I attended the Code for America kick-off event in Boston this week. Jennifer Pahlka has assembled a great team in Boston (and across the country), has solid partners in Boston City Hall, and the support of industry leaders like Microsoft.
Bill Oates, CIO for the City of Boston, provided a nice overview of the partnership with Code for America. In Boston, the goal is to build an educational services data infrastructure and API and deliver some set of educationally focused solutions. Over the course of the next month the team will be working to define which sets of problems they will focus on. Of equal importance, the teams will be documenting all the problems they identify, allowing others, citizen volunteers and private businesses, to tackle these problems, potentially creating new market opportunities and jobs in the process. The benefit of Code for America will likely go far beyond the work each team solves in their six month projects. Their efforts have the potential to transform cities, their governments and their citizens, for years to come.
I asked Jennifer if she had any plans to expand Code for America into an international effort. While Code for America may eventually consider this opportunity, it is likely years away. Building a sustainable model will take time and this is where the focus is correctly being placed. With that said, there is an opportunity for this type of organization to form in other countries and create a global partnership between organizations.
Code for America recently delivered an hour-long webinar which I have included below. As they note, “Over the past six months we’ve heard from cities big and small across America about the challenges they’re facing. Through hundreds of interviews, we’ve seen first-hand the problems and the potential in local government. We’d like to share with you some of out learnings: what we’ve been hearing from local leaders across the country, why cities are interested in our programs, and how our projects can change the way citizens and governments work together. In this webinar, we go over the city program, discuss some common challenges facing our local governments, and answer questions from the audience“.