Spencer Snygg  VoteWise.net Update #23

So we should be updating the live site in a week and then again in a month. We are going to cover the Lehigh Valley, and Philadelphia and then New York City. At this moment, we are writing the five minute quiz for votersa dn politicians to take. What questions do you think we should ask?

Matt Schaff  Resource Philly Map Update #1

Big news! This Resource Philly Map project, formerly named Resource Awareness Philly, is moving again, and fast. We have a new prototype, and we're looking for more collaborators. Please reach out on Slack under the channel #resource-philly-map.

Prototype: Philly Resource Map

Given the interest of local nonprofits in managing their information, this project was re-rolled into the new Drupal 8 content management system.


  • Update data: The data is pulled from the spreadsheet compiled by this project team in 2015, so it needs to be updated. Come to the data entry sprint @ the Hack Night on 4/16!

  • Add cool new features: For examples, we're considering adding a revamped UX, disaster-specific services (e.g. for hurricanes, govt. shutdowns), user notifications (e.g. "New services added in your area"), and voice commands with DialogFlow (e.g. "Where is there available shelter near me?")

  • Build partnerships: The Office of Homeless Services in Philadelphia has indicated interest in generating a user base for this app, and we are building partnerships with local nonprofits serving homeless citizens as well as the Free Library.

Billy Hanafee  PHLASK: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Water Update #6

Hello Code for Philly community! With the addition of several new team members over the past couple months, I wanted to share some project updates:

Current Project Flows

  1. Website PHLASK Map functionality – adding Legend filtering; adding tap filtering; embedding open/close times from Google to add accessibility information
  2. Website PHLASK Map UI/UX – How to display all of the tap data / pictures in the side bar; displaying filtering tools and interface
  3. Data management – updating PHLASK database; mapping PHLASK points
  4. Data crowdsourcing – students at WB Saul HS helping; develop crowdsourcing tool
  5. Water Quality – Engaging PWD to dismantle myths and misconceptions about tap water

Simmering Ideas

  1. Data – Aggregate information about water quality, plastic bottle consumption and taste preferences / water drinking habits
  2. Website Migration – containerize Wordpress site for Linode hosting
  3. PHLASK App – convert website map into downloadable PHLASK App
  4. Special Event Mapping – mapping water locations for special events (eg. Broad Street Run)


  1. “Okay Google, PHLASK for water” Google assistant command
  2. New public tap water infrastructure
  3. PHLASK branded reusable bottles

Update from school visit:

[On March 20th] I visited the students at Walter B Saul High School to talk about their participation in the PHLASK Project and sustainability thinking. We watched “The Story of Stuff” on YouTube, which describes the current wasteful life cycle of consumerism and the need to shift to a more sustainable system for producing, consuming and reusing products. (If you haven’t watched it, I’d highly recommend it!) We then contextualized this with thinking about the life cycle of single-use water bottles and the comparative life cycle impacts vs simply drinking water from the tap. I think the students were pretty engaged at points and showed genuine concern for the issues.

For next steps, the students are going to start creating marketing materials and strategies to reach out to businesses. We did an interesting class survey to measure the students’ own water drinking habits, which I’m also hoping they will extend to the wider school community so that we can get even more data. We also left it a bit open-ended so that they can potentially approach this project from other creative angles.

If anyone is interested in working with the students directly, please reach out and let me know! The class’ teacher, Greg Smith, is very receptive to new ideas and additional ways to give hands-on experience to the students.

Plenty of Water II

Last year around this time, we had a little happy hour celebration at Plenty Café when they became the first Private-Shared point on the map. Since we have a growing team, it might be fun to have another happy hour so we can all hang out and learn more about one another. It could also be an opportunity to welcome other individuals to contribute ideas / help with other project vectors. Just wanted to put that on the radar so we could consider doing it sometime in April (United By Blue as the 2nd private-shared location could be a cool opportunity)

As always, we welcome anyone to the project who would like to get involved and help out. If you see something that strikes your interest or have other ideas, please reach out and join the #PHLASK channel on Slack.

Spencer Snygg  VoteWise.net Update #22

We are currently trying to decide priorities for this year. Do we focus on local elections in a few larger cities or do we focus on 2020? Doing local elections requires a different set of tools than federal ones and different research/networking. we can get information on national candidates eaily, but there are over 10,000 local election boards, and we just don't have enough time to contact them all. So we can spend a lot of time trying to build tools and relationships with other organizations that can do the footwork for us, or we can pick a few cities, or we can focus on 2020.


Because a lot of people vote along party lines, Votewise.net is most useful for primaries - which unfortunately cuts down our lead time.

You can check out the our progress at our test site or you can see the live tools at VoteWise.net

Billy Hanafee  PHLASK: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Water Update #5

Happy New Year, Code for Philly community. Here are some updates on the PHLASK Project:

Drinking Water Working Group Meeting At the end of December, I attended a meeting of the newly formed Drinking Water Working Group, which has been convened to address people’s reluctance for drinking tap water. I gave a presentation of our efforts over the past year and talked about ways the PHLASK Project could buttress the new coalition’s mission. There were nearly 20 attendees, representing both city departments (PWD, PDPH, Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet, Managing Director’s Office) and several non-profit organizations. There is ample opportunity for us to use our existing work to guide cooperation with various members and subcommittees of the Drinking Water Working Group.

Potential opportunities include:

  • Recruiting students for data collection and Map/App testing
  • Public Water Testing
  • PHLASK Map for citywide events (marathons, concerts, etc.)

PHLASK Map - Now on Node Work has begun on migrating the PHLASK Map from the main PHLASK WordPress website to it’s own standalone Node.js application. This change allows for us to incorporate better version control protocols and to make changes and improvements live more quickly. We are currently in the process of matching the page style of the Node.js application to the old WordPress application and once complete the Node.js version will go live.

PHLASK Website migration With the assistance of Code for Philly organizers we are containerizing both the PHLASK WordPress websites and new Node.js PHLASK map through docker. Once containerized we will also be using Code for Philly web hosting through Linode to deploy our applications and website.

PHLASK Map / App UX/UI Design Project Newcomer Anna has brought an exciting new skillset to the team with her knowledge of UX/UI design. She is helping lead efforts to critically examine how people will interact with the PHLASK Map / App and create intuitive features. She is planning a transparent method to engage stakeholders and interested parties in contributing to the process. The current plan can be found here: PHLASK UX Research Plan

As always, we welcome support, contributions and feedback from anyone who would like to get involved.

Abbott Shea  Youth Education Program Matcher Update #2

We are moving the project to maintaining! Great work by @alatshaw & @benjammin to define the product and get it into the hands of some pilot programs.

The product will continue to evolve from here. @alatshaw will be taking over main ownership of the project, and will still be working closely with @benjammin to get new features added through the new year. Anyone looking to work with and help a great product looking to impact an under supported part of the Philly community reach out to either of them!

Spencer Snygg  VoteWise.net Update #21


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.

Kelsey Huse  Modus Update #1

We are working on implementing a real-time image recognition library into our React Native app. Currently testing out Tensorflow, which may not be ideal for working with Expo. Looking into other options and researching.

Beginning to learn about 3D graphics for the AR view using Three.js. Lynda has a course that is free via Philadelphia Free Library membership, so we are checking that out to start.

Need to work on our UI/UX of the app and solidify the gaming rules. Need a workflow for submitting quiz questions and additional historical sites.

Casey Vaughan (Staff) Leverage: Philly Campaign Finance Update #5

Fall 17/ Winter 18

Leverage started a new sprint in the Fall of 2017 with a core group of developers made up of James Lott, Remi Adewale and Chris Williams. The initial API built in the Fall of 2016 during the City as a Service Hackathon was scrapped along with the existing front end built in AngularJS. As James Lott recalls, “we overhauled the data model and Chris already had a working code base that just needed to be written around the Philly data.”

An MVP was proposed for a sprint for with three pages to be completed. The first page will display Per Race Information such as total raised and top contributors. The second page will display information about All Candidates running in any one Race. So for each candidate you would see total raised and party affiliation. The third is a Candidate Detail page which displays information about funds raised by individual candidates. For example information such as funds raised inside of and outside of Philadelphia as well as inside and outside of Pennsylvania. Additionally we plan for the third page to show top contributors as well as contributions by zip code.

Leverage met consistently through the Fall of 2017 before lightning up the workload during the the holidays. Joining the team at this time was Constantine Sergeev who met the Leverage team at an open house event. Eamon Caddigan also stepped back into the ring to provide some veteran insight.

While the original MVP timeline was not met the team carried the momentum through the winter and into 2018. It was decided in the early spring of 2018 to extend the timeline for the MVP indefinitely and focus more effort on organizing the work and tasks that trying to control the pace. The technology stack is composed of Vanilla Javascript (ES6) and Bootstrap 4 on the front end and the API is built with Python 3, Flask and Alchemy.

Jason Cox (Staff) Cypher Philly Update #1

We are still in planning phase. There is some prototype code that is working, but there's a need for project planning and documentation.

Most of the next "sprint" of tasks are in the Github project. I'll be updating documentation to make it easier to know the goals, architecture ideas, and setup.


I'll be at the next two Hack Nights! We will also be planning another weekend or evening session in the slack channel soon. Join us if you'd like!

Billy Hanafee  PHLASK: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Water Update #4

Hello Code for Philly community,

Mapping The PHLASK team has been actively working this spring to build the web map and mobile app features. We currently have about 40 verified PHLASK sites on the map, which include a mix of public, private-shared and private water taps. With the guidance of the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), Phila. Dept. of Public Health (PDPH) and Department of Public Property, we're hoping to incorporate more public access taps at places like libraries and rec centers in the coming month.

Water Tasting Event: May 14, 2018 Our previously scheduled water tasting event at the CHF was cancelled, but we have scheduled a new water tasting event in partnership with Mural Arts' Trash Academy at the upcoming "Plastic China" screening and discussion at the Free Library (Facebook Event). We've found that there are lots of misconceptions about our municipal water system vs. bottled water, and in our efforts to encourage more sustainable water-drinking habits we want to foster a broader reflection on these issues.

We continue to welcome both technical and organizational help in scaling the PHLASK project. Even though the overt 'deliverable' is a map and app to help people find water refill locations, there is a lot of additional grassroots work that goes into building capacity for the project. The ultimate goal of the PHLASK project is to "reduce dependence on single-use plastic bottles," which requires a broader cooperative effort beyond just programming, so please reach out and get involved if you're interested in the mission.




Leonard Jones  Garden Hero Update #1

Lead up to Launchpad 2018

We are still in the early stages of planning and writing the application. If you'd like to help, please drop me a line at leojones4902@gmail.com. We plan to meet twice a week before the May 22nd Demo Day for Launchpad 2018.

Tuesday - Remotely (8PM - 9PM)

Sunday - Indy Hall (10AM - 11AM)

Ronald Williams