NEW YORK, SAN FRANCISCO and WASHINGTON, June 10, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Living Cities, Code for America and the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership announced today the selection of Boston and St. Louis to participate in the Civic Tech and Data Collaborative, a new initiative to harness the power of civic data and technology to improve the lives of low-income people. Over the next two years, teams of civic technologists, data practitioners and government officials in each city will develop data and technology solutions to address a pressing problem in their city. Each will be supported in this effort by a $200,000 grant and coaching from the national partner organizations.
BOSTON: The City of Boston's Department of Innovation and Technology, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Code for Boston and the Boston Indicators Project will streamline the process for connecting young people to summer jobs. The city currently places more than 10,000 young people annually, and projects that better technology could facilitate the placement of thousands more. Data they capture from this process will help them better understand the program's clients and how to enhance the program over time.
"Summer employment helps young people develop the skills and experiences that support long-term career success," said Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Chief Information Officer for the City of Boston. "Thanks to this project, our staff will be able to focus on recruiting young people and businesses rather than processing applications."
ST. LOUIS: Rise, Open Data STL, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County will collaborate to implement technology solutions to help people navigate the local criminal justice system, including traffic ticket resolution, appearing in court and resolving warrants. Better collection and analysis of data will improve the operations of these systems. The partners will also collect stories about people's interactions with the justice system in order to identify and push for additional solutions.
"We are honored to be part of this important collaboration," said Eleanor Tutt, Data Management Coordinator for Rise. "Improvements in data collection and analysis can result in significant enhancements in people's relations with local governments."
Code for Boston and Open Data STL are Code for America volunteer Brigade groups, while the Boston Indicators Project and Rise are affiliated with the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership. Systematic collaboration across groups of "civic hackers," data practitioners, community groups and local governments has yet to become common practice in cities. A key goal of the project is to demonstrate what can be achieved when these players work intentionally together, and to help more local leaders understand how such collaboration can be done successfully.
"When it comes to addressing poverty in America's cities, our pace of change is too slow, and the scale too small," said Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities. "We want to prove that the disruptive power of data and technology can be harnessed to achieve dramatically better results in the lives of low-income people, faster. In order to do that, you have to have all the key partners at the table, working intentionally towards a shared result."
"Smart, data-driven decision-making can become the norm," said Sarah Rosen Wartell, President of the Urban Institute, which coordinates the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership. "But it requires close collaboration among people who can organize and analyze the data, communicate the insights, and act on the findings. Because these projects have brought the right players together, as they unfold, they'll teach us a great deal about building strong local data cultures that can respond to what communities need."
Both projects aim to improve local government processes that touch the lives of low-income city residents. "At Code for America, we believe that government can work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century," said Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America. "That cause is best advanced through partnerships among local government leaders, civically-minded technologists, and community data practitioners. We're excited to help these groups move the needle on an issue that matters."
In addition to supporting these two cities in this work, the partners will capture learnings and develop tools aimed at helping local leaders across the country adopt similar approaches.
Eight cities applied to participate in this program, and four were selected as finalists. Boston and St. Louis were selected for the strength of their local partners, their ability to collaborate, and their focus on compelling issues affecting low-income people.
The program is supported through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
About Living Cities
Living Cities harnesses the collective power of 22 of the world's largest foundations and financial institutions to develop and scale new approaches for creating opportunities for low-income people and improving the cities where they live. Its investments, research, networks, and convenings catalyze fresh thinking and combine support for innovative, local approaches with real-time sharing of learning to accelerate adoption in more places. Additional information can be found at www.livingcities.org.
About Code for America
Code for America is a national non-profit that believes government can work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century. In collaboration with communities, companies, and government, Code for America builds open source technology and organizes a network of people dedicated to making government services simple, effective, and easy to use. More at www.codeforamerica.org.
About the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership
The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) is a collaborative effort by the Urban Institute and local partners to further the development and use of neighborhood information systems in local policymaking and community building. For more information, please visit www.neighborhoodindicators.org/.
About the Urban Institute
The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector.
Code for America
Urban Institute / National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership
SOURCE Living Cities; Code for America; National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership