Michael Norelli could have called the city about a blocked street drain in his neighborhood. But he cleared it himself, then kept on clearing it in storm after storm — a simple do-it-yourself action that eventually led him to a civic tech team and even some notoriety with OpenOakland, Code for America's brigade in Oakland, CA.
What does Open Budget Oakland need? What do most civic tech groups need? OBO has got a coder, it’s got someone with political connections, it’s got a UX designer, and others. It still needs a better way to help people use the site. A storyteller.
To watch a meeting of developers and others building an air-quality related app is to see a snapshot of the civic tech movement today. Civic tech projects start out looking like it’s all about technology. But the more you look, the more you see that “civic” -- meaning the development team, the people who’ll use their app, and anyone who might someday find value in their work — swings way more weight than “tech” ever will.
Louisville, Kentucky's chief technology officer works with the Code for America Brigade captain every day. That sounds to me like a good way to start building a smart city. But there's more to it than that. “My job is to help us chart the course forward” for what he sees as the new IT. If as the metaphor goes, data is the new oil, or technology is the new steam engine, or “smart” is the new “rich and famous,” Ed Blayney has just sprung the gate. This former second-in-command of an Army infantry company in Afghanistan says civic tech's not going away.
She's the first woman of color on the San Ramon (CA) City Council, born in Pakistan, a senior member of the 5G group at a major telecom carrier, and a mom -- and she's coaxing her "surprisingly unconnected" city into the digital age. Her job won't be easy, as she's found out since being elected last November.