The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Luke Norris is director of government relations for Code for America, which Knight Foundation supports to build informed and engaged communities. Below, he writes about Miami-Dade County joining the Code for America Fellowship Program with Knight support. Photo: The 2014 class of Code for America Fellows, via Flickr.
We’re excited to welcome Miami-Dade County as a partner for the 2015 Code for America Fellowship Program thanks to the support of Knight Foundation.
"Miami to welcome first Code for America Fellows in Florida" - Press release (09/23/14)
The Code for America Fellowship program pairs local governments with teams of mid-career, civic-minded technologists for one year. The governments and fellows explore answers to local challenges by engaging with the community, building applications and testing the results. Over the past four years, the fellowship program has produced more than 55 Web apps with 30 municipal governments and 103 fellows.
Some of this work includes the Code for America Fellowship in Santa Cruz, Calif., where the team focused on improving and clarifying how new business owners could acquire the right permits—a process that was prohibitively confusing and overwhelming to nascent local entrepreneurs. In response, the fellows built OpenCounter as a simple 24-7 Web interface for business permit applications and tracking. (And Knight later named Open Counter as a winner of the Knight News Challenge on OpenGov.)
Similarly, in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kansas, Code for America Fellows partnered with both cities to focus on entrepreneurship. After conducting extensive research within the community, the fellows set out to improve the basic Web skills of business owners and others in the hopes of creating a healthier community and a more prepared workforce. The result was BizFriendly, an app that helps business owners learn new Web skills and engage with their customers.
Code for America will continue this type of work through our partnership with Miami-Dade County.
The Miami-Dade County Fellowship will focus on supporting economic development, community engagement and open-data efforts. Code for America Fellows will partner with county staff to develop civic applications that will strive to improve how people interact with the Regulatory and Economic Resources department, making essential services easier to access by all residents of Miami-Dade.
As part of the process, Code for America will work with departments to make key data sets more accessible to internal partners, and to better engage the public, while also cultivating data-driven decision-making and user-centered approaches to design, and enabling a greater choice of tools.
The Miami-Dade County application for the Code for America Fellowship stood out because of the strength of the county’s leadership, including Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Henry Sori, director of community information and outreach, and Mike Sarasti, the program manager. Their commitment to developing innovative solutions to impact residents shone through. The fellowship will provide a structure for the city to test new technology applications, new models for collaboration and new strategies for resident engagement that have the potential for widespread adoption.
By showing what’s possible through tested examples, the county will be able to better advocate for and employ smarter, simpler solutions to other civic problems.
We look forward to a great partnership.