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Midwest Selected for Code for America Brigade Regional Pilot

I’m excited to announce that the Code for America Communities team selected the Midwest as the first Code for America Brigade region. The regional structure will support existing Code for America Brigade cities, as well as work to expand the number of Brigade cities in the region. I’m excited to work with Code for America as Regional Coordinator for the Midwest Brigade region.

Code for America Brigade

The Code for America Brigade program is an international network of people committed to using their voices and hands, in collaboration with local governments, to make their cities better. The Code for America Brigade program began in late 2012 with 16 cities. I’ve been tremendously proud to be part of the rapid growth of the Brigade program.

The Code for America Brigade program is now active in 35 cities and has organizers in 54 cities including chapters in Poland, Japan, and Ireland. A new Code for America Brigade was recently launched in Rockford, Illinois as a direct result of Smart Chicago Collaborative’s work with the Illinois OpenTech Challenge.

To give you a sense of how much the program has grown, here’s a picture of the first Captain’s class.

Code for America Summit 2012, Photo by Burt Lum

Code for America Captains sitting in Code for America’s basement, Photo by Burt Lum

And here we are today…

Caktus @ CfA Summit #10

And this isn’t even all of the Brigade…

With the number of Brigades expanding at a rapid pace, we needed new coordination structures in order to effectively manage the program.

At the last Code for America Summit in October 2013, we discussed the idea of having regional Brigades.

CfA Brigade Captain Meeting

Code for America Brigade Captain Meeting at the Code for America Summit, Photo by Bert Lum

After months of collaboration on the subject, Code for America decided that the Midwest will be the pilot region, with coordination coming out of the Smart Chicago Collaborative. The Midwest has great potential and achievements in civic innovation. Many Midwestern cities, including Chicago and Detroit, have implemented open data policies and are running open data portals.

Additionally, there are many civic apps that originated from Midwest cities. From small volunteer apps like the Flu Shot Finder to civic startups like LocalData, the Midwest boasts a large number of civic technologists working to use the data opened up by cities to improve the lives of residents. Civic innovation in Chicago is particularly strong with OpenGovHackNights serving as a model for the rest of the Brigade and events like OpenGov Chicago meetups are some of the largest attended civic hacking events in the country.

I’m excited to play a part in helping expand civic innovation in the Midwest. If you have questions about the new program, feel free to reach out to us at Midwest[at]codeforamerica.org.