November 19, 2010 •
Highlighted Site of the Week – Code for America
Cities in Crisis: We just came back from the Capitolbeat 2010 Conference in Phoenix, where many of the session offerings were discussing the alarming budget situations in the state governments. The effects of the recession are felt especially in the cities. We are in Akron, where our city faces tremendous pressure to address ever-growing needs with ever-shrinking resources. That equation is even more true in Cleveland, and surely is the case in Detroit and many other cities.
Code for America’s Answer: There are many urban renewal efforts out there – but I would like to hold up a very exciting one: Code for America. With its call to connect city governments with web 2.0 talents, Code for America’s idea could bring about a revolution. Any government can run more efficiently and Code for America believes that what we have learned from the social media revolution can be applied to city governments to “become more transparent, connected, and efficient.” Brainstorming, collaboration, experimentation, and new technology – this is what they will bring to address city infrastructure and operations.
“Code for America was founded to help the brightest minds of the Web 2.0 generation transform city governments. Cities are under greater pressure than ever, struggling with budget cuts and outdated technology. What if, instead of cutting services or raising taxes, cities could leverage the power of the web to become more efficient, transparent, and participatory? We believe there is a wealth of talent in the web industry eager to contribute to the rebuilding of America. Code for America gives them the means.”
“Every movement needs heroes.” Code for America is accepting applications from the “best of the best” in web 2.0 coders to become fellows in their program. Fellows would commit to an 11-month program writing code to solve a specific need in a city. (The program would give them a crash-course in city government.) Fellows would receive a stipend in the amount of $35,000, travel expenses, and healthcare benefits. Then they are turned loose to come up with technological magic.
The Cities’ Commitment: Four cities are participating in the 2011 project: Boston, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and Seattle. Each city committed $250,000 to the project. Companies are encouraged to help underwrite the time the fellows spend on the project, and individual donations big or small are greatly appreciated. Applications from other cities are being accepted for the 2012 calendar year.
Code for America offers everything you need to help promote the program to your city government and to your employer.
I am really excited about this program and I plan to spread the word. I would love to see Cleveland participate. As Code for America’s site says: “It’s time to stop wondering, and start coding. It’s time to make it happen.”
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