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Picture: Code for America Helps Raleigh

Code for America Helps Raleigh

Raleigh, NC – Last night the Triangle Code for America Brigades came together to help the City of Raleigh with their Open Data Portal. The task was to clean up the tagging and metadata for all the data files that have been added since the version 1.0 portal was launched in March 2013. At the beginning of 2014, Raleigh will be migrating the portal to version 2.0 and wants to have the data as clean as possible and so most useful to citizens and entrepreneurs.

Representatives from the Raleigh, Durham, Cary and (brand new) Morrisville Brigades met at the North Carolina Innovation Center for a mini-hackathon to clean up the Raleigh data sets.

Data Identification Problem

Jason Hare, Open Data Manager for Raleigh gives direction

Jason Hare, Open Data Manager for Raleigh, gives the assembled group direction.

Hason Hare, the Open Data Manager for Raleigh gave us direction on what Raleigh needs. Each data set was to be reviewed for such things as data set naming, identifying the proper data category, cleaning up tagging, and verifying proper attribution for source of the data and licence of the data (Public Domain).

Having a common nomenclature for data descriptions and metadata is important. Currently, there is no standard for data set naming, field naming or metadata. This becomes a problem when open data sets from multiple municipalities are combined; what data in City A corresponds to the data from City B? Until there are uniform definitions and structure, Open Data will have problems with data integration across regions.

Issues of correctly naming data sets also has some importance.  An example given by Jason is that police “crime” data sets are more accurately described as police “incident” data sets.  As Jason sees it, an incident can be reported immediately, but there might be a lengthy process to properly identify a crime.

Data Definition Solution

There is light at the end of this open data tunnel as Jason has been invited to attend a meeting of the top US cities with Open Data programs to review data categorization and nomenclature.  The meeting has been called by the Technology Office of the White House to start developing a data nomenclature.  There is a high priority in solving this issue before it becomes overly burdensome for all of the Open Data programs.

It is good to see Raleigh included with the top US cities at the forefront of Open Data.

Related Articles:

Pictures from Reid Serozi and Jason Hibbets

Preview of the revised Raleigh Open Data Portal

Crowdsourcing Open Raleigh

Raleigh, NC – All hands on deck! The Open Data equivalent of a barn raising is about to happen in Raleigh this Thursday, December 5, 2013. The Raleigh Open Data Portal is pending a major revision and things like structure and metadata need to be cleaned up to make this site as useful as possible to citizens and entrepreneurs.

You do not want to miss out on the opportunity of participating in this event of major importance to the Triangle (and NC) where municipalities, civic groups and vendors will be collaborating for social good.  No coding skills required. Just mad civic-minded organization skills needed.

Jason Hare, the Open Data Manager for Raleigh, and Reid Serozi, Data Solutions Architect for Socrata, are organizing this event to be held at the new North Carolina Innovation Center. All of the local Code for America Brigades are expected to be participating in this event. (Note: Jason is a Brigade Captain with Code for Morrisville and Reid is a Brigade Captain with Code for Raleigh.  Disclosure: I am a Brigade Captain with Code for Cary)

Crowdsourcing Open Raleigh Details

  • What: Crowdsourcing Open Raleigh
  • Where: North Carolina Innovation Center, 217 West Jones St. Raleigh, NC 27603
  • When: Thursday, December 5th starting at 6pm
  • Why: Make an impact in the Triangle
  • What to bring: Laptop, small extension cord, notebook, markers
  • RSVP: Triangle Code for America Meetup Group

Related Blog Posts

Code for America Logo

Triangle Adds Brigades to Code for America

Research Triangle, NC – Code for America has released a list of 15 cities that will be added to the Brigade Program in 2013 which is great news for the Triangle. Both Cary and Durham have been added and will join Raleigh with Code for America Brigades in the coming year. Cities like Austin, Boston, Chicago, San Diego, Seattle and Washington DC have Code for America Brigades.

With this announcement, the Triangle will have 3 of the 31 Brigades in Code for America (NC has 4 Brigades including Asheville). This is a strong indicator of the developing Technology ecosystem here in the Triangle.

What is Code for America?

Code for America aims to improve the relationships between citizens and government. We help governments restructure to create low-risk settings for innovation, engage citizens to create better services, and support ongoing competition in the govtech marketplace.

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What is a Code for America Brigade?

The Code for America Brigade Program started with 15 cities in 2012 including Raleigh.

The purpose of Brigade is to create and sustain local instances of shared goals and strategic outcomes.

  • Governments leveraging technology more effectively
  • Citizens and community groups solving civic issues
  • Cities collaborating to work better
  • Civic apps built on linked, open data

The targeted outcome is to establish or reinforce a local citizen group for civic tech that interacts with municipal government on a regular basis.

Code for America Raleigh Brigade

Code for Raleigh formed in 2012, and has Captains Chad Foley, Jason Hibbets, Jason Horne and Reid Serozi. The Raleigh Brigade runs the very successful CityCamp program for several years with the latest CityCamp NC held in May.  The Raleigh Brigade also supports the adoption of the Triangle Wiki project.  In the Brigade meetings, the group is working on an Adopt-a-Shelter app for bus shelters in Raleigh.

Our Brigade is participating in the Code for America Race for Reuse campaign, however the City of Raleigh didn’t ask us to do this. As citizens, we saw an opportunity to improve our city and implement a technology front-end to an existing program offered by the city. It wasn’t just about deploying a project, it was about making our city and the citizen experience a little bit better. By forming and organizing our Brigade, we’re helping to advance the open government movement. – Jason Hibbets, Brigade Captain.

Code for America Cary Brigade

Code for Cary formed in early 2013, and has Captains Robert Campbell and Ian Henshaw. The Cary Brigade ran the successful Cary Open Data Day in February and is planning Triangle Open Data Day for February, 2014.  In the Brigade meetings, the group is working on a visualization of development data in the Town of Cary.

Code for America is a great way to engage our citizens who have a technical background. By using their techie skills, they can get involved in some interesting web projects or apps and in doing so will learn more about the Town and may find other ways to also get involved with other civic projects. I am very happy that Code for Cary has been accepted as an official Brigade since this will bring added visibility and credibility to our efforts to help the Town of Cary – Ian Henshaw, Brigade Captain.

Code for America Durham Brigade

Code for Durham is newly formed in 2013, and has Captains Colin Copeland and Andrew Krzmarzick.

For several months, we have been meeting with key stakeholders from Durham City and County, the nonprofit sector as well as entrepreneurs and software developers interested in leveraging open data for the benefit of our community. This acknowledgement by Code for America as part of the regional Triangle Brigade is another important milestone that is sure to vault Durham and the Triangle to the forefront of the global open government movement – Andrew Krzmarzick, Brigade Captain.

Code for America Triangle Brigade

Due to the nature of the Technology ecosystem in the Triangle Area, the Raleigh, Cary and Durham Brigades are working together to develop a Triangle-wide Brigade (or Division?). Each City will have their own Brigade working closely with their municipal governments on projects important to the Town or City, but there is also a need to assist with Regional issues that are important to all of the Towns, Cities and Counties in the Triangle Area.

The Brigades in the Triangle want to support additional brigades in Triangle municipalities, so if you are from Apex, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Morrisville, Wake Forest, etc. and you want to form your own brigade, please contact any of the Brigade Captains listed above.  Anyone outside the Triangle that wants to start a Brigade, feel free to contact us as well (Hey you in the Triad, Charlotte, Wilmington, Greenville, Fayetteville, Jacksonville, etc. – contact us).

There is a Triangle Code for America Meetup Group that lists all of the meetings of the Raleigh, Cary and Durham Brigades as well as the newly forming Triangle Division.  Please come to a meeting and find out how you can become involved.

 

CORRECTION: We originally reported the introduction of  the numbers of Brigades (should be 16 in 2012) using the numbers for the introduction of Fellowship cities (3 cities in 2011 and an additional 8 cities in 2012).

 

Code for America Cary Logo

A Look Inside: Code for America Cary

Cary, NC – What is civic hacking for social good? Who or what is Code for America?

Lets take a look at what is going on with the Code for America Cary Brigade and maybe you will find out. (Full disclosure, I am an organizer and member of the Cary Brigade)

The Cary Brigade formed in May 2013 as a development of the Cary Technology Task Force, the subsequently formed Technology Tank, the first Cary Open Data Day and the support of the vibrant Raleigh Brigade of Code for America. The Cary Brigade has decided to start with visualizing commercial permit data in the town of Cary.

Code for America aims to improve the relationships between citizens and government. We help governments restructure to create low-risk settings for innovation, engage citizens to create better services, and support ongoing competition in the govtech marketplace.

Tuesday, July 23 was the third meeting of the brigade (we meet monthly). On May 24, 2013 we received commercial permit data files from Cary in response to a public records request from member Robert Campbell. We received 9 data files most likely from a relational database.

At our June meeting, the Google AppEngine was discussed as a way to develop the ‘back-end’ of the application. The first issue we encountered was that the file with the property locations had all of the geo-locations zeroed out, so an effort was made to geolocate all of the 79,000+ records (with a method that still has not been disclosed…) Since then, there were 2 different efforts to house and use this geocoded information:

Socrata

With the help of Reid Serozi, just hired by Socrata, The Cary Brigade was offered a Socrata Community Data Platform.  Here is what we were able to do in an hour with the Socrata platform:

Property Data set on Socrata

Property Data set on Socrata

Socrata Visualization - Heat Map of Cary Property Data

Socrata Visualization – Heat Map of Cary Property Data

Socrata Visualization - Point Map of Cary Property Data

Socrata Visualization – Point Map of Cary Property Data

During the meeting, Reid showed us how the point map could be accessed and displayed on his smart phone.

Parse.com

Brandon Smith took another route and used Parse as his data repository and with some awesome code was able to provide a simulated app from the data (we did not ask how long this took…):

Parse data file

Parse data file

Brandon Smith simulated app - Properties nearest to my Location

Brandon Smith simulated app – Properties nearest to my Location

Brandon Smith simulated app - Properties in my Neighborhood

Brandon Smith simulated app – Properties in my Neighborhood

Where do we go from here?

There is more investigation into the data, as we are not sure that we have the information that would allow the app to answer a compelling question. More data scrubbing, another public data request(?) and more investigation into the front-end display of the information.

If you are interested, please join us. You can contact Ian Henshaw for more information.

Research Triangle Region Logo

Tech Meetup Groups in the Triangle

Cary, NC – Here is a listing of Tech Meetup groups in the Triangle Area. It seems that if you are interested in a language or Tech topic, there is a Meetup group for that. Hover over the links to see a brief blurb about what the group does.

I have attempted to categorize the groups. Please feel free to comment if you think that I have made an error or have missed a group.  Thank you in advance!

Agile

Analytics

Android

API

Apps

Cryptography

Hackers

Hardware

iOS/Mac

Languages / Platforms

Open Data

Miscellaneous

Security

Startups

SEO / Web Design

Tech

Tech for Women

Video

WordPress

User Experience (UX)

National Day of Civic Hacking logo

Triangle Joins National Civic Hacking Day

Press Release Published on 5/21/2013 at: CityCamp NC

HUB Raleigh, Rally Dev, Technology Tank, Code for Raleigh, and Triangle Wiki have joined forces to host a regional civic hackathon. Following two days of collaboration at CityCamp North Carolina and a successful start to NC Datapalooza in April, citizens and developers are invited to join in the local event on Saturday, June 1 celebrating a nationwide movement for more open government and finding new ways to use open data.

“This is an opportunity for the Triangle to participate in a nationwide civic event and practice regional collaboration,” said organizer Jason Hibbets, co-chair of CityCamp NC, an organizer for NC Datapalooza and co-captain for Raleigh’s Code for America Brigade. “Our ideas will only be limited by those who attend the civic day of hacking.”

NC Datajam teams are working on projects focused on health, education, and green energy. Teams that form at the CityCamp NC unconference are invited to continue their work at the civic hacking day.

Code for Raleigh, a Code for America brigade hosted in Raleigh, is providing an opportunity for Ruby on Rails developers to improve the Raleigh Adopt-a-Shelter application. Triangle Wiki is hosting a content sprint to update wiki pages and create new information about local knowledge.

The doors at HUB Raleigh will be open for any citizen to join the efforts of existing teams of attend to learn more about open data, open government, and how they can get involved.

Details
When: June 1, 2013 9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: HUB Raleigh, 711 Hillsborough St, Suite 230, Raleigh, NC 27603
Who: NC Datajam teams, CityCamp NC teams, Triangle Wiki contributors, Cary Open Data team, and anyone interesting in civic hacking or learning about civic hacking
Register now:
http://forms.rallydev.com/Q213-NDoCH-Raleigh-060113-RegPage

More information
http://hackforchange.org/citycamp-nc-2013

Code for America Brigade logo

Cary Forms a Code for America Brigade

Cary, NC – The Code for America civic movement started in Raleigh and is rapidly spreading through the Triangle. There is strength in numbers and we all feel that the issues we want to solve, we want to solve on a regional basis. A state wide basis would be even better.

Cary Brigade Meeting

Cary’s brigade has started with finding several volunteers to be Brigade Captains. The Cary Brigade will hold a kick-off meeting on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 starting at 7:00 PM (EST) in Cary. The information is loaded in the Triangle Code for America Meetup Site. Register and join the Cary Code for America Brigade.

What is next for the Triangle?

Durham and Morrisville are also in the process of forming Brigades. The plan may be to form a Code for America Division for the Triangle, something that does not yet exist in the Code for America structure.  The Triangle Region would then apply to be a Code for America City in 2015 with support from the municipalities of the Triangle.

If this sounds cool, then join the Brigade in your Town or City, or help to form one.

Pictures: Cary Open Data Day

cary-open-data-day-1

Story and photos by Hal Goodtree. First published on CaryCitizen.

Cary, NC – It was a rainy Saturday in Cary. Perfect time to learn about Open Data and write some code.

Cary Open Data Day

About 70 people showed up for Open Data Day on February 23, 2013 at the Cary Chamber. Town of Cary IT provided Wi-Fi and technical support (thanks Bill and Wilson).

Jason Hare, Open Data Program Manager for Raleigh gave the keynote. He educated the crowd (me, at least) about the Open Knowledge FoundationOpen Data Institute and the principles of Open Data.

“Transparent government. Not transparent citizens.” – Jason Hare, Cary Open Data Day

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Jason also emphasized the goal of regionalism for open data in the Triangle. That is, municipalities need to adopt similar rules and standards so data can be easily complied for the entire region.

Hacking and Workshops

After the keynote, council member Lori Bush fired up the crowd and solicited ideas for data projects to hack. The group had half a dozen data sets provided by Town of Cary, plus all the open data available on the internet (for example, maps). The group also pitched ideas for data sets they’d like to see made available for future projects.

open-data-day-cary-ideas

Crime data was a topic of high interest, as well as data about government spending.

The crowd broke up into smaller groups scattered around the Chamber to work on specific projects. The goal was to have a model up and working by the end of the day.

open-data-day-cary-0202

Throughout the day, workshops popped up in the conference room or the board room. Topics included privacy, Code for AmericaTriangle WikiGithubOpenSpending.orgdata journalism and more.

open-data-day-cary-0099

After a full day of hacking and learning, eight groups presented working open data websites to the conference. Crime “heat maps” were popular.

cary-open-data-map-1

Organizers Ian Cillay and Ian Henshaw of TechnologyTank raffled off a Samsung Chrome Book, won by a PhD student from NC State.

open-data-day-cary-0215

It was an auspicious beginning to Cary as a community tech hub. Open Data Day is a sure-thing to return to Cary next year.

More Pictures

In the spirit of Open Data Day, the entire set of 42 pictures is available on Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

Technology Tank Fellow Ian Cillay (left) discusses Open Data with Jason Hare, Open Data Program Manager for the City of Raleigh (right)

Talking Open Data

Cary NC – Last night, Technology Tank Fellow Ian Cillay and myself met with Jason Hare, the Open Data Program Manager for the City of Raleigh to discuss Open Data and the upcoming Cary Open Data Day.  Jason will be a speaker at Cary Open Data Day.

There were quite a lot of interesting things discussed at the meeting about Open Data:

  • Jason may be one of the only people in the US with the title of ‘Open Data’ anything!
  • Open Data, Open Source and Open Government all mean different things.
  • Europe has privacy policies much stricter that the US and they don’t see why we cannot get control of information with personal identifying information.  Maybe the many overlapping jurisdictions in the US all having different laws on the privacy issue for one thing?
  • There needs to be a common structure as municipalities create Open Data structures to allow apps to work as people move from Municipality to municipality. Just think if the electrical charging connections for electric cars were different in every city; no one would make electric cars…
  • The City of Raleigh has taken over support of the Raleigh Greenway App using City of Raleigh resources – data sets.  The Greenway App was originally developed out of a 3-day Raleigh CityCamp.  Raleigh has decided to be the authoritative source of this important information tool.

Jason was very complimentary about the report of the Cary Technology Task Force, and has read the 239 page report (pdf) to the Cary Town Council.  The report was described to Jason as a ‘suggestion’ of what the Cary citizens want from the Town in the way of Technology interaction.  Jason feels that the Town of Cary received quite a jewel with the report.

Raleigh started their Open Data efforts with a 5 sentence directive, and Jason has been working with citizen groups, City staff and Internet governing bodies to define the policies and practices necessary to make Open Data possible for Raleigh.  Raleigh is pursuing Open Data as an economic development tool.  If large amounts of data become easily available (without the personal identifying information which would lead to privacy concern issues) then entrepreneurs will move in to make the data available in many useful ways.  Successful businesses will bring economic vitality and increased tax revenues for the City.

Raleigh is looking at Open Data as a necessary City infrastructure, much like streets, street lighting, fire hydrants, etc.  Not a bad way to look at something that we all own.

A Raleigh Code for America Brigade will be coming to Cary Open Data Day to assist with the nascent Open Data efforts in Cary.  Make sure you register for Cary Open Data Day so you can learn more and participate.