Currently browsing: Civic Tech

Urban Apps and Maps in Philadelphia


Nice to see the continued civic tech engagement in the city of brotherly love. From

PHILLY’S UNDER a new kind of neighborhood watch thanks to an app developed by high school students.

Eleven high school students in Temple University’s Urban Apps and Maps Studios’ Building Information Technology Skills summer program have developed a Web-based app called “Gotcha,” which allows the public to post crimes they’ve seen in the city.

Read More:

GovLoop: Lessons Learned to Create the Open GIS Platform


Great article from GovLoop on GIS data (used heavily for the location features on EveryBlock) and how city GIS departments have expertise beyond mapping: they’re usually pretty good at managing large data sets, too.

In our latest GovLoop guideOpen Data and GIS: Better Understanding Our World, we explore a crucial element of the open data movement: geographic information systems (GIS). Time and again, we have seen how GIS facilitates government to visualize, question, analyze, interpret and understand data, and reveal complex relationships, patterns and trends.

But at the Esri DC R&D Center, a talented team is looking at ways to not only leverage the power of GIS, but also open data. The Esri DC R & D Center is focused on creating, designing and developing cutting edge web applications to make GIS more accessible and help drive better public sector decisions.

Read More:

How committed are the G7 countries to open data?


Interesting piece from the Sunlight Foundation, which has ranked the G7 countries based on their commitment to Open Data.

While the G7 (previously G8) countries pledged to make data “open by default” and “usable by all” last summer, many of their open data action plans show hesitations and difficulties to guarantee their data will be free of charge.

Sunlight has been following the development of the G8 Open Data Charter since it was signed. G8 Leaders agreed to follow five open data principles and publish their own national action plans detailing how to implement the Charter. Four countries failed to launch their plans by the deadline of October 2013, and Germany has still yet to release its plan — now nine months delayed.

Read More:

Data Into Dollars: SpotCrime Maps Crime Data


Interesting article from Socrata on a crime data aggregator called SpotCrime, which utilizes open data to provide users with information via multiple platforms. The service also layers the data in the case of multiple law enforcement agencies working on the same problem (i.e. local police, campus police, transit police).

When Colin Drake’s GPS was stolen from his car, a little lightbulb went off in his head. The incident got him thinking about crime and its connection to geography. He spoke to Socrata about crime data, location, and mapping.

“I had a police report to show that the car had been broken into, but I wanted to see where it happened, and if my neighbors had reported similar incidents,” Drake says. So, seven years ago, Drake started mapping the crimes he found reported in his local newspaper. At the time, that was the best way to get crime data quickly.

Read More:

New in Chicago: Bike Parking Request Map


Interesting use of OpenPlans Shareabout software in Chicago: requests for bike parking. Some cool stuff being done with geolocation and civic tech.

Chicago DOT recently launched a new bike parking requests website, using Shareabouts. It’s a neat project, and bike parking requests are flooding in.

Beyond being a neat example of responsive government, the project is also a great case study for how we work at OpenPlans.

Read more:

Using Civic Tech to help with City Zoning


Great piece from Government Technology on a civic tech tool that helps entrepreneurs, real estate developers, and city planners speed up the zoning inquiry process.

For cities hailing businesses to bolster tax revenues, the courtship can be paradoxical. Cities launch campaigns, initiatives and incentives, only to bury potential prospects in tangles of regulatory paperwork and planning regulation. The process can be deal-breaking.

To ease the burden on officials, required to regulate, and on business owners, who must navigate city codes, one civic tech startup has released a new question-and-answer tool that maps open zoning areas based on an applicant’s interests. The tool, called ZoningCheck, comes fromOpenCounter, a Code for America Accelerator company and Knight Foundation grant recipient.

Read more:

Digital initiative to expand help for military veterans


The Knight Foundation recently wrote about a site called The Wait We Carry, which uses open data to help people learn about the wait times that veterans endure to get medical services. The site, created by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), also allows people to learn about specific veterans and to connect with them. With a new $500,000 grant from The Knight Foundation, future plans include developing a digital ecosystem with new data and information projects, as well as making the site into an open-source visualization tool that other groups can use.

Read more about The Wait We Carry:

New Open Data Sets in Chicago


Open Data fans rejoice! (And beachgoers, taxi riders, and affordable broadband supporters.) There are some new datasets on the City of Chicago Data Portal.

The City of Chicago has released a handful of new datasets which pertain to several parts of daily life in Chicago. The public will be able to explore the water quality at Chicago beachesfind who and which vehicles are licensed to carry passengers, activities for Chicago’s Micro-Market Recovery Program, and the geographic areas targeted by the City’s Broadband Innovation Challenge.

Read more:

Socrata launches the Open Data Network


Great news from Socrata on their effort to increase the creation and consumption of open data, to benefit cities, citizens, and the economy.

Socrata (, a Seattle-based cloud software company focused exclusively on democratizing access to government data, today announced the launch of the Open Data Network, which will unleash the full potential of government data and help drive sustained prosperity in connected communities all over the world.

Bringing together a vast and connected ecosystem of participants – governments that are open data publishers and consumers; businesses that incorporate and use government data; citizens; and civic developers and entrepreneurs who use open data to build service delivery apps – the Open Data Network will encompass 25-30 industries, each with its own unique and valuable data set.

Read more:

Code For America Fellowship


The deadline to apply for a Code For America Fellowship is tomorrow, so if you’re interested in working with cities to help improve the citizen experience, fill out an application! To see a list of some of the apps developed by  Code For America fellows, click here.

© 2014 EveryBlock. All rights reserved.