2012

Annual Report

What would society look like

if we felt about our government

the way we feel about

our smartphones?

What if interfaces

to government were simple,

beautiful, and easy to use?

What if we offered government

not just our voices,

but also our hands?

Code for America envisions

a government by the people,

for the people, that works

in the 21st century.

A call to service.

Twenty-first century government needs 21st century thinking and skills.

Coders and designers want to make a difference. Leaders in local governments want to innovate. The Code for America Fellowship brings these two groups together for a structured year of building apps, piloting user-centered design and lean startup techniques.

The success of the Fellowship is measured not in lines of code, but in sustainable, meaningful change. It's about proving that government can move at the speed of citizens, can speak the language of citizens, and can cost what citizens are willing to pay.

Click on a city to see more

boston

Creating simplified interfaces to the public school system.

City Partners

  • Bill Oats
  • Chris Osgood
  • Dana Conroy
  • Melissa Dodd
  • Nigel Jacob
  • Patricia Boyle-McKenna
Fellows

 
Projects

  • Adopt-a-Hydrant
  • ClassTalk
  • DataCouch
  • DataWorks
  • Discover BPS
  • Lunch Roulette
  • Open211
  • Technofinder
  • Where's My School Bus?

Philadelphia

Helping citizens to organize and take action in their community.

City Partners

  • Alan Frank
  • Andrew Buss
  • Desiree Peterkin-Bell
  • Jeff Friedman
Fellows

 
Projects

  • Change By Us
  • CouncilMatic
  • MuralApp/Public Art Finder
  • Open311 Dashboard
  • PHL API
  • ReRoute.it
  • Septa.mobi

Seattle

Organizing and promoting neighborhood and community group information.

City Partners

  • Amy Hirotaka
  • Bill Schrier
  • Bruce Blood
  • Julie O'Brien
Fellows

 
Projects

  • CityGroups
  • Iconathon

Civic Commons

Creating a commons for civic software information exchange.

Partners

  • OpenPlans
Fellows

 
Projects

  • Civic Commons Marketplace (now CfA Commons)
  • Procurement Legal Guide
  • SnapFresh

Austin

Preparing residents for the whims of mother nature.

City Partners

  • Doug Matthews
  • Mateo Esquibel
Fellows

 
Projects

  • ATX Floods
  • Prepared.ly
  • Sheltr
  • Stray Mapper

Chicago

Experimenting with different methods of viewing, tracking, and analyzing 311 requests.

City Partners

  • Audrey Mathis
  • Daniel X. O'Neil
  • Danielle DuMere
  • John Tolva
Fellows

 
Projects

  • 311.FM
  • 311 Labs
  • 311 Service Tracker
  • Open311 API Documentation
  • Open311 Status
  • Super Mayor Emanuel
  • The Daily Brief

Detroit

Creating tools to support the work of community groups and associations, and providing more residents with access to transit information.

City Partners

  • Karla Henderson
Fellows

 
Projects

  • LocalData
  • Text My Bus

Honolulu

Creating a citizen-centric interface to the City that’s written by the residents for the residents.

City Partners

  • Bruce Gordon
  • Forrest Frizzell
Fellows

 
Projects

  • Adopt-a-Siren
  • data.honolulu.gov
  • Honolulu Answers
  • Public Art Finder
  • Route View
  • The Social City

Macon

Making it easy to create data visualizations and find transit routes.

City Partners

  • Amanda Deaton
Fellows

 
Projects

  • Macon Transit Map
  • SPLOST/See Penny Work

New Orleans

Helping residents understand the status of blighted and abandoned properties.

City Partners

  • Allen Square
  • Denise Ross
Fellows

 
Projects

  • BlightStatus
  • Doc2Soc
  • Nola Ready Branding Campaign

Philadelphia

Bridging the digital divide and bringing more representative feedback to city planning.

City Partners

  • Desiree Peterkin-Bell
  • Jeff Friedman
  • Story Bellows
Fellows

 
Projects

  • Cityhow
  • Neighborhow
  • Textizen

Santa Cruz

Finding new ways to tackle economic development and encourage new businesses to set up shop in town.

City Partners

  • Peter Koht
Fellows

 
Projects

  • Bike Lockers
  • Blockee
  • City Hall Map
  • OpenCounter
  • Open Data

Why do local governments
work with Code for America?

What's it like to spend a year
coding for America?

Amir Reavis-Bey

Amir Reavis-Bey spent more than seven years working as an investment banking technologist in New York City, developing an expertise in systems integration. As a Fellow he helped the City of New Orleans address the chronic issue of blighted and abandoned properties. At the end of their Fellowship year, Amir and the New Orleans team founded a company to offer BlightStatus to other cities. As co-founder of Civic Industries, he’s now part of a new wave of technology startups that are helping government provide higher value to citizens at a far lower cost.

Ruthie BenDor

Ruthie BenDor is a front-end developer and designer who worked for GLAD and MassEquality and founded a 100+ member user group for the ExpressionEngine CMS. As a Fellow, Ruthie and the Santa Cruz, Calif. team collaborated closely with Economic Development Coordinator Peter Koht to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start local businesses. The resulting tool, OpenCounter, walks an aspiring small business owner through the complicated zoning codes, forms, and fees needed to apply for a business permit – and enables them to apply directly online. Ruthie's now a design technologist at fuseproject.

Jesse Bounds

Jesse Bounds is a software engineer with a decade of experience, including leading the development of Fluent, the first highly optimized news aggregator and reader for the iPhone. As a Fellow on the Chicago team, he built tools to help cities make service requests – like broken streetlights or potholes – easier to manage and understand. Now Chicagoans can go to 311 ServiceTracker and see the status of their requests throughout the process, as easily as they track packages through FedEx. He is now an engineer at Pivotal Labs in San Francisco.

Sheba Najmi

Sheba Najmi was a lead designer for Yahoo!Mail (260+ million users), co-founded a startup, and was a television news anchor in Pakistan. She holds MS and BS degrees in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University. As a Fellow, she combined website analytics data, community participation, and great design to create a new interface to Honololu government that is truly simple, beautiful, and easy to use: Honolulu Answers. She's now an instructor at Girl Develop It.

Fellows

How can code
change the way cities work?

Textizen

Citizen input is essential to the healthy functioning of any democracy, but the Philadelphia City Planning Commission lamented that many residents couldn’t make it to the few in-person meetings the agency could afford to hold, and that those who did often represented only vocal minorities.

The Fellows learned that only 60% of Philadelphia residents have broadband internet at home, but more than 90% have access to mobile phones with text messaging. So the team designed, built, and deployed Textizen, which uses posters and bus shelter ads to solicit hyper-local feedback via SMS. It allows the city to create targeted surveys and collect responses via text message so that traditionally under-represented groups can participate. Other cities have taken note, and now the Fellows are starting a company to meet the demand. So far they've collected more than 14,000 responses on more than 30 surveys, and are working with cities like Boston and Salt Lake City.

Honolulu Answers

CfA’s Honolulu team faced a near-impossible challenge. Nearly everyone they interviewed, inside City Hall as well as outside, wanted a better city website. But with tens of thousands of pages of content owned by dozens of departments, the project was out of scope for a team of three in under a year. Undeterred, the Fellows mined the search logs of Honolulu.gov to find the most common searches, and then tried those top searches in live user testing with residents.

They found that on the existing site people were unable to easily find the answers to basic questions, such as how to get and renew a driver's license. So the team built a simple, beautiful, easy-to-use interface they called Honolulu Answers, and wrote clear, plain language answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions.

Then they tapped the power of the community to help the project grow. Early on a Saturday in July, more than 55 Honolulu residents came together to write answers to dozens more of their top questions. At what may have been the first ever civic “write-a-thon,” this group not only created an invaluable public tool, they also created a community that is taking responsibility for their own access to government information and continues to maintain Honolulu Answers.

311 Service Tracker

Chicago's 311 call center receives nearly four million calls each year, and nearly 40% of these calls are from residents checking on the status of an earlier service request.

The Fellows tackled this problem head on, building 311 Service Tracker, a FedEx like view of every service request submitted to the city. Service Tracker shows all the actions on a given request, across every department involved, in one streamlined interface to enable citizens to view the status of their complaint.

Chicago residents can submit 311 requests by phone or online, and receive real-time notifications via email when their service request is complete. The app reduces citizen wait times and redundancies in the system while increasing transparency and responsiveness.

And more

The Fellowship was just the start.

Real civic innovation requires engaged communities, a healthy marketplace, and a collaborative network for government innovators.

So in 2012, Code for America not only expanded from three Fellowship cities to eight.

We also launched
three new programs.

The Brigade

In times of shrinking budgets and higher demands on government, it is essential to find new ways for local government to operate. Citizens are showing they can take on more responsibility and governments are seeing the community as capacity to help with things such as digging out fire hydrants in the snow, helping shape city plans and designs, and even rewriting government websites.

The Code for America Brigade provides a national platform to help these groups come together, and for others, the tools and resources to start a local chapter in their community. This growing network of civic leaders is working to redefine the notion of citizenship at the local level.

Brigades

16

Brigade Members

1429

Apps deployed

45

Meet a Local Leader

Christopher Whitaker

Christopher Whitaker

Brigade Captain, City of Chicago

As Brigade Captain, Christopher teaches a weekly class on civic hacking at Chicago's Open Gov Hack Nights. When not at Hack Night or reporting on the state of civic hacking in Chicago, Christopher works at Smart Chicago Collaborative on projects like the Chicago User Testing Group, which ensures that the apps being developed by civic hackers are useful to the everyday Chicagoan. Christopher has a master's in public administration from DePaul University and is a veteran of the Iraq War.

Jeffrey Johnson

Brigade Captain, City of San Diego

Jeffrey Johnson got his start with civic hacking two years ago, standing up tools that make county GIS data easier to access. Now as the San Diego Brigade Captain, he hosts weekly events and serves as a public advocate for open government, appearing before the city council and other regional governments. Jeffrey is a software developer with OpenGeo, where he's on the GeoNode team, and lives in San Diego with his young family.

Jeffrey Johnson
Becky Boone

Becky Boone

Race for Reuse Winner,
City of Anchorage

CfA challenged Brigades and civic hackers everywhere to deploy one of four open-source civic apps by Election Day through a national competition called "The Race for Reuse." The results were astounding: 31 civic apps in 28 cities. The winning effort was the redeployment of Adopt-a-Hydrant in Anchorage, Alaska. With the support of Anchorage CIO Lance Ahern (far right), volunteer Becky Boone (middle) led the effort, recruiting citizens to agree to dig out their adopted hydrants when they’re covered in snow. By year's end, 191 of the fire hydrants in Anchorage were adopted by residents.

Brigade captains

The Accelerator

The past few decades have seen lightweight web and mobile technology change the world, but the public sector remains saddled with software that is overly-complex, increasingly expensive, and often broken. And with local governments in fiscal crisis, these outdated systems are breaking the bank.

But there’s a new wave of tech companies who assume that good technology is as easy to use as an iPad — and that you get more for your dollar every year, not less. The Code for America Accelerator finds the most innovative, relevant civic startups building tools for government, and provides them business consulting and mentorship, a broad network of potential investors and customers, and a national platform to raise awareness.

Applicants

235

Companies

7

Accelerator Class 2012

The companies participating in the Accelerator are building businesses by offering governments new technologies that save time and money — and also help them connect with citizens in new ways. The program amplified their reach with mentorship from key players in the tech industry, $25k in seed funding, and the opportunity to share their products with governments nationwide.

These are not just thriving companies, but people with incredible entrepreneurial energy and passion.

“Given heightened attention to government spending, there’s not only the need, but an urgency to engage with new, disruptive startups.”

Aneesh Chopra

Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Meet the companies

The Peer Network

Local governments are changing. Forward-thinking public servants across the country are leveraging technology to innovate the way our cities work — and it’s accelerated by the exchange of ideas, solutions, best practices, and even software code between like-minded leaders. Cities are now appointing Chief Data Officers and Chief Innovation Officers; they are redeploying each other’s apps; and they are working together to take on common policy challenges. This new network of civic leaders is showing that real change is possible from inside city hall.

The Code for America Peer Network is a professional network for local government innovators who share the common goal of taking innovation in their city to the next level. Through the Peer Network, Code for America connects local governments around the country to facilitate collaborative problem-solving, peer learning, and the spread of innovation best practices between cities.

Cities Engaged

37

Policy Changes

16

Open Datasets

837

Meet a Local Change Agent

“I get a thrill out of solving problems — that's what attracted me to public service.”

Allen Square

Chief Information Officer
City of New Orleans

“It's not just the creation of a bunch of apps. It's connecting our citizens with our city.”

Amanda Deaton

Assistant Chief Administrative Officer
City of Macon

“This has been one of the most incredible experiences in my professional career.”

Karla Henderson

Group Executive of Planning and Facilities
City of Detroit

“I think making these relationships at the Code for America Summit carries you through the year, and really leads you to try to be a better civic employee.”

Mateo Esquibel

City Website and Data Portal Manager
City of Austin

In 2012, Code for America went from being an interesting experiment to a proven engine of change. The organization made this transition because of thousands of people like you. You proved that officials at all levels of government are eager for a new playbook, and that some of the brightest talents in technology and design are eager to collaborate with them on it. You proved that interfaces to government can be simple, beautiful, and easy to use, and that they need not cost more than citizens are willing to pay. You proved that where governments lack capacity, the community can be that capacity. You proved that government can work for the people, by the people, in the 21st century.

For all this, thank you.

The two questions I am asked most often are “what can I do to help?” and “how will Code for America scale?” They are the same question. We will scale the way any successful network scales, with some basic protocols and a common purpose to bind us, and the creativity and hard work of every person who finds us and cares enough to make a difference. The movement scales when everyone who believes that government is something that we do together finds a way to contribute, in his or her own way. There are a hundred ways to make a difference, from writing code to unclogging a storm drain in Oakland, Calif., where I live. It's time to get involved.

Here’s to all we can do together in 2013.

Jen's Signature

Jennifer Pahlka

Founder and Executive Director, Code for America

2012 Fellows

  • Alex Pandel
  • Alex Yule
  • Alicia Rouault
  • Amir Reavis-Bay
  • Angel Kittiyachavalit
  • Aurelio Tinio
  • Ben Sheldon
  • Diana Tran
  • Eddie A Tejeda
  • Emily Wright
  • Jesse Bounds
  • Jessica Lord
  • Jim Craner
  • Joe Merante
  • Liz Hunt
  • Matt Hampel
  • Michelle Lee
  • Mick Thompson
  • Nick Doiron
  • Rob Brackett
  • Prashant Singh
  • Ruthie BenDor
  • Serena Wales
  • Sheba Najmi
  • Tamara Shopsin
  • Zach Williams

Staff

  • Abhi Nemani
  • Alex Tran
  • Alissa Black
  • Angel Kittiyachavalit
  • Ashley Meyers
  • Bob Sofman
  • Clementine Breslin
  • Hadley Dynak
  • Hannah Young
  • Jennifer Pahlka
  • Jack Madans
  • Joel Mahoney
  • Kevin Curry
  • Lauren Dyson
  • Lauren Reid
  • Mark Headd
  • Meghan Reilly
  • Michael Santus
  • Mick Thompson
  • Noel Hidalgo
  • Ron Bouganim
  • Ryan Resella
  • Wendy Owen

Board

  • Damian Thorman
  • Eric Ries
  • Jennifer Pahlka
  • John Lilly
  • Nigel Jacob
  • Stacy Donohue
  • Tim O'Reilly

Board Emeritus

  • Andrew Greenhill
  • Andrew McLaughlin
  • Leonard Lin

Interns

  • Anne Rynearson
  • Ariel Charney
  • Hannah Young
  • Joey Cody
  • Phillip Hale
  • Rob Davis
  • Samuel Painter
  • Stephen Finney

Brigade Captains

  • Andrew Jawitz
  • Arthur Grau
  • Burt Lum
  • Chad Foley
  • Chase Southard
  • Chip Rosenthal
  • Chris Alfano
  • Christopher Whitaker
  • Dave Michelson
  • Eddie Tejeda
  • Emma Burnett
  • Harlan Weber
  • Ian Johnson
  • Jason Lally
  • Jason Hibbets
  • Jason Horne
  • Jeffrey Johnson
  • Jonathan Pichot
  • Kevin Curry
  • Lloyd Emelle
  • Michael Evans
  • Michelle Koeth
  • Noel Hidalgo
  • Reid Serozi
  • Scott Barnwell
  • Tracy Viselli

Mentors & Advisors

  • Akash Garg
  • Andrew Hoppin
  • Andrew Parker
  • Ben Berkowitz
  • Bob Richardson
  • Bryce Roberts
  • Cali Tran
  • Carl Tashian
  • Chris Osgood
  • Christian Crumlish
  • Christie George
  • Clay Johnson
  • Cyd Harrell
  • Danese Cooper
  • David Binetti
  • Denise Gershbein
  • DJ Patil
  • Dominic Campbell
  • Gil Penchina
  • Gunnar Hellekson
  • Hilary Hoeber
  • Hillary Hartley
  • Ivan Kirigin
  • Jay Nath
  • Jeff Clavier
  • Jeff Friedman
  • John Lyman
  • John Tolva
  • Jonathan Siegel
  • Kevin Merritt
  • Kip Harkness
  • Lane Becker
  • Manish Shah
  • Marci Harris
  • Micki Krimmel
  • Mike Alfred
  • Parker Thompson
  • Renee DiResta
  • Robert Goldberg
  • Ryan Alfred
  • Stephen Bronstein
  • Steve Ressler
  • Steve Spiker
  • Sumit Agarwal
  • Ted Rheingold
  • Zal Bilimoria

Major Benefactors

2012 Fellowship Match Funders

  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Greater New Orleans Foundation
  • Open Society Institute
  • Chicago Community Trust
  • Barry Swenson Builders
  • City of Capitola
  • City of Scotts Valley
  • City of Watsonville
  • Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County
  • County of Santa Clara
  • County of Santa Cruz
  • Cruzio
  • The Downtown Association
  • Joint Venture Silicon Valley
  • Nextspace
  • Ow Family Properties
  • Redtree Properties
  • University Business Park

$50,000 to $250,000 Donors

  • Blue Host with support of Hari Ravichandran
  • Blue Ridge Foundation
  • The Ron Conway Family
  • EMC Greenplum
  • Esri
  • Freygish Foundation
  • William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Kaphan Foundation
  • Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
  • Paul and Yaffa Maritz
  • Tim O’Reilly

$5,000 to $49,999 Donors

  • Ashoka Foundation
  • Cutts Foundation
  • John Seely Brown
  • Robert Glushko and Pamela Samuelson
  • Gil Elbaz
  • Nick and Leslie Hanauer
  • Markle Foundation
  • Roger McNamee
  • MDC Partners
  • OATV
  • Jennifer Pahlka
  • Gil and Suzanne Penchina
  • Tides Foundation with support of Robert Millis
  • True Ventures
  • Steve Westly

$1,000 to $4,999 Donors

  • Ron Bouganim
  • Art Chang
  • Russell Cox
  • Alan Eustace
  • Max Fram-Schwarz
  • Jascha Franklin-Hodge
  • Mashable
  • Andrew McLaughlin
  • Bijan Sabet
  • Hal Varian
  • Lawrence Wilkinson

Up to $1,000 Donors

  • Connie Adams
  • Strahimir Antolijak
  • Patrick Atwater
  • Sheila Bapat
  • Ryan Barrett
  • John and Michelle Battelle
  • Lane Becker
  • James Bentley
  • Lucy Bernholtz
  • Jake Brewer
  • John Cary
  • Jeff Casimir
  • Scott Chamberlain
  • Alexander Chen
  • Joane Cheng
  • Solon Christensen-Szalanski
  • David Clayton
  • Chris Cocchiaraley
  • Jesse Cooper
  • Joesph Coster
  • Michelle Crawford
  • Jasson Denby
  • Rita Deng
  • Jeffrey Epstein
  • Marie and Brian Fitzpatrick
  • Diane Foster
  • Brooke Ganz
  • Brian Giori
  • Benjamin Goldsmith
  • Lisa Green
  • Andrew Greenhill
  • Skye Guthrie
  • Stephen Hamilton
  • Rebecca Handler
  • Arnold Hansen
  • Anita Hart
  • Natasha Haugnes
  • Clive Henrick
  • Jason Hibbets
  • Roger Huffstetler
  • Sam Hysell
  • Peter Jones
  • Vijay Karunamurthy
  • John Kennan
  • Eugene Kim
  • Rick and Robin Klau
  • Matthew Klein
  • Malcolm Knapp
  • Carl Larsson
  • Jeremy Levine
  • Charlene Li
  • Al Lieb
  • Ricky Lim
  • Jessica Liu
  • Nick Martinelli
  • Richard McMullen
  • Ellen Miller
  • John Musser
  • Sanjai Nath
  • Philip Neustrom
  • Jessica Newhall
  • Ray Nichols
  • Sean O’Connor
  • William Pahlka
  • Andrew Parker
  • Kathryn Pettit
  • Nico Posner
  • Susan Price
  • Alex Ragsdale
  • Ryan Resella
  • Cathleen Rittereiser
  • Barry Roeder
  • Randy Rosso
  • Adam Russ
  • Tim Schwecke
  • Adam Sebolka
  • Jennifer Sein
  • Barbara Sellars
  • Ben Sheldon
  • Jason Shellen
  • John Sichi
  • Delyn Simons
  • Michelle Sites
  • Peter Skomoroch
  • Ted Smith
  • Steve Smoot
  • Christopher Snyder
  • Daniel Suarez
  • Paris Subrizi
  • Nicholas Such
  • Jed Sundwall
  • Dan Suyeyasu
  • Sarah Toton
  • Will Turnage
  • Judy van Soldt
  • Lee Vann
  • David Ward
  • Kate Wing
  • Ryan Wold
  • Jon Wong

In-Kind Contributors

  • Adobe
  • BSD
  • CartoDB
  • Dropbox
  • Heroku
  • KISSmetrics
  • Mapbox
  • Morrison Foerster
  • RedHat Openshift
  • Tropo
  • Twilio
  • Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati

See what others had to say about us this year:

Watch two of Jennifer's public talks:

Expenses


Programs

Fellowship

$2,733,782

Brigade

$286,257

Accelerator

$280,896

Civic Commons & Peer Network

$324,140


Total Programs
$3,625,075
Administration
$226,648
Fundraising
$153,504

Total Expenses

$4,005,227

Revenues


Grants & Donations

Foundation Grants

$2,704,565

Individual Donations

$293,839

Corporate Donations

$636,600



Total
$3,635,004
Program Fees & Other

Government Program Fees

$889,506

Sponsorships

$126,144

Interest Income

$1,946

Miscellaneous

$120,455


Total
$1,138,051

Total Revenues

$4,773,055

Thank you!

Code for America flag tag