Urban Fold

Gov 2.0 Gets Boost from 'Peace Corps for Geeks'

The nonprofit Code for America (CfA) gets a laudatory write-up by Holly Finn in The Wall Street Journal for bringing transparency and innovation to local governments with stealth teams of "computer-savvy SEALs."

Operating at the leading edge of the so-called "Government 2.0" movement to use technology and the Internet to better connect and empower citizens and governments is Code for America, whose fellowship program, "handpicks a team of sprightly tech stars each year to give up their lives and jobs for 12 months, offer their services to local governments nationwide and bring the Web to the wide-eyed."

Finn profiles the "Gov 2.0 standout" and some of the myriad projects they've helped complete across America: "CfA fellows have designed more than 35 apps, for everything from urban blight to school buses. In New Orleans, they coded a system to more accurately sort the backlog of properties for demolition. In Santa Cruz, Calif., they're streamlining the application process to open a business. The group runs an Accelerator for civic start-ups. Its work presses governments to make information more visible (530 data sets liberated) and helps communities to mobilize (write-a-thons with 2,500 people). Textizen, a citizen feedback app built this year, has already been repurposed in three cities."

The benefits to local agencies are not confined to the software delivered by CfA's "Millennial brainiacs," but extends to the attitude with which they approach government. "'People underestimate how differently they think about the government,' Ms. Pahlka [CfA's founder and executive director] says. Opaque is out. Openness is the next generation's default setting when they're up against big problems."

Full Story: A Peace Corps for Civic-Minded Geeks


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