Chicago <3s Code for America

Next week, Smart Chicago will be at the Code for America Summit in San Francisco.  We’re big fans and supporters of Code for America and we’re excited to take part in the summit. Dan O’Neil is one of the featured speakers at the event and Christopher Whitaker will be assisting with the Code for America Brigade training day. Code for America has grown tremendously over the past three years. What started out as a a fellowship program for four cities, has grown to an international effort for civic good.

Smart Chicago has partnered with Code for America in a number of ways over the past three years. The biggest partnership has been the development of the city’s Open311 system and Service Tracker. Code for America Fellows, Smart Chicago, Chicago CTO, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel The way that Code for America’s fellowship programs work is that cities have to apply to be a fellowship city and provide funding for the program. Smart Chicago wrote the proposal for Chicago to be a partnership city. (And then funded it once we became a fellowship city.)

Smart Chicago also played host to the Chicago fellowship interviews for the 2014 fellowship year.

Chicago has also been heavily involved in the Code for America Brigade Program.  The Chicago OpenGov Hack Nights are affiliated with the Brigade program and serve as a model for the rest of the country. Chicago Brigade Captain and Smart Chicago Project Manager Christopher Whitaker both lives streams and blogs about these events.

The organizers of OpenGov Hack Night participate in a CfA Captain’s hangout on how to run a hack night. Video by Code for America.

The advantage of Chicago’s involvement in the Code for America was on full display in 2013.  In January, the City of Boston declared a public health emergency due to the outbreak of flu in Boston. Code for America’s Brigade Captain in Boston reached out to Chicago’s community and worked with Tom Kompare to get Chicago’s flu shot app up and running in Boston in less than 36 hours.

For National Day of Civic Hacking, Open City Apps launched Chicago Councilmatic – an app that allows residents to keep track of legislation the city council is working on. Councilmatic was originally a Code for America fellowship project for the City of Philadelphia. Derek Eder and Forest Gregg worked with CfA 2011 fellow Mjumbe Poe  to launch a Chicago version derived from the Philadelphia version.

Smart Chicago Collaborative has also contracted with Code for America Incubator Company LocalData as part of the Civic Works Project. LocalData is a mobile web app that helps to attach data to building footprints or parcel data. Smart Chicago is providing this service to the Southwest Organizing Project to support their organizing work around housing. 

We continue to be excited about the rapid growth of Code for America and the civic innovation community. We’ll see you at the Summit!