Code for America announced its latest round of digital development partnerships with six local governments for the 2016, aimed at helping communities develop innovative applications to address pressing civic issues.
“Each partner was selected for their commitment to making government services simpler, faster, and more effective for the people who use them,” said Jennifer Pahlka, founder and executive director of Code for America. The program will pair 18 mid-career technologists with top officials from each local government for a one-year engagement to address a variety of civic challenges.
The six local government initiatives and their local team leaders are:
Kansas City, Missouri — to improve access to health and human services, led by Marty Galutia, strategic planning and quality officer, and Tiffany Wilkinson, assistant division manager at Kansas City Health Department.
Long Beach, California — to promote economic development opportunities, led by Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia; Mark Taylor, chief of staff; and John Keisler, innovation team director.
New Orleans — to promote economic development opportunities for New Orleans residents, led by Alex S. Lebow, director of strategic partnerships, and Ashleigh Gardere, senior adviser to Mayor Mitchell J. Landrieu.
New York City — to improve access to city health and human services, led by Ariel Kennan, director of innovation and design in the city’s Office of Operations, and Matthew Klein, executive director of the Center for Economic Opportunity in the mayor’s office.
Salt Lake County — to safely reduce incarceration in Salt Lake County, led by Fraser Nelson, director of data and innovation, and Elizabeth Mitchell, senior adviser and research associate at Salt Lake County’s mayor’s office.
Seattle – to safely reduce incarceration and help those in need of access to critical services, led by Bill Schrier, CIO, and Mike Wagers, COO of the Seattle Police Department.
The partnerships attempt to tackle recurring challenges local governments face in providing public services.
“Salt Lake County is struggling with having to re-arrest people for not showing up to a court appearance or to court-ordered treatment. That is expensive, inefficient and—most of all—doesn’t help address the reason behind the original arrest,” said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, in a Code for America press statement. Working with Code for America to find the right technological tool promises to “ease overcrowding at the jail and help put individuals on a more constructive path.”
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu sees the partnership as one element in his city’s efforts to “support our economic opportunity strategy and generate tools for connecting disadvantaged job seekers and businesses to new opportunities.”
Code for America pairs civic-minded software developers, through a sponsored fellowship program, with government partners to explore ways technology might address to local challenges.
Over the past five years, the fellowship program has produced more than 65 software applications with 38 municipal governments and 126 fellows.
“Our fellows apply an iterative, user-centered, and data-driven approach to their work … to debug government operations, and develop a new set of digital practices that help them work better in the 21st century,” said Luke Norris, Code for America’s senior director of government relations. “The Fellowship shifts the way governments think about and use technology to deliver public services.”
The program also adds momentum to local government entities trying to continue incorporating technology into their operations.
Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole sees the the partnership as a way to help better “connect officers, service providers, and those in need quickly and efficiently. This is another example of technology driving positive change for all.”
For Dr. Rex D. Archer, Kansas City’s director of health, partnering with Code for America promises to help the health department “better leverage technology to … impact health inequities,” he said.