Mapzen donation helps Code for America help cities with geospatial data

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Mapzen, an open source mapping lab, has donated $500,000 to Code for America to help the organization continue to assist city and county governments open more geospatial data and to build open-source mapping technology.

The donation will help aid Code for America in opening up more parcel data from cities, creating a common open format for parcel data and supporting the technology infrastructure the organization needs to handle the large amount of location data it uses.

Wrote Mapzen’s Ingrid Burrington on the company’s blog:

“For the last 5 years, Code for America has connected governments and technologists so that both can better serve citizens. It’s hard work. It’s work that requires a lot of listening and learning, a lot of collaboration across organizations and agencies, and a whole lot of work with weird, hyper-particular government datasets. That’s not always the kind of work that gets attention or accolades, but it is the kind of work that facilitates transformative change. And it’s the kind of work we hope will happen through this generous donation and partnership.”

In her own blog post, Code for America’s Ashley Meyers said maps can be a powerful way to make public data more understandable and relevant to cities, and GIS data is often among the first data governments publish.

Code for America city partners have opened hundreds of new sets of geographically-interesting data, and the organization believes that opening foundational information like parcel and addressing data, governments can empower citizen technology to build better maps and tools.

“Geodata and mapping have always been close to Code for America’s heart,” Meyers said. “Over the last four years, CfA Fellows and Brigades have included many talented geographers. We’re lucky to have Michal Migurski on the team as CTO, a leader in the OpenStreetMap community with deep experience building beautiful maps at Stamen. We’ve also been fortunate to have the backing of great partners in the mapping space, like Esri and Mapbox.”

Thanks to a generous donation from @Mapzen, CfA is able to support advancements in open source geospatial tech! http://t.co/uEtFDs9igV

— Code for America (@codeforamerica) September 17, 2014

Some projects the organization has already done this year regarding mapping technology and data, according to CfA:

  • Several 2014 Fellowship teams are building civic tech using open spatial data and mapping. Citygram, a platform for geographically-targeted public notifications, will be live this month in Charlotte, NC and Lexington, Ky. TransitMix, a tool that makes it dramatically easier for both governments and citizens to design and remix transit systems, is another example. It had 16,000 users in just three weeks after launch, and now they are piloting case studies with a handful of transit agency partners.
  • Two geo companies in the 2014 CfA Accelerator cohort: Trailhead Labs and AmigoCloud. Trailhead Labs is collaborating with CfA on our effort to scale the OpenTrails standard, with a training course for nearly a dozen agencies, technical integration in progress with Esri R&D, and advisors from the Trust for Public Land, the National Recreation and Park Association, and Strava. (Check out the Outside magazine article on OpenTrails.)
  • In response to growing interest from governments, CfA put together a training on new mapping tools. Over 50 governments participated at the live web session and hundreds more have already watched it.

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