Contest aims to give open source projects a second wind

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The Code for America Brigade recently launched Race for Reuse. It's a different kind of contest that aims to increase adoption of existing open source projects with real dollars. The goal isn't to build something brand new—it's to encourage volunteer teams (called "brigades") across the U.S. to stand up and support existing open source projects. Because one of the more difficult parts of deploying open source apps is building the user community around the projects and getting citizens engaged.

There are four apps that brigades are competing with:

  • Adopta - A web app that encourages citizens to "adopt" civic infrastructure, such as fire hydrants, storm drains, trees, emergency sirens...anything, really. Adopta has already been deployed in four cities.
  • LocalWiki - A platform for building community information hubs. LocalWikis are wikis about a place written by the people of that place. 
  • Shareabouts - A mapping tool to gather crowd sourced public input. Use it to collect suggested locations and comments, in a social, engaging process. 
  • Textizen - A feedback tool for the mobile age, with SMS, which allows citizens or government officials to organize a poll for a city and publish results in public.

If you're interested in one of these projects, see the additional details about each project and how to get started. Here is more information about the Race for Reuse campaign and some of the rewards listed on their website:

  • Launch one of four featured apps in your city by Election Day (November 6, 2012) to earn an advertising budget to promote adoption in your community.
  • Reach your target for adoption, and earn a year of free hosting to sustain the civic engagement tool you've deployed. 
  • Achieve these milestones by Thanksgiving Day and the Code for America Brigade will throw you a party in your city to celebrate!

Bottom line: Lace up your racing shoes, get some civic geeks together, pick an app, and stand it up by November 6th to get started. Then it's time to begin community building. Are you ready redeploy?

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications.

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