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How Libya’s Election Process is Better than the United States’s

Carrboro, NC – Libya’s efforts to establish a stable democracy have been marred by violence and the constant threat of government collapse since the ouster of General Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Despite the seemingly endless news about the country’s political chaos, Libya accomplished something the United States could not with healthcare.gov: the successful and smooth launch of a new technology platform.

Libya implemented a national voter registration by text messaging program that registered 1.5 million voters for June 25th’s elections. It is the first system of its kind in the world. Over 6 million text messages were sent to and from the system. What’s surprising is that nothing went wrong. An even more astonishing fact? It was an American firm, NC based Caktus Group, that developed the technology. Caktus developers created the technology in less than six months and for a fraction of the cost of healthcare.gov.

Libya SMS Voter Registration by Caktus Group
“The beauty of what we do as open source developers is that we can move very very quickly,” says Tobias McNulty, Caktus CEO. “Behind our team of four developers was the open source community, a global network of developers.”

Caktus developers, working closely with the Libyan government, a data security firm, a cellular network integrator, and well known technologist, Elliott Wilkes, and Middle East expert, Hunter Price, created a system that allowed voters and poll workers to register within seconds from any location in Libya, including their own homes. Registrants texted their national ID number and the code of their preferred voting location, then received a text confirmation.

During the pivotal June 25th elections widely considered to be Libya’s tipping point, Caktus staff were in Libya, making sure the voter registration system was again working smoothly. The voter registration databases were essential to how poll workers determined whether those that showed up could vote. Any hiccup in the system would be tantamount to disenfranchisement. News of violence dominated media coverage of the election, but this one aspect of the electoral process went off without a hitch.

“We were deeply aware of the responsibility we had to Libyan voters,” said McNulty, “We constantly tested the system at each step, including the capacity to handle hundreds of thousands of simultaneous text messages. Even the smallest amount of code was raked over the coals.”

Libya continues to face many incredible challenges as a doubtful world watches on. But amongst the seemingly unending bad news, there is at least one bright spot even the US cannot claim: you can text message your voter registration while drinking a cup of coffee.


Article and picture contributed by Caktus Group. Caktus began in 2007 in Carrboro’s Creative Co-working space. It has since grown to the point that they have purchased and are currently refurbishing a building in downtown Durham.

WorkShift:2014 August 16, 2014

CoWorking Conference Comes to Durham

Durham, NC – Robert Petrusz, Founder and Manager of Bull City CoWorking attended the 4th annual Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in Kansas City at the beginning of May. Robert met lots of great contacts in the coworking field and discussed many topics vital to the coworking movement.

SONY DSCOne thing Robert wanted to do is to bring a coworking event to the South East US so that the coworking operators and people interested in coworking who could not attend the GCUC would be able to benefit from the learning and networking afforded by this conference. So Robert created a regional coworking conference to be held in Durham on Saturday, August 16, 2014 – WorkShift:2014.

WorkShift:2014 Details

An unconference for people who own, operate or work in a coworking space!

  • WorkShift:2014 – “The First Coworking Conference in the SouthEast”
  • PSI Theater, Durham Arts Council Building, 120 Morris Street, Durham, NC 27701
  • Saturday, August 16, 2014 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (EDT)
  • WorkShift:2014 Website
  • WorkShift:2014 Registration Site

Why Attend WorkShift:2014?

  • Hear from 2 renowned speakers on coworking, Alex Hillman, community-oriented shared workspace thought-leader and Co-founder of IndyHall in Philadelphia, PA and Chad Ballantyne, Owner of Rhubarb Media and Founder of The Creative Space in Ontario, Canada
  • Meet many of the coworking space operators in the Southeast.
  • Connect with many creative people who find coworking to be a great way to work.
  • Find out if coworking is for you.

Disclosure: Oakhaven CoWorking, a project of Technology Tank, is a sponsor of WorkShift:2014

Picture from the WorkShift:2014 Website

Fiber Optic Vortex by Jared Zammit

Upcoming Tech Events – June ’14 Edition

Cary, NC – Here is a quick summary of Technology events coming up in the next few months. Let us know what you think of the events and also let us know if we have missed any.

Quick Links

NCTech4Good Conference June 5-6, 2014 in Chapel Hill. The NCTech4Good Conference will be held June 6, 2014, at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill. It will be preceded by a workshop on Thursday, June 5. Beth Kanter is the workshop leader and keynote speaker. The NCT4G conference is designed to serve nonprofit professionals, volunteers, consultants, and small business owners. This two-day conference focuses on technologies in areas such as fundraising, social media, and communication and advocacy tools, offering both pre-selected presentations and workshops, as well as spontaneous sessions created by participants.

Maker Faire North Carolina – Saturday, June 7, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. Maker Faire North Carolina is a celebration of all things made. Get inspired at North Carolina’s largest celebration of DIY culture and innovation!

Code for Charlotte Hack-a-thon – Saturday, June 7, 2014 from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM (EDT) in Charlotte, NC. “The Best Hack-a-thon Ever”. The day we’ve been waiting for. Clear your calendar – It’s going down! Code for Charlotte Brigade is having it’s first Hack-a-thon and you’re invited.

Charlotte Data Day – June 17, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 3:30 PM (EDT) in Charlotte, NC. The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, in partnership with the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, present the second annual Charlotte Data Day, which will explore the state of housing in Charlotte through local and national data sources.

ProductCamp CLT – June 21, 2014 from 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM in Charlotte, NC. ProductCamp is a free, one-day conference for anyone interested in designing, building, launching and marketing great products. It’s collaborative and participant-driven. That means no set agenda and no sales pitches; just a great opportunity to interact with the region’s best and brightest on product strategy.

Data Matters Data Science Summer Workshop Series – June 23-27 in Chapel Hill, NC. Are you: A manager who needs to know how to stay afloat in the data deluge? A data analytics specialist grappling with large data sets? A data center administrator in the private or public sector? A researcher who must manage, share and archive large, complicated data sets? An entrepreneur, student, researcher, scholar, or employee determined to make the most of the data revolution? If so, the Data Matters Data Science Summer Workshop Series is for you.

Triangle Startup Weekend: Education – Friday, July 18, 2014 at 6:00 PM – Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 9:00 PM (EDT) in Raleigh, NC. Have you ever had an idea for improving education? Here’s your opportunity to transform your education ideas into action in 54 hours. Find the right people with complimentary skills & the passion & dedication to build a startup quick & smart. Test your idea with real potential customers, receive coaching from experienced education entrepreneurs & industry professionals, and win prizes that will help you take your startup idea to the next level of execution!

Startup & Play: Main Event – Thursday, July 24th at 6:00pm in Durham. More details to follow

Triangle Startup Weekend: Health – August 8th-10th in Durham, NC. All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model: anyone is welcome to pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams organically form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote) and then it’s a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback.

Cryptolina – August 15-16, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. “The defining Bitcoin event for the Carolinas.” Cryptolina is the Carolinas first event bringing together Bitcoin entrepreneurs, financial professionals, venture capital and angel investors, enthusiasts and others who are looking to network, learn and discuss the emerging cryptocurrency industry.

NCDevCon 2014 – North Carolina’s Premier Web Conference – Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 8:00 AM – Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 3:30 PM (EDT) in Raleigh, NC. NCDevCon is a 2 day web and mobile development conference in Raleigh, NC. For $200 you get access to all sessions and hands on classes. Your conference fee also includes lunch, a snazzy conference T-Shirt and admission to our evening networking event. Learn more at ncdevcon.com

CED Tech Venture Conference: The Internet of (Every)thing – September 16-17, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. You’re invited to this year’s CED Tech Venture Conference, to be held September 16-17, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. Join 600 of the region’s most promising early-stage and high-growth companies, leading investors, and tech enthusiasts as we explore how the ubiquitous “Internet of Things” paradigm is increasingly blurring the lines between the physical and digital worlds.

Triangle InfoSeCon 2014 – October 16, 2014 from 8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. (EST) in Raleigh, NC. The Raleigh ISSA Chapter fall conference is a great opportunity to learn more about information security, talk with companies who provide security products and services, and network with fellow information security professionals. We submit CPE Credits automatically for attendees who provide their CISSP certification information. Registration Site

BSIDES – October 17, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. Security B-sides (BSides) is a community-driven framework for building events for and by information security community members. The goal is to expand the spectrum of conversation beyond the traditional confines of space and time. It creates opportunities for individuals to both present and participate in an intimate atmosphere that encourages collaboration. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from participants. It is where conversations for the next-big-thing are happening.

Southeast SAS Users Group Conference – October 19 – 21, 2014 in Myrtle Beach, SC.

All Things Open – October 22-23, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. A Conference Exploring Open Source, Open Tech and the Open Web.

Internet Summit 2014 – November 11-13, 2014 in Raleigh, NC. More information to follow.


Picture – Fiber Optic Vortex by Jared Zammit

Code for America Logo

Code for America in NC

Research Triangle, NC –

What is Code for America?

Code for America is a 501(c)3 non-profit that envisions a government by the people, for the people, that works in the 21st century.

Our programs change how we participate in government by:

  • connecting citizens and governments to design better services,
  • encouraging low-risk settings for innovation; and,
  • supporting a competitive civic tech marketplace.

Code for America in NC

In 2014, NC will have a large percentage of the Code for America activities in the US.

NC Cities with a Code for America Fellowship Program

NC Cities with Code for America Brigades 

What is a Code for America Fellowship?

The Fellowship is Code for America’s best known program and consists of a one year residency placing developers, designers and researchers within local governments. Over the course of the program, fellows and government partners build apps, inspire new thinking amongst public servants and tackle some of our country’s toughest problems.

What is a Code for America Brigade?

The Brigade network is an ongoing effort to deploy, maintain and sustain civic technology and open data infrastructures. Each Brigade is comprised of local volunteers and government employees who connect for regular hack nights, discussions and app development.

Brigade Projects in the Triangle

  • The Raleigh Brigade was one of 15 inaugural Code for America Brigades in 2012. The Raleigh Brigade participated in the Code for America ‘Race for Reuse’ campaign and developed and deployed the Adopt-a-Shelter app for Raleigh. The Raleigh Brigade sponsors Triangle Wiki and CityCamp NC
  • The Cary Brigade formed in 2013 and is currently working on an app to visualize development data in Cary. The Cary Brigade sponsors Triangle Open Data Day
  • The Durham Brigade formed in 2013 and is currently working on a Durham Restaurant app. The Durham Brigade is working with the City of Durham and Durham County to adopt a joint Open Data Policy
  • In December 2013 the Triangle Brigades cooperated in an event to assist Raleigh with their Open Data Portal

Code for America - Joint meeting to assist Open Raleigh

How Do I Get Involved?

Code for America is an open group and all can join. We need a diverse voice to be effective. Please join your local Meetup Group:

If you don’t live in any of these areas, please contact Ian Henshaw, Brigade Captain for Code for Cary and Managing Partner of Tech Tank, and he will get you connected!

Previous Tech Tank Articles on Code for America

Picture by Reid Serozi

Dart Language Logo

Dart Flight School in the Triangle

Research Triangle, NC – Local developer Luke Dary and the Google Developer Group in Research Triangle (GDG Research Triangle) are working with the American Underground to bring the Dart Flight School to the Triangle. On February 8, There will be simultaneous classes at the Main and new Raleigh locations of the American Underground.

What is Dart?

The Dart Language is a new class-based and object-oriented platform for scalable web app engineering. Dart is an open-source project with contributors from Google and elsewhere and includes many tools and libraries to help with the development process. Compiling using Angular Java Script will produce Dart web apps that will run in all modern browsers.

What is Dart Flight School?

Dart Flight Schools are community events run by Google Developer Groups to help developers learn Dart and Angular. Dart Flight Schools can be different in each location based on the organizers, local skill sets and interests. There can be tech talks, code labs or even mini-hackathons. As we get closer to the date, we will see what GDG Research Triangle has finalized as an agenda for the Triangle Dart Flight School.

Dart Flight School Details

  • When: Saturday, February 8, 2014 from 1-5pm
  • Durham: American Underground @ Main, 201 W Main St., Durham, NC 27701 // Durham Registration
  • Raleigh: American Underground @ Raleigh, 213 Fayetteville St. , Raleigh, NC 27601 // Raleigh Registration

Learn Dart and Angular, Get Your Web Development Wings

Sign up for only one of the sessions. The Raleigh location can hold ~20-30 people and the Durham facility can hold ~80 people. Resources for the Dart Flight School can be found on the Dart Website.  Also the GDG Research Triangle will be publishing more details and may conduct some preliminary activities at their normal meet-ups.

If you attend, please let us know what you think of Dart, Angular and the Dart Flight School.

The Center for Digital Government Logo

NC Cities 2013 Rank in Digital Cities

Raleigh, NC –

The top digital cities are leaders in open data and transparency efforts, as well as innovators in deploying mobile applications to citizens while conforming to fiscal standards.

The Center for Digital Government‘s Digital Cities Survey is conducted annually in the summer: July – August. All United States cities, towns, villages and consolidated city/county governments with populations of 30,000 or greater are invited to participate in this survey. The awards are presented concurrently with the NLC [National League of Cities] conference held each November.

Congratulations to the 2013 Digital Cities Survey Winners!

250,000 or more population category:

125,000 – 249,999 population category:

Selected Survey Findings -Top 10 Overall Priorities:

  1. Open Government/ Transparency/ Open Data
  2. Mobility / Mobile Applications
  3. Budget and Cost Control
  4. Hire and Retain Competent IT Personnel
  5. Broadband and Connectivity and Portal/ E-government
  6. Cyber Security
  7. Shared Services
  8. Cloud Computing
  9. Disaster Recovery/ Continuity of Operations
  10. Virtualization: Server, Desktop/ Client, Storage, Applications

Related posts:

NC Counties 2013 Rank in Digital Counties

Durham County Logo

Durham Discusses Open Data

Durham, NC – At the November 4, 2013 work session of the Durham County Commissioners, Deputy County Manager Lee Worsley and CIO Greg Marrow gave a  presentation on Open Data.  Durham City and Durham County have been collaborating on understanding Open Data since April of this year.

In his comments at the beginning of the meeting, Andy Krzmarzick told how he approached Deputy County Manager Lee Worsley with a vision of Durham being recognized as an innovation leader by opening data sets. The idea took hold and now Durham has their own Code for America Brigade including more than 50 individuals, entrepreneurs and City and County leaders.

In their presentation Open Data / Government, An Introduction, Lee Worsley and Greg Marrow pointed out how Open Data fits into item 5 of the current County Strategic Plan; “Accountable, Efficient and Visionary Government”.

The proposal for Open Data is that Durham City and Durham County form a partnership, adopt a common Open Data Policy and create a single portal for access to both City & County data.  With the unique situation that the City and County share basically the same geographic boundaries, this makes tremendous sense.

The presentation was well received by the commissioners based on the comments following the presentation. We look forward to Durham adopting an Open Data policy and adding many data sets and additional vibrancy to the Open Data ecosystem in the Triangle.

The video and audio of pertinent parts of the meeting can be found at the following links:

Recent articles about Open Data in the Triangle:

Triangle Open Data Day has been announced for February 22-23, 2014. Details can be found on the Triangle Open Data Day Website.

Google Glass photo

Glass Under Pressure

Durham, NC – If you missed the hype about Google Glass coming to Durham, you either are living under a rock, or are not involved in the Triangle Technology Ecosystem. 3,500 people sold-out the event in about 24 hours. Much of what you have read in the press about Google Glass has been developed during private invitation only sessions (many links can be found at the end of this article). As the Technology writer for Cary Citizen, I wanted to witness the Google Glass experience through the crush of people at the Durham event.

Logistics

The event was scheduled from 10 AM to 6 PM at Bay 7 of the American Tobacco Campus. 3,500 people in 8 hours means that the event needed to be set-up for handling 437 people per hour or just over 7 each minute! I was concerned about excessive waits as I was seeing pictures on various social media showing long lines and then about 1 PM I saw the following Tweet from @AmerUnderground

Three hours in and the line keeps growing! #durhamthroughglass #durm pic.twitter.com/AJ3D4Bj50g

2013-10-05 14.51.03

I showed up just before 3pm and the line went just past Bay 9 (shorter than I had seen in pictures). I then found out how well organized the event was. As I arrived in line, we were given a card showing the basics of operation of Google Glass. We were also told that the wait would be 35- 40 minutes (my wait was 32 minutes) and were provided iced water as we waited (thankfully due to the 92F temperature). Inside the event was very well organized; registration went quickly and we were grouped to first have a demonstration of Google Glass, and then moved to another area where we could personally try out Google Glass. Afterwards, we were provided wonderful refreshments by Angus Barn, as we waited for our picture wearing Glass, provided a poster (we now had 3 souvenirs of the day) and the option to give feedback (on a new Chromebook Pixel via Google Docs).  In total it took me about 2 hours.

A well organized Google Glass event in Bay 7.

My Glass Experience

The demo was not going so well. Monty and Jim were giving us a demonstration where we should be able to watch simulcast on a tablet, but the Wi-Fi was overloaded and we were not being able to see what we were told was happening. Many excuses about connectivity problems and the overloaded Wi-Fi. In the loud room, Glass was having trouble understanding verbal commands and the user was basically unable to hear from the device.

Quick look around while in-line for picture at the Durham Google Glass Event - Everyone on their smart phones.

Quick look around while in-line for picture at the Durham Google Glass Event – Everyone on their smart phones! How much Wi-Fi and cell service do you need?

We were now able to try Glass. In the the RSVP confirmation we were told:

Leave your Glasses behind: If you wear glasses or contacts, please put contacts in for the event. If you only wear glasses we’ll do our best to fit Glass over your frames, but your experience will be much better with contacts.

Now I have worn glasses since 5th grade and had given up wearing contacts over 15 years ago. Based on the above suggestion I tried without my glasses (thinking that something close to the eye would be easily visible) but this turned out to be nearly impossible as the image is projected at infinity so it was very fuzzy. I also could not get Glass to be able to find directions to anywhere (which apparently resulted from the device not being synced to GPS due to the Wi-Fi overload or other issue)

My Glass Experience, Part 2

My Cary Citizen Press Credentials were seen by the event promoters, and I was quickly introduced to Devin Buell from Google (Devin was working at the Google Chapel Hill office until he recently joined the Glass team) and given a different Glass that had connectivity. This time I tried the Glass over my glasses and what a difference! I could see the screen clearly (Note to those wearing glasses – definitely use Glass over your glasses).  After a few tries, Glass finally understood where I wanted to go and gave me directions (remember the room was really noisy).  I fumbled through a few navigation steps, but was able to see the promise of this very cool technology.  I was glad to have the press credentials that gave me a second try to be able to evaluate Glass through a few paces.  (I’ll probably follow up with another article about my specific observations and things I have thought of since the demonstration.)

Privacy Invasion with Glass?

There has been much written about invasion of privacy with Google Glass, but after seeing Glass in use, these fears seem to be overblown. The Battery life was given by one of the presenters as 45 minutes watching video, but could ‘last all day’ under normal use (which is normally not on). People wearing Glass have to make obvious gestures on the side of the unit and need to make very clear verbal instructions for the Glass to go through its paces. With the ability of all new cell phones to be recording devices, Glass seems to be a very clumsy and obvious way of invading your privacy.

My Takeaways

Google Glass was clearly playing to their potential early adopter customer base at this event. My estimate is that the average age of attendees was ~35 years old and a smart phone owner. No one seemed to mind the line waits and a ~2 hour experience to get their hands on Glass for maybe 5-10 minutes. The event was very well managed and everyone had the chance to try Glass and even more importantly get their picture taken wearing Glass. Social media was chock full of people sharing their experience, so Google got a huge bang for their buck from hosting this event. I would be interested to see the results of feedback from such a pro-Glass audience and if this is really an indicator of support from the general population.

131005 Ian aI think that Glass provides an interesting presentation of information – kind of like being able to check your rear-view mirror while you are driving. Glass seems to be a good complementary device to your desktop, tablet and smartphone, but would not replace any of these at this point. I’m intrigued and would like to be able to evaluate Glass for a longer time and I look forward to see how Glass continues to develop as part of Google X.

What Was Your Experience?

Did you go to the Google Glass event in Durham? We would be interested in your experience.  Please comment below or E-mail me about your experience with Glass.

News Articles About Glass:

DevFestNC 2013 – Día de los Datos (Day of the Data)

DevFestNC 2013 – Nov 2nd

Durham, NC – Join the Research Triangle Google Developer Group (GDG) for their inaugural DevFestNC. DevFestNC 2013 – Día de los Datos (Day of the Data) – is happening November 2, 2013.

We are focusing on providing a day for local developers to share knowledge, projects, and products that utilize the vast amount of data available today. GDG meetings are focused on Google technologies, but the conference is open to anything local developers might be working on (web, mobile, server-side, etc.) regardless of the vendor.

Schedule:

  • 9:00 A.M. to lunch – Sessions
  • After lunch until closing time – Sessions and Hackfair

Tickets are available for $25 and include Lunch and all-day snacks.

There are still slots available for session speakers and project showcases if you, or someone you know, has a presentation they would like to give; just fill out the Speaker Application or contact Luke Dary.

DevFestNC 2013 will be held at the Solution Center located at 1101 Slater Rd, Durham, NC 27703.

If you go, please let us know about your DevFestNC 2013 experience.

Research Triangle Region Logo

Raleigh/Durham Up and Coming City for Entrepreneurs

Research Triangle, NC – On September 25, Patrick Hull wrote in Forbes.com: “Here is my list of 10 up and coming cities for entrepreneurs:”

  • Raleigh/Durham
  • Austin
  • Singapore
  • Bangalore
  • Sao Paulo
  • Kiev
  • Moscow
  • Richmond
  • Santiago
  • Sydney

Raleigh/Durham was listed first, but there was no formal ranking. We can infer what we want from this placement…

The list has several great international cities, so Raleigh/Durham is in good company. This article is worth a quick read.