Interviews and Events and Apps: Oh My! A Report from Month 2

Map of Fellow Ryan Resella's February check-ins.

When youai??i??re doing something for the first time, you never know how itai??i??s going to go. Last month I reported on the results from the first-ever CfA Training, and now Iai??i??m pleased to share a little bit about the first ever City Residency month, as our fellows have returned from four weeks in City Hall with their municipal government counterparts. There have been challenges big and small, and weai??i??ve learned a lot. Overall, though, we couldnai??i??t be happier with the results. To give you just a taste, collectively the first CfA fellows conducted 444 interviews with stakeholders, held 4 DataCamps, attended 68 other community events, and have at least 12 side projects (apps, redesigns, etc) in the works for their cities.

I want to again start with an appreciation for the brave folks in our cities who piloted this program with us and (in all but one case) did it with such grace, goodwill, patience, and thoughtfulness. In Philadelphia, Jeff Friedman could not have been a better advocate for the team; with his love notes (thereai??i??s nothing like getting an email in week 2 saying ai???The fellows are awesome. CfA is awesomeai???), his vocal support for zoloft generalized anxiety disorder. #Zoloft online. what is zoloft used for. the program, and his tireless efforts to introduce the fellows to basically everyone in Philly who cares about neighborhoods and community, Jeff has made his mark not only in his city, but on the program forever. Dana Conroy, Nigel Jacob, Chris Osgood, Patricia Boyle-McKenna, and CIO Bill Oates in Boston were another truly all-star team, digging deep into the potential of our fellows there, thinking hard about the value we can unlock together. I didnai??i??t have a chance to visit our wonderful Seattle team, but the reports from Julie Oai??i??Brien, CIO Bill Schrier, Bruce Blood, and Amy Hirotaka there tell a story of community building, mutual learning and true partnership. To all our city partners, thank you. Future fellows and city partners will embark on their journeys following the maps you have drawn for them, as part of a program you co-created, and which will forever bear your mark.

No program goes exactly as planned, however, and our team of intrepid fellows in the District of Columbia had a less doxycycline for dogs. #Generic Doxycycline. doxycycline dosage. welcoming experience. Between the time we selected DC to be one of our pilot cities and the time the fellows arrived for their residency, the city got a new mayor, which left us with little insight into the District’s intentions with our contract. Most of our stakeholders had left the DC government so, upon arrival, our fellows weren’t greeted by familiar faces, but instead by new officials unsure about the CfA program and what our fellows were doing there. So unlike our other teams that had desks in city hall and city officials to show them around, the DC fellows were forced to rely on the generosity of Clay Johnson to house them for the month in Big Window Labs. We donai??i??t exactly know the fate of the DC partnership, but nonetheless, we remain committed to the Civic Commons project and to fellows working to save the government millions of dollars by allowing jurisdictions to share applications, data, and best practices. We will make this work one way or the other, but weai??i??d prefer to make it work with the cooperation of the agency who started it and contracted for it, and we hope to have happy news on that front in the next month.

Fortunately, this was the biggest glitch the program hit ciprofloxacin reviews for uti. #Cipro reviews. bactrim reviews. this month, and it didnai??i??t stop the CfA DC fellows team from doggedly pursuing their mission. And dogged pursuit is an apt description for not only the DC team, but all the teams, and the results attest to that. Dan Melton is going to share an overview of some of the apps that have come out of this month so far, so for today Iai??i??ll just talk about a few of the things weai??i??ve learned this month.

What weai??i??ve learned

A core challenge for the Boston project is getting access to the data the project requires. The Departments involved in the project are committed to sharing data in theory, but in practice, many have well-founded (and sometimes unfounded) concerns about turning over sensitive information. One thing the Fellows team in Boston found was that just showing up and asking for access to massive amounts of data is not an effective approach. But when you build an app and can demonstrate how access to data will make the app work better, you have a win. Finding that win involves listening closely to their concerns. When the Fellows met with BPS COO Kim Rice, she mentioned that bus routing information was stored separately from bus location information, and that combining the two datasets would open up interesting possibilities. Fellows Joel Mahoney, Max Ogden, and Ryan Resella proposed a “Where’s My Bus?” app that would allow parents and students to get real-time information on school bus location and arrival times, instead of calling the BPS call center (which fields thousands of calls each week during the winter). The tangible value of the app convinced the City to open up access to 3 different datasets, which had been previously inaccessible. It also demonstrated how where to buy doxycycline for dogs. #Buy Doxycycline. where to buy doxycycline over the counter. the Fellows worked and what they were doing with the data, which helped to cement the City’s trust. As Bill Oates put it, ai???When looking to get a particular data set or feed, have a use for it that provides value for the data owner. Wait until you know the value you can provide until you ask. Don’t fire til you see the whites of their eyes.”

Another lesson we learned is that when it comes to data, the whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts. Departments want better analysis, but to get it, they have to share. For example, the Boston Library system — because of Patriot Act privacy concerns — literally cannot do market research/analysis without getting data from other sources. I think this will be a major motivation for the continued opening-up of civic data.

The biggest takeaway for us for the month came from Stuart Alter in Philadelphia. The Philly team was in the midst of a debrief from the month, talking about what worked and what didnai??i??t, and how to gauge the success of the city tour, and he put things in perspective: ai???You did great presenting, meeting people, and taking in a lot of information… But the proof is in the pudding. Will you go back and make some silly toy that looks cool but no one uses? Or will you really take to heart what you heard and then create something that actually accomplishes something for the city and citizens?ai???

That the responsibility we have coming out of February. Everything our fellows accomplished was only possible because of the people in the cities who took the time to meet with them and share their insights. One example comes to mind. We were in a meeting with a ai???Street Workerai??? from the Boston Centers for Youth & Families — the hub of afterschool for programs for children in the city. He described a 12-year old heai??i??s currently working with, ai???He just lost his older brother in a gang shooting, and I have seen that story before. The family will get some grief counseling now, but in ten years, the little brother will end up in jail for having shot two members of that gang. But if you could have only gotten him involved in the community when heai??i??s young, gotten doing something good with his free time, that makes all the difference; literally, a lifetime of difference.ai??? Thatai??i??s why his job is to go out and find at-risk students and engage them in community programs. At the end of the interview Erik Michaels-Ober, one of our fellows, thanked him for taking the time, pointing out, ai???We know what an hour of your time means…ai??? And that goes for every one of the 444 people who took time out of their busy schedules to sit down with our teams. We owe them.

Jennifer Pahlka Founder/Executive Director

Founder of Code for America. Mom. Keeper of chickens.
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