- Published: 20 May 2020
On May 7th, 2020, I listened to Greg Hermann, the Deputy City Manager for the City of San Luis Obispo speak to my Web Technologies for Planning course. He spoke about his personal career experience and the role of technology in public planning and governance, especially in civic technology and public engagement.
Civic technology connects users and residents to their community. One notable benefit to civic tech is the involvement of civic pride and the adoption of various local features in the city. One example Greg Hermann presented is the Adopt-a-Hydrant program of the City of Boston. Citizens can sign up to claim responsibility for a local fire hydrant and shovel out any snow to keep it accessible to emergency fire services. This program allows Boston residents to feel more connected and engaged in their community while providing a free service that saves the city time and money instead of sending public employees to clear the snow around the buried hydrants.
The Adopt-a-Hydrant program is also unique because it was a Fellowship project with Code for America. Code for America is an organization that works with governments, activists, computer experts and technocrats to create civic technology applications for the public. Organizations like Code for America allow citizens to engage with public agencies without the need of enterprise-level software that may be over-complicated and costly. Code for America lowers the obstacles and cost-of-entry into the tech sphere with specific projects and applications, instead of a one-app-covers-all approach.
Greg also stated that government can solve a majority of issues by distributing information. I agree and I have a personal experience. In 2017, I was visiting a friend in Oakland and he was not sure what side of the street I could park overnight because street sweeping service was scheduled for the next day. Before I started my drive I found the Oakland Street Sweeping Map, an interactive online GIS application showing streets, odd or even side of the street, and times and day of the week that street sweeping occurs. This free and simple online tool allowed me to know what side of the street I could park overnight to avoid a ticket before arriving at my destination. This was possible through the creation and publication of an app using open municipal services data distributed to the public; I did not have to contact any public works or city employees to solve this issue, one of the great benefits of civic technology.
The app can be found at http://oakgis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=075bf89b418c4fbd9a4c5a8e93200711.
Autor(en)/Author(s): Troy Lawson
Quelle/Source: Troy Lawson, 12.05.2020