I’m [insert name], a 2011 Code for America fellow. Code for America is a non-profit creating and leveraging reusable technology to help solve cities problems.
I’m here today to talk with you about the Civic Commons project that was created in partnership between OpenPlans and Code for America.
Civic Commons came about in response to a specific need.
Here is the problem: Many cities across the country are building their own apps; often at great expense. We don't just mean that everyone seems to be launching an app contest these days, but the fact that core city functions are being written from scratch over and over again, often badly, representing a massive duplication of effort and waste of resources cities can ill afford.
That expense can be greatly reduced if the solutions developed by one city can be shared by others.
Further, many cities that can’t develop their own solutions to begin with would also be able to reuse the shared code, spending less on applications. Many of these cities are locked into expensive vendor contracts, so reusing open source code can provide cities with leverage, and more choices.
So, how about an example? Every city needs to manage it's addresses and has some system to do so. Ideally, they only have one system for this, minimizing problems with keeping this information up to date. More likely, they have multiple such systems, and many problems with conflicting data. One such city is San Francisco.
The leadership in San Francisco developed an application called Enterprise Addressing System (or EAS) that solves this problem with a single centralized solution. By integrating many inputs into the system, they have reduced their costs, and raised tax revenue by ensuring that property listings are up to date.
San Francisco is interested in sharing EAS, solving this problem for many other cities. This can happen again and again, with solutions coming from many cities to be shared all across the country.
So, we've talked about the problem, lets talk about the solution.
One way of thinking of Civic Commons is like OKCupid. We’re interested in matchmaking between cities and applications.
So we’ve already made some progress - we introduced the civic commons website at the Gov 2.0 summit last year...
... and now we conducted about 100 interviews with government IT folks, vendors, and other stakeholders here in the Bay Area and elsewhere; to determine what cities’ needs are, and how people like them would want to use the Civic Commons to solve their problems.
...and we've been prototyping wireframes and testing them with users.
So how can you get involved? You can...
Tell us about existing apps that you think can be open sourced...
Follow us on Twitter, sign up for announcements, or read our blog....
Explore and contribute to our wiki...
... and you can contribute to any of the Code for America projects, all of which are going into the Civic Commons as well.
We woulds also really appreciate your joining our public mailing list, and helping us to figure all of this out.
Sharing is good. So are you. Help us make it happen!