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Casey Vaughan Leverage: Philly Campaign Finance Update #4

Leverage: Project Update: Spring/Summer 17

The spring and Summer of 2017 brought Leverage both cause for celebration and cause for concern. The list of reasons to celebrate included an in depth interview with a supervisor at the city of Philadelphia Board of Ethics, a presentation of iteration 3 proposed features in front of a panel of judges and conference calls with representatives from MapLight and OpenOakland. In addition the research team carried out its 2nd & 3rd Focus Groups at various public libraries in the city. Still at end of summer it was as if all these gains could be eclipsed by a lack of progress and consensus on the frontend. Here is a closer look at these events and a shout of appreciation out to those who helped along the way.

At the CELaunchpad Demo night held in early spring Chris Williams and Casey Vaughan presented the project and received feedback from several professional developers. While not all the feedback was what we wanted to hear it definitely helped us to evaluate our project objectively. No one want’s to hear that your project is “a little lacking in direction” but its better then finding out the hard way when no one shows up to team meetings. Feedback like, “I think your idea of a focus group is great. It will really help further your project.” helped us solidify our plans for running focus groups throughout the summer months.

Throughout the spring and summer of 2017 Eamon Caddigan and Casey Vaughan held a series of focus groups at various libraries in the city with interested citizens. The conversations provided us with several insights into how citizens relate to campaign finance information, insights we hope can be used to inform the design of the Leverage user experience. Thanks to the staff at the Philadelphia Free library (Independence, Fishtown and Blackwell branches) for allowing us to utilize their meeting rooms for focus groups this summer.

Our Open Disclosure Oakland conversation was a dream come true and is thanks to the planning of People team lead Pat Woods. In mid summer Leverage had a whole hour to discuss topics with key members of their team. Questions ranged from teambuilding tips and onboarding to code architecture. John Rhoades from Commonwealth Commonsense joined the call and provided key insights about existing campaign finance disclosure in the state of Pennsylvania. We plan to keep this line of communication going in the future as it provided us with valuable insights and answers. Thanks to the Open Disclosure Oakland team for an informative conference call that helped us appreciate what it takes to complete a campaign finance application!

Our conversation with Map Light helped us realize just how fortunate we were to live in a city with rigorous campaign finance regulations and data. Map Lights program director Hamsini Sridharan filled us in about the work Map Light is doing around the country to build a campaign finance product (Illinois, New York and California) for voters and journalists. Going forward we have been offered the opportunity to speak with Skippy Williams, Product Manager at Map Light. We are looking forward to continuing this conversation. Thanks to Hamsini Sridharan for sharing insights into the landscape of campaign finance around the nation.

Code for Philly continues to provide the Leverage team a backbone of support services. CfP has helped Leverage find new members as well as places to hold meetings. Launchpads and hackathons have been springboards that allowed the project to build momentum. We are grateful for all the hard work the CfP leadership does to provide passionate civic technologists the opportunity to build cool projects.

Spencer Snygg VoteWise.net Update #17

Do you have widgets that work? On votewise.net, we are making a space where people can make use of the local widgets based on where they live. So, if you have any widgets that work with no bugs that we can embed, we'd love to see them. API's are a bit tougher for us to install, but if they are awesome and maybe you could help us install them, then fantastic. We would be particularly interested in APIs that enhance our database rather than living alongside it.

So what are we looking for?

The goal of VoteWise.net is to connect voters, politicians, and organizations without advertising dollars getting in the way so that they can work together towards solving all the problems we face. We are looking for widgets that improve the lives of people without a financial benefit. So a widget that tracks crime, yes. A widget that reviews restaurants, no.

Local widgets can be categorized by any combination of the following topics: Civil Liberties, Crime and Punishment, Education, Energy, Environment, Gun Control, Health & Safety, Immigration, Infrastructure, International Relations, jobs/economy, quality of life, reproduction, social services, and taxes. So, if for example, you have created a widget where people can find the safest bike route around South Philly, we would list it in infrastructure, quality of life, and health and safety for the area of Philadelphia, PA and users could easily access it.

And of course, if you see anything that we can improve in any part of the site, let us know.

Pat Woods How our next hackathon will benefit all of Pennsylvania

We’re excited to announce our latest hackathon in partnership with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Office of Data and Digital Technology: #Code4PA.

What is Code4PA?

Code4PA is a hackathon that encourages learning, collaboration, growth, innovation, and fun among PA’s network of technical talent. Through a series of collaborative events, teams will utilize state and local data to generate ideas, designs, prototypes and/or apps to increase transparency and efficiency for public engagement with the government..”

-From Code4PA website

It’s Code for Philly, but on a Commonwealth level

This is a unique a Code for Philly event, as we’ll be assisting PA ODT, but the event will follow the format of our previous City as a Service Hackathon (CaaSH) and Civic Engagement Launchpad events. We’ll get together for ideas and project kickoffs the weekend of September 29th to October 1st, then reconvene a month later on November 4th to pitch solutions.

Getting Started

We know Code4PA doesn’t start until next month, but it’s never too early to start thinking of project ideas, right?

You can find out more information and sign up at the event website http://www.code4pa.tech/. Make sure to choose the Philadelphia option while registering.

Special thanks to Jess Ryan for her help with editing this article.

Billy Hanafee PHLASK: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Water Update #2

Hey everyone, I took a bit of a hiatus from the project while I was away the past 2 weeks, but I'm back and in full water-sharing mode!

Tech:

We're currently figuring out how to setup a collaborative database that can be used to store, sort and lookup water sharing locations. Once the database is setup, we'll work on automating a process that can map all the locations

Non-tech:

I will be participating in PhillyCAM's People Power Hour to talk about PHLASK and environmental justice issues on Wednesday, Aug 16. The discussion will be broadcast on 106.5 FM and on Facebook. Info here:

PhillyCAM People Power Hour

We're also working on building capacity for marketing and chartering the PHLASK Co-op, which will be tasked with cooperatively maintaining the PHLASK network.

Please join the #PHLASK channel on slack to join the conversation!

Sincerely, Billy

Laura Oxenfeld My Philly Buzz

‘MyPhilly’ Aims to Increase Neighborhood Involvement

Article posted by Kamal Elliott at the Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation

A map of RCOs shared by the City already exists, but the new app can facilitate new levels of engagement. “[The government resource] serves a lot of different purposes, so you have to dig in the settings to get to the RCO layer,” said Laura Oxenfeld, MyPhilly’s lead user experience designer and project manager. “So ours is just devoted to that.”

Read the full article on beta.phila.gov…Published

Billy Hanafee PHLASK: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Water Update #1

Today was the first time for visiting the Code for Philly community. Thank you to Chris for helping to curate the process and show me some of the ins-and-outs of working with the community and the technical interfaces.

The PHLASK project is still in its nascent stages from a technical perspective, but we've been very active engaging community participation. This past week, we partook in a Climate Change Discussion Group to talk about how the PHLASK Initiative can be a tangible solution to helping reduce waste, and is an important step towards Environmental Justice

Read this post for more info: PHLASKING for Environmental Justice

We've also met with people from Philadelphia Assembled, Blue Marble Solutions, and are in conversations with the Philadelphia Water Department and Jefferson University.

Looking forward to continuing the progress at the next Code for Philly Meetup.

Sincerely, Billy

Matthew Palilonis FIRECLOUD: Connecting Firehouses Together Update #1

Hi Code for Philly,

I am a 15 year volunteer firefighter working on becoming an emergency medicine physician. I have a passion to help my brothers and sisters in the volunteer fire service in any way that I can. PROBLEM: Many fire department (non-major cities) have limited resources and budget to build an appropriate technology infrastructure to operate efficiently, manage finances, track truck maintenance, track members activities, recruit new members and share resources with surrounding departments both training and mutual aid pre-plans in event of a multi-alarm fire. GOAL: Develop a online, cloud storage, mobile platform for these departments to do their day-to-day business, share resources with other departments and spread training opportunities online. Please consider helping to develop a online platform for local fire departments so they can recruit, train and provide to their communities. Lets connect firehouses together! Thank you for your time and consideration.

FF Matthew DO MHSA