architect for a provider of civic engagement solutions headquartered in the Bay Area, however, I was eager to evangelize the Accela Civic Platform and what it had to offer developers. This quest to bring our message to developers would...
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Open Data Is Here: How Will You Bring Your Agency’s Data to Life?

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The office has been buzzing with excitement this week with the launch of CivicData.com . We’ve been hard at work to bring this to fruition. More importantly, everyone at Accela is excited about what this means for our customers. In recent months, the City of El Paso created a Garbage App with CityGovApp that increases driver productivity while enhancing citizen engagement—all from a smartphone. Civic hackers used Salt Lake City’s data to create a “Taco Cart” app, which helps citizens (and presumably inspectors) locate these mobile food establishments. We’re amazed by the sheer volume of civic-minded developers who are looking to build and deploy apps for government. Oftentimes, they don’t understand what kind of data you have. Just opening up your data can result in unexpected new ways to engage with citizens and businesses. Several agencies have already published datasets on CivicData.com. What will your data look like? In case...
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Hacking for Civic Good...and Tacos

Hacking for Civic Good...and Tacos
On Saturday June 1st, Civic Hackers across America united with a common thread, to change their communities by creating new mobile, web and social applications during the National Day of Civic Hacking. One Utah group in particular, Open Salt Lake, held Hack for Salt Lake, an event sponsored by Accela. At the hackathon, civic hackers worked with the City to access the Accela Automation system via the Accela Civic Platform, leading to the creation of a mobile application code named “Taco Cart.” The Taco Cart app was designed to solve for an existing problem facing Salt Lake residents today: locating the many food carts scattered across the city. While most citizens know these carts exist, their specific location is primarily spread by word of mouth alone. Furthermore, most cart owners have no simple way to post their locations online. But through their use of Accela Automation, the City tracks the...
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Better Governing through Civic Engagement

It’s already happening. You see it when citizens report potholes, broken signs, graffiti or nuisances using 311 apps. You see it with hackathons , the open data movement, and with organizations like Code for America and Tumml brokering innovation by bringing together developers and government agencies. There’s a palpable energy driven by technological innovations, heightened expectations, and the diverse needs of governments and the businesses they serve. At Accela, we’re keenly focused on improving governing and governments through civic engagement . Why Civic Engagement and why now? Agencies of all sizes can now deploy cloud, web, mobile and social technologies to more effectively engage with their constituencies, meet changing regulatory and compliance standards and manage civic functions.  The Center for Digital Government recently completed a survey of 150 local government IT and business leaders to measure awareness and need for regulatory software. The study showed that government efficiency is the...
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CityCamp Palo Alto: Thoughts on Civic Hacking from Dr. Jonathan Reichental

Accela is a proud sponsor of the upcoming CityCamp Palo Alto, part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. The event, scheduled for June 1, 2013, will include panel discussions, technology demos, music and amazing food. Jonathan Reichental, the City of Palo Alto Chief Information Officer and the Founder and Co-creator of CityCamp Palo Alto, sent along some thoughts on civic hacking, which I've posted below. Read, comment, join us for a day of Civic Good and let us know if you will inspire and be inspired. Why Civic Hacking is Good News for Government and Our Communities by Dr. Jonathan Reichental City of Palo Alto Chief Information Officer Founder and Co-creator of CityCamp Palo Alto Hacking 101 When US Navy warplanes returned to base after bombing missions during World War 2, engineers would use  hack saws to cut pieces off broken aircraft and apply them to good planes to get...
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