OpenPGH – Code for America – Pittsburgh Brigade

I have been meaning to write a post about the last Code for America Pittsburgh Brigade Meetup which was held at the Studio for Creative Inquiry in February.  But is has been a busy month – I promise I will write more about my experience attending the StartingBloc fellowship in Los Angeles at the beginning of march.  I have lots of ideas to share.

At the February meetup the group decided to call the Code for America Pittsburgh chapter (other cities use the term brigade – so you will often see Pittsburgh bridgade) OpenPGH.

The February OpenPGH MeetUp is one of the best events I’ve attended this year.  It was great to see so many folks from many different areas of Pittsburgh come together to talk about how we can use data to make Pittsburgh a better place to live.  Connor Sites-Bowen was one of the presenters and shared some fascinating data and maps about hunger in Western, PA.  I feel like IheartPGH has been hacking together a story of Pittsburgh and it was exciting to brain storm with other people on how to use websites and apps to hack a better city.  I left the February MeetUp and said to a friend – what sort of job will pay me to be a full time civic hacker. [If anyone has any ideas on who might hire me as a civic hacker - please let me know. :)]

English: Code for America Logo

What is Code for America?

From the Code for America about page:

Code for America is a 501(c)3 non-profit that envisions a government by the people, for the people, that works in the 21st century.

Our programs change how we participate in government by:

  • Connecting citizens and governments to design better services,
  • Encouraging low-risk settings for innovation; and,
  • Supporting a competitive civic tech marketplace.

Bringing Code for America to Pittsburgh

There are several ways that Pittsburgh has been working towards more open data and civic hacking in the past year.

  • Last summer, Pittsburgh along with many other cities participated in the national day of civic hacking.
  • Mayor Bill Peduto has hired Laura Meixell, a Code for America fellow to work in his office.  You can read more about Laura and the projects she’s started working on here.
  • Pittsburgh has passed an open data policy.  Check out this blog post from the Sunlight Foundation for details on how Pittsburgh’s open data policy is different from other cities.

OpenPGH March MeetUp

open-pgh-logoWednesday, March 26th is the next meetup for OpenPGH.  The OpenPGH group meets every month at a different location.

Facebook event for the OpenPGH March MeetUp

Agenda for March MeetUp:

  1. Welcome and introductions 5 minutes
  2. Host’s welcome / presentation (Kostas Pelechrinis, Pitt Information Sciences) 10-15 minutes
  3. Quick updates (City legislation, state advocacy) 5 minutes
  4. Allegheny County GIS (Matt Mercurio, GIS manager) 15-20 minutes
  5. County election data – (Brady Hunsaker) 10-15 minutes
  6. Visual survey toolkit demo using LocalData (GTECH) 10-15 minutes
  7. Participant survey results 5 minutes
  8. Project ideas / open discussion / “planning party” ideas

OpenPGH and Open Data Links & Resources

Website Links:

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Lindsay About Lindsay

Lindsay has been writing about Pittsburgh for as long as she has been blogging - but fortunately there are lots of great things about Pittsburgh to share. She likes pretzels from the Pretzel Shop on Carson St., used book stores, her rollerblades and she hopes to learn to skateboard someday soon. Lindsay is also working on BlogLocal which is building a map of blogs with local content.

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