Fellow Richa Argawal speaks at CfA launch with City Manager Deanna Santana, Karen Boyd, Jan Pahlka of CfA, and Mayor Jean Quan.
Spring has come early for Open Data and Open Government in Oakland.
At a recent City Hall press conference, Mayor Jean Quan, City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf and City Administrator Deanna J. Santana welcomed an innovative team from Code for America to Oakland to help the city move into the 21st century.
The Oakland is one of 10 municipalities that will participate in CfA's 2013 national fellowship program. Oakland was selected for its commitment to engaging community, as well as openness and government transparency.
“Participating in the 2013 Code for America fellowship program will be another huge step in the city of Oakland’s efforts to foster innovation locally,” Schaaf said. "This
is the future of government. It's a public-private
partnership, that is smarter, faster and better and a whole new energy
about engaging our citizens. This is Oakland ... this is so Oaklandish!"
Three CfA fellows will work with employees at City Hall and the community for the next four weeks to identify needs and then develop new apps and tools for greater openness, efficiency and participation in local government. Their primary focus will be on two subject areas, which are common challenges for local governments every where: Public records requests and contracting/procurement information.
"When I heard Code for America described as ‘The Peace Corp for Geeks,’ I knew the program would be a good fit in Oakland,” Quan said. "With our tech-savvy local workforce, our grassroots creative community and our rich history of activism and civic service, Oakland will prove to be the perfect partner. And quite frankly we needed a younger, fresher eye and we hope ... we're more efficient as a government and we are also looking at points of entry for citizens so they can ... get more information online."
Through its fellowship program, Code for America is partnering with local governments to help them catch up with technology and to bridge the other "digital divide" between the private and public sectors. The private sector has evolved exponentially over the past decade, adopting new technologies and new ways of working at a dizzying speed. But governments nationwide - particularly local governments - have fallen behind. Code for America collaborates with local governments seeking to keep pace with the community they serve by creating and implementing new applications and by demonstrating new ways of resolving local challenges.
And the way it does that is the creation and reuse of open source code, partly form its own staff and also from the larger tech community. Oakland has an advantage in being one of the only cities to have formed a local CfA brigade before the fellowship program started and to have held two city-sponsored "Code for Oakalnd" hackathons.
The Oakland Brigade is planning another Hackathon, which will be part of CfA's the first Code Across America in 16 cities, eight in fellowship cities. It will take place at the 82nd Avenue library in East Oakland on Feb. 23. Visit engageoakland.com/opendataday for more information.