Code for Philly

Helping makers and doers work together to upgrade our city

Code for [My Town]

Announcements

This Week: Happy Thanksgiving. Next meetup: Tuesday, Nov 27th

  • The 27th will be a project hack night at Indy Hall.
  • Following up on our last event with Draw the Lines, those interested in working as a team to submit a redistricting map submission should join us. Let’s shoot for that grand prize of $5,000!

Latest Project Activity

Abbott Shea  Youth Education Program Matcher Update #1

Working with @benjammin & @alatshaw, this project has moved into testing!

The form is active and accessible here: https://generationworkphilly.com/workforce-development-program-match-platform/

The goal is to have the form pushed to users on 11/27, at which point it will move to maintaining.

Spencer Snygg  VoteWise.net Update #21

IT WORKS!!!!!

Right now, it works as a pretty decent voters guide.

  • There is a 5 minute questionnaire you can take to get matched up with your politicians (this is 21 questions for this election)
  • There is a Ballot Match questionnaire where you can answer every single question that politicians in your area answered (this is over 60 depending on your area)
  • You can take quizzes on just about every topic imaginable - Unlike the match questions, we wrote these to make you think while you are being polled . You learn about the issue from all sides of an argument so you can start thinking about middle ground while we match you up with organizations, politicians, and other users who can help you make a difference in your community.
  • You can see how organizations rated politicians. -You can see links to the organizations to learn more about them.
  • You can see the voting records of national incumbents
  • You can see who paid for the campaigns of National Incumbents. -You can see what committees the national incumbents have been on.
  • you can see the websites of the politicians -you can contact your elected officials year round. -you can contact the candidates.
  • you can see videos and essays from organizations so you can learn about the topics. -You can discuss the issues with other users in your city, your county, your state or across the nation. -You can see news feeds from national and international sources.

So what's the next step? Well, the goal of VoteWise is to get people to think about solving problems instead of treating elections as a football game to be won or lost. We realize that the competition aspects of elections is what gets people pumped and that's why we focused on the election tools first. But we'd like to start getting more into our actual goal of problem solving.

Tools we hope to build soon:

  • A way to track legislation and be notified when something you care about is coming up for a vote.
  • More integration of state and local info
  • Better integration of organizations into the mix (501 c3' and c4's)
  • Better integration of news feeds so users could see a variety of news feeds from their specific locality rather than a selection of 50 or so from a drop down) This feed would ultimately be a national source, a local source and a randomized source so that they get the information they want, but they are also constantly fed some other source to get them out of their bubble.
  • A tool separate from our regular discussion tool that is especially aimed at creating solutions to problems. Think of it as a hack event with no timeline and the goal is actually solving the problem rather than getting an award. (Someone proposes a problem or a solution to a problem. People discuss the solution in committee and fine tune it. It gets presented to larger community and suggestions are made. It goes back to committee, reworked and proposed again. This happens until a significant number of people think it is a workable solution and then we get interested organizations/politicians involved and track it's progress. Perhaps we create a tool that collects the skills of volunteers, so that when a coder, a doctor, a mechanic, or whatever is needed, we can find them. TO track progress after proposal we could include links to Git or back here for coding things, GoFundMe or similar for funding, or whatever. I would love to hear your ideas.

Oh and before I forget, here are some ads we made:

https://vimeo.com/298708834 (30 second get out the vote ad)

https://vimeo.com/295984284 (45 second funny get out the vote ad)

https://vimeo.com/294472087 (1 minute serious ad about how money affects politics)

https://vimeo.com/295179318 (2 minute ad amusing as about how VoteWise helps democracy work better)

Feel free to share.

Casey Vaughan (Staff) Leverage: Philly Campaign Finance Update #6

Spring /Summer 2018 Update

“Coming Together is a beginning, Keeping Together is progress, Working Together is success” -Henry Ford

  • Remi & Chris: API & Data pipeline
  • Konstantine: Error checking & Documentation
  • James: Docker setup, Front end & Pipeline
  • Casey: Project Coordinator

The Leverage team took the opportunity this Spring to review, revamp and confirm the accuracy of documentation on Github. In addition, a project board on Github was formally adopted in early summer to increase the productivity level of the team. To date we have successfully closed nearly 50 issues. “We know we are not setting any speed records as the project nears its 3rd year in the prototype stage so it’s certainly not the time to start cutting any corners.” Project scope increased from city focused to elections statewide as it became apparent that in-district and out-of-district donations are a key variable to track when researching voting options.

Azavea Credits!! Azavea generously provided the Leverage team with use of the companies Cicero API which enabled us to complete our coordinates for political districts in the city and statewide. You can read more about this contribution in an upcoming blog by Chris Williams on the Azavea web site. Casey connected with the product manager of Cicero at a Philly Tech week event held at the Philadelphia Free Library. Serendipitous networking like this goes to show what a vibrant and healthy Tech Ecosystem the City of Philadelphia has and its businesses support.

A focus group compilation was completed summarizing the three conversations held at various Free Library Branches around the city. The compilation also includes two information architecture activities for participants to get a feel for the breadth of information described within the Board of Ethics database. The first involved having participants look at the words currently used on the City Board of Ethics website and offer suggestions for alternative synonyms. The second activity was basic card sorting that provided participants to plan out how they would like to access the data. While the results of the study have not directly impacted the current design they provided momentum to the project and attracted developers at a time when interest and motivation was waning.

In late summer Chris Williams and Casey Vaughan attended a fundraiser for the 18th Ward (Kensington). The event was well attended by ward committee members, ward leaders and a state representative. The outing proved opportunity to speak with potential end users. One of the great things about getting involved in CfP projects is that it helps you to appreciate the variety of resources available for learning and engaging in the political process.

While no clear deadline has been set for Leverage the last 2 seasons of weekly Tuesday meetings have been productive. Put in the perspective that it takes one full year of weekly 2 hour meetings to put in 80 hours of work, Leverage has steadily moved towards completion. In the final weeks of the summer Chris Addey a Philadelphia based data scientist joined the group.

Rich McMillen (Administrator) Indy Hall - Code for Philly Partnership Announcement

Code for Philly is excited to announce that we’re now officially Indy Hall members!

This is a move that, in hindsight, we’re surprised didn’t occur to us sooner. Code for Philly and Indy Hall have always shared interests, cultural values, and community members. Both Indy Hall and Code for Philly exist to see Philadelphia prosper through positive, collective, community-centered action.

Not many talk about community organizing when talking about civic tech, but without community organizing, without outreach, without relationships, Code for Philly would have screeched to a halt a long time ago.

There’s a quote on Indy Hall’s website that just as easily could exist on Code for Philly’s site:

“That’s what you’ll find at the heart of Indy Hall: great people building authentic and meaningful connections while doing their best work together.”

That’s the heart of civic tech: community. No project would ever be able to get off the ground if it didn’t benefit from collective support, and volunteer effort from people who care.

What makes Code for Philly thrive, and not just survive, is being able to connect like-minded people with differing skill sets together to pursue progress via civic projects. We’ve found that same desire to bring people together in the people who call Indy Hall home. Together, we know that big changes start with a series of many smaller actions.

What our new membership means for Code for Philly

As some community members know, Indy Hall has been our pseudo “headquarters” for a little while now, but with this agreement, that HQ status really becomes true.

Going forward, Code for Philly will now be able to offer…

  • A place we can call home. We will still continue to host events throughout the city - in fact, it was important to the Indy Hall team that we don’t limit our presence to walls. But Indy Hall’s old city home will be a place where we can feel comfortable working together, a consistent and well-suited location for events geared towards collaboration (e.g. especially project hack nights).

  • More reach into the local community. Indy Hall’s community is now OUR extended community, and that includes hundreds of people from a wide range of skills, disciplines, and backgrounds. We’re actively looking for collaboration and networking opportunities with the wider Indy Hall network, and encourage you to share ideas.

  • Discounted guest passes at Indy Hall! If you can choose where you work and want to try spending a whole day at Indy Hall, Code for Philly members can save $10 off the normal day rate (aka $20 instead of $30) during the day before a Code for Philly event. To learn more and reserve your pass, visit https://www.indyhall.org/cfp/.

Our organization becoming members of Indy Hall will benefit the entire Code for Philly community in so many ways, but this move also reinforces that when it comes to creating and implementing civic outreach, engagement, and change, no one can or should have to work alone.

And that’s really what’s at the heart of the Indy Hall community, too. Nobody does their best work in total isolation. We’re better when we know each other, when we show up for each other, when we work together.