The City of Austin has a thriving tech community of civic hackers, innovators and urbanists. It also offers an open data portal and continues to work on its open government platform AustinGo. In 2013, the city created an Innovation Office as a way to encourage civic tech transparency and growth. It has an active Brigade led by Chip Rosenthal. To get in touch with the Austin Brigade email openaustin[at]googlegroups.com or visit the meetup page.
I refer to it as the Code for America effect: When the fellows spend the time in the city, you see everyone awaken to the possibilities.
Mateo Esquibel, Web Services Supervisor, City of Austin
Led by city contacts Doug Matthews and Mateo Esquibel, 2012 Austin fellows Aurelio Tinio, Emily Wright-Moore, Joe Merante were the first fellowship team to offer a regular newsletter of project updates.
It’s in these updates that their work shines through — from organizing hackathons, to engaging in nearly 100 community meetings, to building an app that was a true labor of love.
At a time when 1,300 homes in nearby Bastrop County, TX had been ravaged by wildfire, it was no surprise that the fellows decided to tackle wildfire preparedness as one of their projects. Armed with information from the Austin Fire Department’s Wildland Urban Interface and citizen polls, the fellows built Prepared.ly to pull in weather data feeds, assess red flags and offers tasks for citizen fire preparation. In addition to building the app, the team promoted it heavily via blog posts, a Huffington Post opinion editorial article and via word-of-mouth to locals. The app continues to serve the City of Austin and offers near real-time information on property risk.
As one of the most prolific teams in the Code for America fellowship, these fellows also built a virtual gallery for city hall, an app that tracks lost pets in shelters, an app that finds shelter and human services, a flood and emergency road closure map and public art mapping app.
Upon leaving the fellowship, the group was so enamored with Austin that they wrote a love letter to the city thanking their hosts for a great experience.