Opengov techies give back with apps and expertise

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Smaller governments, typically those in rural towns, don’t have the IT capacity to foster serious innovation in citizen participation like governments in larger cities do. Two groups decided it was time to give back and have come together to share their technical knowledge and expertise: OpenColorado and Colorado Code for Communities will combine community, platform, and digital literacy to create a hosted service platform that includes open data with different web and mobile applications.  

OpenColorado announces adopt-a-city program

The announcement of the adopt-a-city program was made this year during CityCamp Colorado on Friday, October 26th in Denver. To kick off the program, the goal is to adopt at least two cities in Colorado over the next year and stand-up infrastructure that will encourage citizen engagement.

"What we’re looking to do is give back to the rural communities. The ones that grow our food, drill for our oil, and power our cities,” said Brian Gryth president and co-founder of Open Colorado.  "It’s time for us to give back to those cities with our expertise and technology."

Code for Communities building a human-driven platform

Colorado Code for Communities, a Code for America Brigade in Denver, has big plans for 2013. They want to deploy eight apps by the end of the year, such as Adopta, add 400 new datasets to by September, and get two regional communities in Denver to pass an open government directive

As for this year, the brigade hopes to complete development of two apps that came out of the Code for Communities hackathon this summer, by December.

"Code for Communities is about building a human-driven platform that can exist independent of any one person or organization," said Jason Lally, Colorado Code for Communities brigade captain and Director of the Decision Lab at Placematters. "Technology is not an end but a means to solving community problems in the 21st century. The only way we’re successful is if this effort is owned by many partners and individuals." and OpenBike demos

Demonstrations of other applications developed at the Code for Communities hackathon were given at CityCamp Colorado during the afternoon portion. First, was, a data normalization system providing information about the characteristics of your neighborhood through an API. The purpose is to get information such as crime data, demographics, and other available open data integrated for easy user consumption. "We take big data and make it simple to use," said William Golde, evangelist.

OpenBike was another app, currently under development, introduced by developer Michael Lockwitz. It’s an interactive biking platform combining quantitative, open data with qualitative, user-provided data for characteristics such as safeness, beauty, and difficulty of routes. OpenBike was originally dubbed Team RadRoutes and it started because the group was looking to solve an absence of information problem for the biking community.

Colorado Code for Communities has some lofty, yet achievable goals. And it will be exciting to watch them make progress and share their open source and open data knowledge and expertise across Colorado and beyond.

Extras from the community

For more information about other projects and a recap from the previously held hackathon, see Jason Lally’s post: Civic hackathon inspires competition, collaboration around planning and sustainability apps in Denver region.

Examples of the spirit and energy at CityCampCO this year include a storify by Michele Hovet and watch this man sing the Chinese national anthem.

See our pictures on Facebook.

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.

1 Comment

Here are a couple additional links about CityCamp Colorado that everyone
might find useful:
<li>Michele Hovet, Deputy City Manager for Arvada Colorado and CityCamp vet, put together a great Storify of the event. (Jason mentions it in his story). <a href="">See the Storify recap.</a></li>
<li>Michele, Scott Primeau, and I also talked to Kristy Fifelski of GovGirl on How to Host a CityCamp? which highlighted CityCamp Colorado. <a href="">Check out the GovGirl video.</a></li>
<li>We also worked with Denver's Channel 8 (the City's news and information channel) to produce a short 4-7 minute piece on CityCamp Colorado 2012. Once it is available, I will share it with everyone.</li>
I hope all of this coverage and information will help advance or improve your camps. Please let me know if you have questions.

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