Knight Foundation brings Code for America to Detroit, Macon and Philadelphia

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Emerging from a pool of more than 20 local governments, the cities of Detroit, Macon and Philadelphia have been selected to receive a year of intensive technical assistance from the Code for America fellows.

Modeled after the Peace Corps, the Code for America program recruits the top talent from the technology industry to give a year of service to build innovative web applications for city governments that make them more open, participatory and efficient. 

While 6-8 cities will be chosen for the 2012 program, these cities were the first selected because of their proposed project, community support and the opportunity for impact. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation will help support the projects in all three for 2012. Knight’s funding is part of its Technology for Engagement Initiative, which supports projects that help communities use technology for action. In each city, the fellows will be developing or deploying technology that boosts community engagement.

“As society grows more connected, the challenge for local leaders is to use that technology and social media to better inform and engage communities,” said Damian Thorman, national program director for Knight Foundation, which promotes informed and engaged communities. “Code for America will be working to create new tools that allow citizens to inject their ideas and passion to solve local challenges in partnership with local governments.  We believe Code has tremendous potential to unlock the imaginations of thousands of citizens to improve the lives all over America.”

Through a competitive process, Code for America chooses cities whose proposals reflected a deep understanding of the power that technology can bring to local governments. The 2012 fellows will build on the success of Code for America’s inaugural projects in Boston, Seattle and Philadelphia, where fellows this year created and deployed various applications, ranging from a simple mobile app that helped citizens submit and find public art to a robust engagement platform for civic projects.

“We live in an age of participation,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America, “but our public institutions haven’t benefited equally from the technologies and approaches that have so dramatically changed the business and social landscape in the past decade.” As part of the service-year program, Code for America recruits fellows -- with an emphasis on finding local applicants from the participating cities -- to work with key stakeholders inside city government to collaboratively brainstorm challenges, opportunities and solutions.

Here’s a look at the projects in each city. People interested in learning more about each project and sharing their ideas are encouraged to visit the links below:

 

  • Detroit: Data on vacant properties in Detroit is currently hard to access and unorganized, so the city lacks a clear picture of available real estate. This undercuts future residential and commercial development. The CfA project will build software to engage the community to address urban blight: http://codeforamerica.org/detroit2012
  • Philadelphia: In 2011, the CfA fellows are bringing the civic engagement platform, Change by Us, to Philadelphia, which enables local leaders to solve local problems, in addition to building multiple other apps for Philadelphia, such as tools to explore public art, track city council meetings, find community groups and understand the impact of transportation choices. In 2012, they will build on-top of that platform, not only spreading its use across the city, but also developing new features to increase its effectiveness: http://codeforamerica.org/philadelphia2012
  • Macon: Over the past few years, there has been tremendous advancements in the tools cities have to enhance civic life in their communities, ranging from mobile communication technologies to group coordination platforms. The CfA fellows will bring the latest tools to Macon to stimulate resident participation: http://codeforamerica.org/macon2012

 

The 2012 Code for America fellows will begin their fellowship in January 2012, and will be spending the month of February in their assigned cities, interviewing civic leaders. Throughout the year, they will be based in San Francisco, with the other 20-25 CfA fellows, working together and collaborating, with frequent visits back to the city for research, testing and deployment. The solutions built will be made available to any other city or government in the world to reuse.

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. More at http://codeforamerica.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. More at KnightFoundation.org


For more information contact:

Abhi Nemani, Code for America, abhi@codeforamerica.org, 909-206-2220
Marc Fest, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, fest@knightfoundation.org, 305-908-2677 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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.