Getting Started in ATX

For many of us, examples are necessary to bring theory to life. The level of interest in our work in Austin is beyond encouraging and we’d like to share a few examples of how the community is leading the way. On Tuesday, March 12, there will be aAi??Brigade Launch PartyAi??at Austin City HallAi??during SXSW to help channel the resources and talent in Austin’s civic tech community toward lasting change. Ai??There will be a short presentation and discussion of Code Across America at theAi??Austin Community Technology and Telecommunications Commission regular meeting on Wednesday evening as well.

On February 25, we hostedAi??Code Across America ATX. In addition to the hackers who spent the day building and brainstorming, city employees from a few departments were on hand to offer resources and feedback. The day began with project presentations and teams forming around them, followed by groups discussing their roles and game plan for the day. By the end of the event, we had a few apps, tons of feedback, and plans to continue projects. Here are a few:

Find It
This web app allows you to enter an address and find Austin city services nearby. Chip Rosenthal just put Find It into production, check it outAi??here. When you launch the application, it will try to determine your location and search for nearby listings. Currently, it will display post offices, libraries, fire stations, andAi??moon towers. The more data we get, the more useful the app becomes. You can view the codeAi??here. Future features could include the ability to text your query, lists of wi-fi hotspots, classes, and meetups, and anything you would find useful. Get involved!

Good Sect, Bad Sect
During our residency in Austin, we fell in love with the Hike and Bike Trail and took advantage of the numerous bike lanes in the city. Many ideas for bike-related apps were floated, and one group began with police department data to create a crowdsourced bike safety app meant to alert riders about dangerous areas or intersections. During the demos, the lead developer of this project, Phillip Dhingra, mentioned the need for more detailed city data on roads affected by construction or special events, and more regular releases of city data in developer-friendly formats. You can see the prototypeAi??here, and view the codeAi??here.

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The Gardenmate app is meant to pair volunteers with available plots in community gardens. Currently, there’s no streamlined way for volunteers or garden managers to match their interests, and the data often resides in complicated spreadsheets. This team divided into a front-end and back-end group, the results of which can be seen on itsAi??wiki pageAi??andAi??Github repository. Nathan Wilkes, a city employee who is active in Austin’s urban gardening community (and previously installed the bike racks at the event venue) proposed the project, while others joined because of personal interest, their spouse’s passion for gardening, curiosity or to provide technical guidance. The bottom line is that it takes more than coders to launch and sustain a project; Nathan had been thinking about this project for a long time, and the team went from pitch to prototype in only a day. Development continues and is being coordinated via aAi??Google Group.

Remember, this is a process, not a procedure. And we need your help.Ai??Drop us a line at austin [@] codeforamerica.org to jump in on any of the projects or get something started. If you’re in another city, fork the projects above (or any of the Code for America apps) for your area. Or, start small instead of building from scratch. For example, after seeing a press release and some pdf’s of road closures during the upcoming SXSW festival, we thought it would be moreAi??mobile-friendly on Google MapsAi??than in a pdf. Creating a more innovative government means leading by example. The civic tech community is on the move in Austin, the city has been extremely cooperative, and we hope the launch of a Brigade can help sustain the momentum.

Visit theAi??event wikiAi??or thisAi??StorifyAi??for photos, tweets and details about Code Across America ATX. Ai??As we’re fond of saying, we’re just getting started. Ai??For those at SXSW, don’t forget to stop by our panels,Ai??Cool Like You, Gov Private Sector EnvyAi??andAi??Future of Cities: Technology in Public Service atarax dosage. #Atarax reviews. atarax vs xanax. , as well as our founderAi??Jen Pahlka’s keynoteAi??(get a preview byAi??watching her amazing TED talk!). Ai??Finally, don’t forget to sign up for the Brigade Launch PartyAi??here. Ai??See you soon!

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