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This Year in Civic Tech: 2015 in Review

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Christopher Whitaker (@civicwhitaker) co-authored this blog post.

In 2015, the Code for America Brigade had a unprecedented year of growth. The network grew to 133 chapters and more than 40,000 members. This year also saw Brigades achieve some incredible successes locally. Here’s our 2015 Brigade year in review.

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Brigades built technology with and for government

  • CyclePhilly was included as an official part of SEPTA’s Cycle Plan.
  • Houston Police Department officer Randall Baxley led a team that created MyHPDMobile at Open Houston’s National Day of Civic Hacking.
  • Code for Boston built MBTA Ninja, which gives MBTA riders a real-time snapshot of delayed or overcrowded trains. The app got 3,000 hits the first day it launched.
  • Code for Dayton built LotLinker and presented it to the city council. The site supports a local program for returning tax delinquent, abandoned properties to productive use.
  • BetaNYC launched a program with Manhattan’s Borough President that took 11 undergraduate students and put them through a civic hacker bootcamp.
  • Code for Raleigh worked with the City of Raleigh to fork code from Code for Asheville to build a new budget visualization.
  • Open Twin Cities’ Homeless Hackathon ideas inspired a new Minnesota state program.
  • Open Cleveland got the city on Transitapp.
  • Code for Cary built a budget visualization.
  • Beta.nyc redesigned the online NYC City Record.
  • The Code for Hampton Roads project HRT Bus Finder had more than 100% year-over-year growth with 1,300 users and 8,000 sessions monthly.
  • Code for Anchorage got an official resolution supporting their Brigade’s work with the city. They also got fliers put up around city hall.
  • Code for Sacramento launched Open Budget Sacramento.
  • Code for Miami launched MiamiDadecode.org, a free online resource to empower all county residents to discover, access and better understand the laws that govern them.
  • OpenLexington worked with the city to stand up a prototype of available substance abuse treatment services using Code for Boston’s Finda app.
  • Code for ABQ worked with the city of Albuquerque to implement CORS on data.cabq.gov.
  • Open Cleveland helped the Cleveland Land Bank stand up clevelandlots.org, a fork of largelots.org.
  • Open Cleveland Brigade Captain Will Skora introduced cartoDB to the city’s Planning Department, which is now using it to create zoning maps.
  • Code for Miami worked with Miami Dade County’s Animal Services Department to deploy an instance of CutePets that is both populated by bot and by a community manager.
  • OpenOakland’s Soft Story Building map is now listed on the city site as the way to look up your building’s status.

Brigades built technology with and for communities

Brigades reused civic tech projects

Governments hired brigade members

  • Mayor Bowser named Code for DC Brigade Captain Matt Bailey [22510033851_aab10ea24d_k

Christopher Whitaker (@civicwhitaker) co-authored this blog post.

In 2015, the Code for America Brigade had a unprecedented year of growth. The network grew to 133 chapters and more than 40,000 members. This year also saw Brigades achieve some incredible successes locally. Here’s our 2015 Brigade year in review.

###

Brigades built technology with and for government

  • CyclePhilly was included as an official part of SEPTA’s Cycle Plan.
  • Houston Police Department officer Randall Baxley led a team that created MyHPDMobile at Open Houston’s National Day of Civic Hacking.
  • Code for Boston built MBTA Ninja, which gives MBTA riders a real-time snapshot of delayed or overcrowded trains. The app got 3,000 hits the first day it launched.
  • Code for Dayton built LotLinker and presented it to the city council. The site supports a local program for returning tax delinquent, abandoned properties to productive use.
  • BetaNYC launched a program with Manhattan’s Borough President that took 11 undergraduate students and put them through a civic hacker bootcamp.
  • Code for Raleigh worked with the City of Raleigh to fork code from Code for Asheville to build a new budget visualization.
  • Open Twin Cities’ Homeless Hackathon ideas inspired a new Minnesota state program.
  • Open Cleveland got the city on Transitapp.
  • Code for Cary built a budget visualization.
  • Beta.nyc redesigned the online NYC City Record.
  • The Code for Hampton Roads project HRT Bus Finder had more than 100% year-over-year growth with 1,300 users and 8,000 sessions monthly.
  • Code for Anchorage got an official resolution supporting their Brigade’s work with the city. They also got fliers put up around city hall.
  • Code for Sacramento launched Open Budget Sacramento.
  • Code for Miami launched MiamiDadecode.org, a free online resource to empower all county residents to discover, access and better understand the laws that govern them.
  • OpenLexington worked with the city to stand up a prototype of available substance abuse treatment services using Code for Boston’s Finda app.
  • Code for ABQ worked with the city of Albuquerque to implement CORS on data.cabq.gov.
  • Open Cleveland helped the Cleveland Land Bank stand up clevelandlots.org, a fork of largelots.org.
  • Open Cleveland Brigade Captain Will Skora introduced cartoDB to the city’s Planning Department, which is now using it to create zoning maps.
  • Code for Miami worked with Miami Dade County’s Animal Services Department to deploy an instance of CutePets that is both populated by bot and by a community manager.
  • OpenOakland’s Soft Story Building map is now listed on the city site as the way to look up your building’s status.

Brigades built technology with and for communities

Brigades reused civic tech projects

Governments hired brigade members

  • Mayor Bowser named Code for DC Brigade Captain Matt Bailey](http://mayor.dc.gov/release/mayor-bowser-names-matt-bailey-director-technology-innovation)
  • Code for Boston’s Matt Rouser was hired as the CTO of the Department of Neighborhood Development at the City of Boston.
  • Code for Boston’s Kristen Weber worked with Somerville to write content for the city’s website redesign.
  • Code for San Francisco’s Brigade Captain Jesse Biroscak was hired as a product manager for the San Francisco Business Portal.

Brigades won money and awards

  • Code for Charlotte and Code for Anchorage each won $35,000 from the Knight Prototype Fund. Code for Charlotte will use the funds to deploy and maintain Citygram. Anchorage Public Library and Code for Anchorage are working together to create a participatory platform that will allow people to propose projects, workshops or events that the library will facilitate.
  • Code for Anchorage and Open Oakland collaborated with their city government to help win $50,000 grants in the SBA Startup in a Day competition.
  • Open Austin’s Park Equity App was selected as a winner for the U.S. Census Bureau Open Data Challenge. The team demoed the app to 1,000+ people on a webinar moderated by the CTOs of the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce.
  • Code for NRV’s Brigade Captain Ben Schoenfeld won an Open Gov Award for civic hacking and scraping data.
  • Code for Boulder won $20,000 from Ushahidi at a community engagement hackathon.
  • Code for Philly and Code for Boston won Code for America Civic Technology awards in the Brigade category. Code for Philly won for CyclePhilly and Code for Boston won for MBTA Ninja.

Brigades moved the needle on open data in their communities

Brigades spread the word about the civic tech movement

  • Brigade Captain Harlan Weber opened up the Code for America Summit with a talk describing how Code for Boston’s hack night became a local center of gravity for civic innovation in Boston.
  • The Columbia Journalism Review wrote about Code for Hampton Roads’ partnership with the local newspaper, the Daily Press.
  • Open JC hosted a panel at the 2015 Summer Youth Assembly at the United Nations, titled ‘Youth and Civic Tech’.
  • Jill Bjers of Code for Charlotte was invited to Zimbabwe by the U.S. State Department  to speak about civic tech and how citizens can get involved.
  • Slate covered Code for Anchorage and their work making it easier for Alaskan SNAP participants to check their account balance.
  • MIT Press published the Civic Media Project, a collection of over 100 case studies about open data, emerging technologies, community activism. It included a case study by Code for BTV’s Bradley Holt and Jason Pelletier about the Civic Cloud.

What we did together

In addition to working to build community and technology locally, Brigades came together to drive change as a network. Here’s a look at what we did together.

Days of action

The Code for America Brigade network hosted two days of action in 2015: Code Across and National Day of Civic Hacking.

  • CodeAcross included: 60 participating locations across the globe (13 international events); 3,162 participants; 36,900 volunteer hours contributed; and 238 local digital services evaluated in 26 cities.
  • National Day of Civic Hacking included: 100+ participating locations across the U.S.; U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil attending events in South Bend, IN and Chicago, IL; Deputy U.S. CTO Ed Felten attending Code for San Francisco’s event; the US Census Bureau’s launch of CitySDK.

Network Infrastructure

In 2015, Brigades worked with Code for America staff to create infrastructure for the movement. This included the launch of these key resources:

What a year! Thank you to the Brigade Captains, core team members, municipal partners, community partners, and everyone who contributed their time, passion, and skills to make their community a better place. Congratulations on an incredible 2015 .

Have a story we should include? Let us know at brigade-info@codeforamerica.org.