Here’ a pretty heretical idea: get “rockstar tech and design people . . . to work in the one environment that represents pretty much everything they’re supposed to hate . . . government.” Code for America (CfA) “aims to improve the relationships between citizens and government . . . (it) engages citizens in building apps, knowledge hubs and workshops.”
Founder Jennifer Pahlka’s 12 minute TED presentation brings the concept to life. Watch it.
I got involved on a personal level with CfA’s local partner, Code for Boston, because it struck me as way to bring a new dimension of innovation to Massachusetts’ clean energy sector. Code for Boston is already engaged with the City of Boston and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, a progressive regional planning authority.
It’s not pie-in-the-sky. Some examples of apps developed through CfA hacks:
- Adopt-a-hydrant allows citizens to claim responsiblity for shoveling out fire hydrants after heavy snowfall.
- Civic Commons Legal and Procurement Guide is a wiki-based resource for city staff to keep up the the laws, regulations, and best practices.
- Open Counter streamlines business permit applications through a simple and 24-7 interface for business.
Typical CfA hacks produce apps for citizens and businesses in days or weeks; sharp contrast to months or years for state-built software designed to be deployed on government servers. So, what applications can we build that will remove barriers to and accelerate adoption of clean energy and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions?
My day job might help bring your ideas to life. Have an idea for an energy-related app? Let me know. Even better, get involved in CfA in your city.