Nina Hole's Fire Sculpture Cary NC 9224 from Flickr by bobistraveling

What is Art and How to Find It?

Cary, NC – The Code for Cary Brigade has started working with the Town of Cary Cultural Arts Department and the Cary Visual Art organization (CVA) to look at redeploying the Code for America Public Art Finder App.

Code fro America Public Art Finder AppAt the brigade meeting on February 10th, Denise Dickens, Public Art Coordinator for the Town of Cary and Shawnee Becker of CVA presented what was available in terms of information and existing on-line maps of public art in the Town. We then had a great discussion about what functionality the app should have. The delineation is that Code for Cary can provide an app and functionality but the Town/CVA needs to provide the content.

App Specification Creep?

An interesting part of the discussions were about what users of this app would expect to be able to discover with the app. The Town of Cary has a definition of public art to clarify scope of their activity but art sited before the Town’s Public Arts program started are not part of the town’s catalog.

Should the mural on the side of the Sorrell building be included? What about where art links to the history of the town, like the horse sculpture at SearStone? What about interesting architecture, folk art and historical sites? This is a slippery slope of specification to be sure!
Val Fox Mural from

What Would You Expect as a User?

This is a very important question to ask in the development of any app, the market analysis, or as Steve Blank would say, “Get Out of the Building” and talk to your customers!

Here are some of the ideas we discussed. Feel free to add some of your own:

  • Only public art as defined by the Town
  • All public art, publicly or privately owned
  • Interesting or classic architecture
  • Folk art
  • Historical sites
  • Ability to ask for an item to be added to the app
  • Ability to engage in discussion about the art (ie. a forum)

Leave your ideas in the comments below this article.

Join the Public Art Finder App Team

If you want to help out with this new and exciting project, please attend any of the upcoming Code for Cary meetings. Code for Cary meets every other Tuesday night at the Cary Innovation Center in the 2nd floor conference room. All are welcome to attend and participate, you do not have to be a coder!

Approximately 30 minutes before the meetings pizza and beer is available courtesy of the generous support from the Code for America national organization. The brigade asks all attendees to sign up on their meetup group so sufficient food can be ordered in advance of the meetings.

Previous Articles on Code for Cary

Disclosure – Tech Tank supports the Code for Cary Brigade with space, leadership and logistical support

Nina Hole’s Fire Sculpture Cary NC 9224 from Flickr by bobistraveling

Val Fox Mural from Logo

Gov Tech For Winter Conditions

Raleigh, NC – As the state is suffering under wintry conditions it is a good time to review the available tech options to assist you. North Carolina has developed several web and mobile sites to aid in navigating winter conditions.

In addition to web and mobile apps, we know that a strong social media plan is not only important for daily two-way communication with citizens, but is a vital part of emergency planning and preparedness. In fact in Governor Pat McCrory’s press conference this morning, he mentioned that NC DOT Secretary Tony Tata had reported that social media had helped to get information quickly as to where the slick spots were across the state.

Real-time weather and road conditions and shelter openings, as well as winter safety tips, can be found on the free ReadyNC mobile app or on line at web site.

Travelers are urged to call 511 or go to for up to date roadway conditions. Motorists are reminded to only use 911 for emergencies so those lines are not overloaded with non-emergency calls.

Ready NC Website


The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Traveler Information Management System (TIMS) lets commuters check road and weather conditions in real-time from their computers and smartphones any time, anywhere. The goal of TIMS is to help drivers “know before you go.”

Previous Tech Tank Articles on NC Tech


TechTank Review – Cary Bike & Hike App

Cary, NC – On January 12, 2015, the Town of Cary released a new municipal mobile application, the Cary Bike & Hike App. Technology Tank undertook a survey to get user feedback on the new app. Read more

NC Digital Commons

NC “Mobile First” – Digital Front Door Project Series

Cary, NC – Cary, NC – This is the third article in our series of the new paradigm for redeveloping municipal websites. We will bring you stories of the innovative things people are doing in this space. This article is about the Digital Commons Project at the State of North Carolina.

NC Digital Commons Project and State Agency Websites are Getting a Facelift, Going Mobile

The state is working to improve its web presence, not just for, but for state agencies as well. We’re calling it the Digital Commons Project, with the goal of better customer service by improving user experience.

The Digital Commons Project provides cabinet agencies with the resources to have a modern, mobile-ready website that is better able to meet the needs of the citizen. For the first time, cabinet agencies are working together to provide predictable navigation, content that is easier to manage and that is better maintained, and a modern means to create and maintain websites. Websites will have robust functionality combined with a clean look and feel that functions on desktops, tablets and smartphones. A “mobile-first” approach will ensure websites work just as well on a small screen as on a large one. Designs will be consistent while allowing the flexibility for each agency site to have its own personality.

Why Mobile-First?

Many people in North Carolina do not have access to broadband or PC’s and for these people their smartphone is their access to the Internet. Designing for the smaller screen format first is important so all these people can access your content and interact with your websites. It is much easier to start small and add additional content for those with bigger screen sizes, than it is to try and shrink a website that was developed for the PC’s and have it be usable on a smartphone.

Brendan Morrisey, the CEO of Netsertive, recently presented the reality that mobile devices are currently outselling PC’s four to one, an impressive market penetration from their introduction in 2006. Brendan’s message is that you have to react to the innovations in the marketplace or you will be left behind. (Brendan’s presentation on innovation was given at the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting an Friday, January 30, 2015. There was a lot of great information in the presentation and we will try to bring some of that content to our readers soon.)

For both the reasons of lack of broadband and PC’s as well as the large scale adoption of mobile devices, “Mobile-first” is a smart strategy for the State of NC to be pursuing.

Check out the Digital Commons Project and see how you like it, also see if you like the process they are using to redesign their sites. If you find this interesting and useful, please talk to your elected officials to see if your Town or City can use a similar process for their website redesign.

Previous Tech Tank Articles in the Digital Front Door Series

Appy Hour - A DOit Apps Event - From Lenovo

Appy Hour – by Lenovo

Morrisville, NC – A new tech event has come to our attention: Appy Hour – A DOit Apps Event – by Lenovo. The event will be in a week on Wednesday, January 21, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, so don’t delay adding this to your calendar!

What is Appy Hour?

Tantalyzing technology. Incredible networking. Brilliant speakers. Tasty food. Amazing apps. And cold, craft beer on tap.

We’ve assembled a line-up of some of our region’s most brilliant scientists, developers and thinkers.

Get a taste for some of the coolest applications in the area.

The team of Erin Monday and Will Hardison will be the co-emcees for this event. If you have seen them at the RTP180 events, you will want to go for their performance alone!

Appy Hour Details

  • What? Appy Hour – A DOit Apps Event – by Lenovo
  • Where? Lenovo Building 8, 8001 Development Drive, Morrisville, NC 27560
  • When? Wednesday, January 21, 2015 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM (EST) [You’re invited to pop in and browse right after work (5:00-6:00)]
  • Why? Tantalyzing technology. Incredible networking. Brilliant speakers. Tasty food. Amazing apps. And cold, craft beer on tap.
  • Appy Hour Registration Site
Tech Tank: Looking for App Reviewers

Call for App Reviewers

Cary, NC – We are looking for a few volunteers to download a new municipal app, try it out and fill out a brief survey. Android and iPhone users…

Interested? E-mail Ian Henshaw

Photo by Christian Turkoanje – under CC BY-SA 3.0

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 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

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. Logo

NC Launches New App

Raleigh, NC – On January 17, 2014, a new mobile application was launched to help North Carolinians prepare for everything from minor traffic emergencies to severe storms on a daily basis. The app, ReadyNC, is free and available for iPhones and Android devices.

Ready NC App Screen ShotThe new app provides users with:

  • real-time traffic and weather information
  • critical information on how to be safe during different hazardous events
  • real-time information about opened shelters for evacuees (including addresses, capacity, directions and if the shelter is pet-friendly)
  • real-time updates on flood levels of major nearby creeks and rivers
  • phone numbers and links to all North Carolina power companies to report outages
  • basic instructions on how to develop emergency plans and what to put in your emergency supplies kit
  • real-time information on which counties have issued evacuation orders
  • contact numbers and links to websites for those who need help recovering from a disaster
  • direct links to the and websites [North Carolina Department of Public Safety] and social media accounts

The information that the ReadyNC app provides users is not new but has been available on the ReadyNC Website since 2006. With the rapid adoption of mobile devices, North Carolina has decided to provide the information in a form convenient to many citizens.

ReadyNC Website

In May 2006, in part due to the awareness caused by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, North Carolina kicked off a public awareness campaign aimed at getting people to take personal responsibility for themselves and their families in emergency situations. The campaign featured a new website – – that includes information on how to prepare for any type of emergency as well as information on what type of emergencies occur in North Carolina.

A Local Version of the ReadyNC Website

In August 2011 The N.C. League of Municipalities and the N.C. Association of County Commissioners announced the launch of, an emergency management preparedness website. This website is devoted to helping local governments in North Carolina prepare for and recover from disasters of any kind. It was hoped that would become a “one-stop shop” for information both before and after an emergency occurs.

A Caveat About the ReadyNC App

Be aware that the ReadyNC app does not provide the level of service of existing warning systems. In the Terms of Use of the ReadyNC App, there are the following statements:

  • The application does not replace calling 9-1-1 for emergencies.
  • It should not be used a s a substitute for a weather-alert radio during potentially life-threatening weather conditions, such as tornadoes.
  • NCDPS is not responsible if information that is made available on this app is not accurate, complete or current…

Not withstanding the above caveats, the ReadyNC app provides valuable information in a useful format. What do you think of this app? Would you download the app and use it?

Transloc Apps on an iPhone

TransLōc Releases New App

Raleigh, NC – TransLōc has released a rider-centric iOS app appropriately called Rider. Rider combines all bus agency routes into one screen that shows you the location of the closest bus stop and when the buses will arrive. The user can set alerts so that they will be notified when the bus is arriving at the stop. No more hanging out at the bus stop to make sure that you don’t miss the next bus, you can sit and enjoy your coffee

What is TransLōc?

TransLōc’s mission is to revolutionize transit for riders.

TransLōc was founded in 2004 to empower mass transit agencies and riders with the best possible location technology. We combine innovative hardware with easy-to-use products to answer the questions that matter most: Where’s my bus? And when will it arrive at my stop?

Why Release Rider?

TransLoc Rider App showing closest stop and bus arrival times

TransLōc Rider App showing closest stop and bus arrival times.

The new app gives a much better experience for the rider. With improvements in mobile technology TransLōc is able to build on these new platforms to provide an app that is 100% focused on the user.

TransLōc reports that the original app will be discontinued at some point in the future when the users have mostly migrated to the new app.

Rider is only available for the iOS platform at present, and TransLōc is working on releasing an Android version soon.

TransLōc Coverage in NC

The following Transit Systems in NC use TransLōc:

  • Capital Area Transit – Raleigh, NC
  • Cary Transit
  • Chapel Hill Transit
  • Duke University
  • Durham Area Transit
  • North Carolina State University
  • Triangle Transit – Research Triangle, NC

What Do You Think?

What do you think of the new app? (iOS users only right now…) With the increase in helpful information from this App would you be more likely to ride transit?

Previous Articles on TransLōc

NCDevCon 2013 Logo

Recap of NCDevCon2013

Raleigh, NC – Article contributed by Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana attended NCDevCon2013 and he gave us a summary of his experience:

The talks I attended were very good. The speakers were well versed with vast experience in their field. It was good to learn how others solve problems inside their own teams and companies. The presentations give you perspective and ideas on solving your own problems in a different way or just to validate that you see that you are doing it, in essence, in the same way.

The opening keynote was about Adobe ColdFusion (CF) which is the first time I heard about the product. I know I think I was the only one that didn’t know that NCDevCon history was about CF development, but I didn’t know because most the of the presentations on their website were about HTML 5, JavaScript, and mobile development.

Conference Sessions

Raymond Camden from Adobe gave a two hour workshop on PhoneGap. PhoneGap builds on the open source project Apache Cordova which I’m a contributor. He explained the basic concepts of developing a mobile web App and the ability to package it as a native App for smartphones. Raymond also explained some of the features provided by Adobe PhoneGap Build like remote builds and ability to have your App tested by others.

Adrian Pomilio lives here in North Carolina and is great developer, designer, and speaker. He talked about one of the topics I’m also currently working on “The JavaScript – the Stack”. He gave an overview on how JavaScript can be use on the back end server, command lines tools, and hardware hacking like NodeCopter. He went to explain some of the new JavaScript command line tools that help web developers build Apps faster and be more productive by staying on the same language to accomplish different tasks. Tools like Bower, GruntJS, Yeoman, and Johnny-Five allow developers to use JavaScript for everything.

Steve Keaton gave a talk about the new version of BootStrap 3. Steve presented multiple examples showing the different components and answering questions from audience. I learned a lot of things I didn’t know about bootstrap it was a very helpful session. The version of BootStrap 3 is a re-architecture based on best practices for responsive design.  Mostly it uses CSS but it also provides JavaScript components that are also based on responsive design principles. BootStrap 3 is major step forward on better Websites and Mobile Apps, since it takes a mobile first approach. You can read about what’s new on BootStrap 3.

There were more sessions on Cloud, Deployment and User Experience. You can check the topics online on the NCDevCon schedule. All sessions are also free to watch online.

Personal Highlights

My personal highlights:

  • Topics were very relevant to new Web Development technologies and tools
  • Free Beer on networking event
  • Driving distance from home @ NCSU facilities

Definitely I will be attending again next year.

Connect with Carlos on Twitter – @csantanapr