code for america

How to get started in civic hacking

citizen participation

What is civic hacking?

Seventy people gathered together one sunny Oakland afternoon to volunteer and improve their city. There were no rakes or yard tools normally seen at volunteer-day events though. No paint brushes, no trash bags, no canned soup bins. These seventy people were laden with laptops and were volunteering to improve the city’s website. » Read more

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How a hackathon can transform your community

Hack the Stacks

What started as an uphill battle in Burlington, Vermont on the National Day of Civic Hacking in June 2013, transversed into an understanding between local government, non-profits, the media, and the community four months later. What they came to understand was that we can grow stronger when we work together. When we partner. When we work on stuff that matters.

Robert Coleburn, a Technology Librarian (and systems administrator) at Fletcher Free Library, jumped at the opportunity to partner with Code for Burlington, a Code for America brigade, to help host a hackathon on the last weekend in October called Hack the Stacks. The event drew over 30 people volunteering to improve their community through open source technology. » Read more

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Open civic dialogue with text messaging

change by citizens

This is the second post in a short series in effort to recognize and celebrate the close of the 2013 Code for America Incubator. This new program was created to support Code for America Fellows as they work towards building startup companies to scale and sustain their Fellowship projects.

The Code for America Incubator is powered by Google for Entrepreneurs.



Last year, our team of Code for America Fellows received a call to action. Our partners at the City of Philadelphia needed a way to reach out to citizens left out of traditional public engagement. So we built a tool that used the simple power of text messaging to help government and citizens connect. We called it Textizen.

» Read more

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The rise of the citizen CIO

What is a citizen CIO?

Are citizen CIOs a threat to local governments or a blessing in disguise? With government IT departments producing more open data and participation from community interest groups and citizens on the rise, we’re beginning to see the start of a new movement within open government: telling our government which technologies to deploy. Citizens are identifying—and some are creating themselves—the next wave of applications and resources for their municipalities, such as a crowdsourced answering platform for city services, an open data catalog, and a civic infrastructure adoption website for fire hydrants and storm drains. With this, the role of the citizen CIO is beginning to emerge. » Read more

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Hackers wanted: Code for America deadline for 2014 Fellowship nears

Quit complaining and start innovating

There are only a few days left to apply. Code for America is looking for developers, designers, researchers, data scientists, and product managers for their 2014 Fellowship. It's a chance to make a difference with code, design, data, and much more. » Read more

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On a mission to change the citizen experience

The Dave and Gunnar Show

In this episode of the Dave and Gunnar Show, I interviewed opensource.com's lead project manager, Jason Hibbets. He recently self-published a book advocating for citizen involvement in local government and shared with us how it's changing everything.

Listeners get insight into how the open source way is shaping how citizens influence change and progress in cities across the US. Jason also shares tips for self-publishing with Lulu.com, how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign, steps for planning your own unconference, like CityCamp, and how he got started with Code for America.

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Hacking the change you want to see

hacking for change in open government

On June 1, the City of Oakland will co-host ReWrite Oakland as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking. ReWrite Oakland will be an all day writeathon that will culminate with the launch of a new website called "Oakland Answers," based on last year’s Code for America project "Honolulu Answers."

Oakland Answers will be citizen-focused website, written in plain-language, that makes it quick and simple for people to find City information and services they are looking for online. City staff and the community will collaborate to answer common questions generated by citizens.

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Civic coding strengthens open source skills

civic hacking in government

I’ve been thinking a bit too much lately about GitHub and Drupal.org. More broadly, I’ve had my mind on open source + community. Sometimes this is called social coding.

Social coding can take on a variety of shapes and sizes but is short-hand for what I can describe as loosely coupled, sometimes geographically distributed collaboration and coordination around open source projects. Civic coding is a form of social coding focused on municipal projects. Civic coding is a big part of what we do in the Brigade and why we’re running The Great American Civic Hack this summer.

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Gov 2.0 rises to the next level: Open data in action

two way government

For many, Gov 2.0 is about putting government in the hands of citizens. Whether it’s a mobile app alerting residents to a local meeting or checking social media networks to see which roads are clear for the morning commute. The term should be defined primarily by its utility in helping citizens or agencies solve problems, either for individuals or the commons, according to a recent article on the subject by Alex Howard on GovFresh. » Read more

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Open government and civic engagement at SXSW

Citizen participation

From the stage of the South by Southwest festival (SXSW), Code for America Founder and Executive Director, Jennifer Pahlka, announced they are now accepting applications for the 2013 Accelerator and 2014 Fellowship. » Read more

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