code-for-america-cary

Cary Gets Code for America Brigade

code-for-america-cary

Cary, NC – Code for America (CfA) started in 2009. It’s a non-profit, non-partisan organization that brings together programmers, designers, data analysts and other web-industry professionals to work with municipalities to promote openness, participation and efficiency in local government. Now, Cary has it’s own Code for America Brigade.

Repurposing & Reusing Technology

CfA is all about public service through code. Brigades are specifically designated the task of reusing and repurposing existing technology for local governments. Why reinvent the wheel?

Open Data is a prime example. Governments collect oceans of data on citizens, costs and process. Open data uses existing tools to put that information on the web where it is available to everyone.

Code Something

CfA Brigades bring together programmers to code something useful, like a mashup of crime data with a Google map.

Vast server farms of data exist about our community – maps and water usage, crime, business permits and home sales, to name just a few. Pulling the data together so it can become useful for the community is the goal of the CfA Cary Brigade.

27 Apps in 2012

In 2012, CfA Brigades around the country created 27 municipal apps, including Honolulu Answers, Where’s My Schoolbus and Adopt-a-Hydrant. In the Triangle, the R/Greenway app was developed at Raleigh CityCamp.

CfA Cary can implement some of these open source applications for our own community, or write code for a new municipal app and share it.

2012 Code for America cities include Austin, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia and New Orleans.

Code in the Triangle

Code for America started in the Triangle in Raleigh and is rapidly spreading. The more data we can pull together, the more we can understand regional issues. The goal is to create Brigades across towns in the Triangle and band together into a Code for America Division.

Cary Brigade Meeting

The CfA Brigade in Cary had its beginnings in the Technology Task Force, convened by Cary Town Council last year.

But the idea of a CfA brigade in Cary really got its start at  Cary Open Data Day in February.

TechnologyTank.org (former members of the Tech Task Force) provided organizational and operational help forming the brigade, including recruitment of co-captains Robert Campbell and Laura Hamlyn.

The Cary Brigade will hold a kick-off meeting on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 starting at 7:00 PM (EST) in Cary. The information is loaded in the Triangle Code for America Meetup Site. Register and join the Cary Code for America Brigade.

Code for America – Cary Brigade Meetup
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
7:00 PM

Cary Chamber of Commerce
307 N. Academy Street, Cary, NC
Register

What is next for the Triangle?

Durham and Morrisville are also in the process of forming Brigades. The plan may be to form a Code for America Division for the Triangle, something that does not yet exist in the Code for America structure.  The Triangle Region would then apply to be a Code for America City in 2015 with support from the municipalities of the Triangle.

If this sounds cool, then join the Brigade in your Town or City, or help us here in Cary.

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Ian Henshaw of TechnologyTank.org contributed to this article.

9 replies
  1. Gary in Cary, NC
    Gary in Cary, NC says:

    re: “to promote openness, participation and efficiency in local government”

    Tech Committee,

    Please consider passing along this usability tip to anyone on the Town staff that composes emails to Town of Cary email subscribers.

    It does not require any additional staff or budget increase to implement. Honest!

    Often, when I receive an email promoting an item or event the email tells me to search the Town of Cary website for the real details.
    Site search at the site leaves a bit to be desired.

    Here is the proposed usability workaround for use by staff when composing any emails that go out to residents:

    1. Use the FREE website: http://tinyurl.com/
    2. Choose the Custom alias (optional) box.

    Email Text Used in the past:

    And for more ways to play in Cary, search “Parks and Greenways” at http://www.townofcary.org and follow us on Twitter @TOC_Fun.

    Suggested Email Text:

    And for more ways to play in Cary, click: http://tinyurl.com/Fun-In-Cary and follow us on Twitter @TOC_Fun.

    or

    And for more ways to play in Cary, click: http://tinyurl.com/PlayInCary and follow us on Twitter @TOC_Fun.

    (To do the above, I merely copy/pasted the length Town of Cary URL into a box, and then experimented with a Custom Alias.)

    Thanks for your consideration.
    All of the above is free of charge.

  2. Ian Henshaw
    Ian Henshaw says:

    Gary, Thank you for your comments and possible solution. The Technology Task Force did have quite a lot to say about the Website design and construction and provided recommendations for a Generation 6 site that would solve many of the Town Website usability issues like the issue you have pointed out. A problem with the Town Website is that content is put on static pages and the page contents are swapped out over time, so any entry links like you propose may stop working over time…

    One thing we felt the Town needs to have is their own URL shortener so it looks authoritative, but did not have time to come up with a single recommendation from the options that are available. What do you think?

    If you are interested, how about joining the Cary Code for America Brigade?

    • Brent
      Brent says:

      …and when they “revamped” the web site not too long ago, they apparently used some really awful convention of adding some number of underscores to existing URLs to generate new URLs, and believe it or not, it has the appearance that this was done manually — I discovered several broken links after they “updated” the web site, which were broken because of the wrong number of underscore characters in the URL!

      !

      !!

      !!!

    • Gary in Cary, NC
      Gary in Cary, NC says:

      Progress!!!

      received in an TOC email minutes ago, and recipient was not told to “work” (search) to find something!

      For more information, visit ncaa.com/diibaseball, search “National Training Complex” at http://www.townofcary.org, or call (919) 387-5844. And for more fun in Cary, follow us on Twitter @TOC_Fun and check out our Meetings and Events Calendar.

      Meetings and Events Calendar = hyperlink to:
      http://www.townofcary.org/Town_Council/Meetings____Public_Notices_Calendar.htm

      Nice.

      • Ian Henshaw
        Ian Henshaw says:

        Yea! It is good to see that the Town is starting to adopt some of the 71 recommendations of the Technology Task Force. Send a note to the Town of Cary Public Information Officer, Susan Moran and let her know that you appreciate the courtesy of direct links in electronic communications.

  3. Gary in Cary, NC
    Gary in Cary, NC says:

    Ian,
    You’re welcome and I still remain convinced the Town Staff should use what’s available, for FREE, even if there might be breakage later. I have the opinion that Cary tries to “roll their own” too much in some things.

    Another email received today shows:
    Once at least a half-gallon (approximately one, 2-liter soda bottle) is collected, properly label the container “Used Cooking Oil” and call Public Works & Utilities Customer Service at (919) 469-4090 to schedule a free curbside pickup. To learn more, search “Residential Cooking Oil” at http://www.townofcary.org.

    Appreciate invite, but not really interested. I’ll gladly test any creations for usability!

    My mentor: Jakob Nielsen

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