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Spaces, Places, and People: Strengthening CfA’s Geo Work, Thanks to Mapzen

mapzen63Code for America is grateful to announce today that Mapzen, an open source mapping lab, has generously donated $500,000 to Code for America. This donation will support Code for America’s efforts to help governments open more geospatial data and to build open-source mapping technology to deliver better government services.

Geodata and mapping have always been close to Code for America’s heart. Over the last four years, CfA Fellows and Brigades have included many talented geographers. We’re lucky to have Michal Migurski on the team as CTO, a leader in the OpenStreetMap community with deep experience building beautiful maps at Stamen. We’ve also been fortunate to have the backing of great partners in the mapping space, like Esri and Mapbox.

We’ve seen that maps can be a powerful way to make public data more understandable and relevant to citizens. Code for America city partners have opened hundreds of new sets of geographically-interesting data, with GIS data often among the first data that governments publish. By opening foundational information like parcel and addressing data, governments empower citizen technologists to build better maps and tools.

“We at Mapzen are so impressed by the work of Code for America and its impact. Having seen the benefits of open mapping data here in New York, we’re excited to see other applications in other cities. We look forward to a great partnership.”
– Randy Meech, CEO of Mapzen 

We’re excited to deepen this work with Mapzen’s generous support. This year, it’s already helping fund efforts including:

  • Several 2014 Fellowship teams are building civic tech using open spatial data and mapping. TransitMix, a tool that makes it dramatically easier for both governments and citizens to design and remix transit systems, is another example. It had 16,000 users in just 3 weeks after launch, and now they are piloting case studies with a handful of transit agency partners.
  • We’re thrilled to have two geo companies in the 2014 CfA Accelerator cohort: Trailhead Labs and AmigoCloud. Trailhead Labs is collaborating with CfA on our effort to scale the OpenTrails standard, with a training course for nearly a dozen agencies, technical integration in progress with Esri R&D, and advisors from the Trust for Public Land, the National Recreation and Park Association, and Strava. (Check out the Outside magazine article on OpenTrails.)
  • In response to growing interest from governments, we’ve put together a training on new mapping tools. Over 50 governments participated at the live web session, and hundreds more have already watched it.

Projects like these are part of a broad movement to make government data more open, useful, and meaningful. We work with cities and counties who are committed to making data open and machine-readable by default. Just since January 2014, 12 municipalities working with Code for America have passed open data policies or created open data portals, and at least four cities have hired executive-level open data positions. Check out the beta version of CfA’s Open Data Playbook and the U.S. Cities Open Data Census for more.

What’s next: Want to help?

We’ll be scoping out v.1 of a standardized format for open parcel data. If you’re interested in helping, drop a note to Michal Migurski.

We’re cataloging the state of open parcel data in the U.S. Cities Open Data Census. Help us with the effort today by filling out the census for your city and county, for parcel data and other sets that aren’t yet complete.

Join your local Brigade to help advocate for your city to open key geodata sets like parcel and addressing data, and to build civic technology that makes this data useful.

At the 2014 CfA Summit next week, one of the topics on the agenda is how opening parcel and addressing data can be a building block for civic developers to build a range of applications. If you’ll be there, check out the session on making parcel information useful on Wednesday, and join us with Mapzen for a unconference discussion on Using Maps for Civic Dialogue on Thursday.

Thank you, Mapzen, for helping to make all of this possible!

Read Mapzen’s announcement about their donation here.