Note: Knight Foundation has funded Change By Us to help put people at the center of citizen change. The project is funded through Knight Foundation’s Technology for Engagement Initiative.
(New York – November 21, 2011) – Change by Us, a new digital platform that enables citizens to connect with their local governments and collaborate on projects for city improvement, is now available for free download through a not-for-profit open source license. Change By Us launched today in Philadelphia and is already live in New York.
Created by New York-based media design firm Local Projects and national urban advocacy non-profit CEOs for Cities, Change by Us (http://www.changeby.us) is a new kind of public dialogue that seeks to reinvent the relationship between citizens and government through a digital platform designed to foster better engagement in key civic priorities. From citizens and non-profits to community-based organizations and local governments, Change By Us re-imagines the public process as one designed for cooperation, productivity and even fun.
Change By Us launched today in Philadelphia with a press conference by Mayor Michael Nutter and was executed in partnership with Code for America, an organization that connects civic-minded, tech-savvy individuals with industry and governmental leaders to develop innovative applications that can be used in cities across the country. In July, Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched Change By Us in New York City in support of his vision for modernizing city government and making it more customer-focused, innovative and efficient. The project has been generously supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Technology and Engagement Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation and The Case Foundation.
"After Change By Us' successful launch in New York City and now Philadelphia, we are excited to see the code released open source for anyone to use,” said Jake Barton, Principal at Local Projects. “At a time that cities are being squeezed for funds in all directions, Change By Us is a free software platform that turns citizens into collaborators, empowering everyone in a city to make change for good. This triple win for any city costs nothing to install, entices citizens to participate, and creates ample press opportunities to tell stories about positive collaborative change."
The source code and instructions for installation are available for download on Github (https://github.com/localprojects/Change-By-Us) under a Gnu AGPL license. While Change By Us will be available to any city through a not-for-profit open source license, Local Projects and CEOs for Cities are engaging in partnerships with cities around the world to set up, host and maintain the platform.
"At Knight Foundation, we seek out the most innovative ideas for using technology to transform the way people engage with their communities and leaders," said Paula Ellis, Knight's vice president for strategic initiatives. “Change by Us is great opportunity to put new technological tools in the hands of innovative community members, so that citizen action can be at the center of community change.”
"Change By Us puts the capacity to create a better community in the hands of the people -- making it a tool not just any, but every city could use. Now that the platform is open sourced, they can. That’s the power of shared technology,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of http://codeforamerica.org. Code for America worked with Local Projects and CEOs for Cities to help open source the application, develop new features and deploy it in Philadelphia. Code for America’s http://civiccommons.org initiative is proactively supporting the use of reusable technology in governments around the world.
“Reinventing public life in America begins with acknowledging the critical role technology plays in the way we engage with one another,” said Julia Klaiber, Director of External Affairs at CEOs for Cities. “By releasing the code to the open source software community, our hope is that as many cities as possible can leverage the power of Change By Us to create real, citizen-driven change.”
“With the advent of powerful and sophisticated open source Internet-based tools like Change by Us, Philadelphia, New York, and other cities have the opportunity to unleash the full potential of positive, constructive, collective action” said Jeff Friedman, Manager of Civic Innovation & Participation for Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter.
“We’re already proud in New York City that we’ve had the opportunity to partner with Local Projects inshaping Change by Us into a powerful platform for igniting collaboration at many levels. Now that the code has been open sourced, we’re especially excited that it will be that much easier for other cities to use it to ignite civic innovation. We look forward to learning what others are able to achieve with it, and we’re excited about collaborating with them and Local Projects in further developing the platform into one of the defining tools of open government.” Bob Richardson, Director of Strategic Technology Development, NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
# # #
About Local Projects
Local Projects is creating the media design for the 9/11 Memorial Museum, StoryCorps, Change By Us, and the Frank Gehry designed Eisenhower Presidential Memorial. Local Projects is a three-time National Design Award finalist and was named the second most innovative design firm by Fast Company for its redefinition of emotional storytelling. Additional information available at www.localprojects.net.
About CEOs for Cities
CEOs for Cities is a national network of urban leaders from the civic, business, academic and philanthropic sectors dedicated to building and sustaining the next generation of great American cities. Additional information is available at http://www.ceosforcities.org.
About Code for America
Code for America (CfA) connects the talent of the tech industry with local governments to make cities more open, responsive, and efficient. CfA recruits civic-minded, tech-savvy individuals to work with industry and governmental leaders to develop innovative applications that can be used in cities across the country. http://codeforamerica.org.
Jake Barton, Local Projects, +1 212 480 0479, email@example.com
Julia Klaiber, CEOs for Cities, +1 202 420 9451, firstname.lastname@example.org
Abhi Nemani, Code for America, +1 909 206 2220, email@example.com
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.