Storming the City Walls with Code for America

Last year, I wrote about a civic hacking event that took place in Philadelphia at the office of Azavea.

The event last year was organized by the team of Code for America fellows working for the year in Philadelphia. Exactly one year to the day later, the latest group of fellows working in Philadelphia held another civic hackathon – also at the offices of Azavea, in the city’s Callowhill neighborhood.

I described my observations at last year’s event this way:

“What I was most impressed with was the ability of this event to highlight to those that were there what is truly possible when government data is open to and usable by developers. It provided an object lesson for all those there in the true potential of civic hacking…

Having the Code for America fellows in Philadelphia, and having them essentially kick start civic coding using city data, has accelerated the awareness of what is possible. I think people would have achieved the awareness that was realized yesterday eventually, but the CfA fellows got people there sooner.

I call it “the CfA Effect.” It was pretty cool to see first hand.”

The event this past Saturday provided a good opportunity to gauge the changes that have occurred in Philadelphia since the city embraced open data with gusto under Mayor Michael Nutter, and welcomed it’s first class of Code for America fellows.

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Civic Accelerators Taking Off

Over the next few weeks civic accelerator programs will be launched in several East Coast cities, building on the momentum started by the announcement of the Code for America (CfA) backed civic accelerator in San Francisco.


As I telegraphed in a tweet earlier today, announcements for these new efforts are imminent.

Clearly the idea of building viable businesses out of civic projects that use open government data or that leverage government transparency is catching on. What remains to be seen is the specific approach these initiatives will take.

Beyond the kick off announcement of the San Francisco-based accelerator program, there are very few details of exactly how the effort will work, and CfA is still recruiting for someone to lead the venture.

The announcements that will be made on the east coast in the near term will provide more concrete information on exactly how these accelerator programs will work, and offer a glimpse into how supporters believe they can spin civic hacking projects into profitable ventures.

It will be interesting to watch as the upcoming announcements are made. Stay tuned!

(Picture courtesy of Flickr user wvs.)

Civic Hackers Unite!

In late February and early March, a series of civic hacking events will take place as part of the new Code for America Brigade program.

Code for America Brigade

More than a dozen events will take place from Honolulu to Philadelphia and places in between.

One of the primary goals of this new program from Code for America is to galvanize civic hackers across the country to add to a growing collection of applications that will make up a new “Civic Web.” The Brigade program in general, and these events specifically, are a great way for groups of coders and technologists in cities across the country to plug in to what is going on in the larger world of civic hacking.

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Interview on Gov 2.0 Radio

I had the pleasure of talking with Allison Hornery of Gov20Radio this weekend on civic hacking, civic startups and open government data.

Government 2.0 Radio

You can listen to this interview here.

2012 is going to be a big year for civic hacking and I make some fairly strong assertions about what we’ll see this year in terms of hacking, open data and civic startups.

Take a listen and leave a comment below if you want to follow up on any specific points.

I hope you enjoy it.