2013-02-05_OaklandPresser_0646, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Code for America’s photostream

Code for America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2009 to help cities modernize their operations and take advantage of new technology to increase transparency and accountability and provide new models of citizen engagement. Through the Code for America Fellows program, young programmers and developers are placed within city governments around the country to work directly with the Mayor’s office and the staff of city departments. In addition to the Fellows program, Code for America also provides seed funding to startup tech companies and runs the Code for America Brigade program, which places staff within community organizations to help build their capacity and increase their use of technology. Dozens of cities across the country have taken advantage of this unique program and it’s time for Pittsburgh to become the next Code for America city.

1. Code for Pittsburgh

Many of the changes that I have proposed to bring Pittsburgh city government into the 21st century could be initiated through a partnership with Code for America and the placement of a Code for America Fellow in the Mayor’s office. When elected, I will submit an application to bring the program to Pittsburgh and kickstart our efforts to create the most transparent and accountable city government Pittsburghers have ever seen. From modernizing our 311 system, to opening up city data for public use, to creating online zoning maps to help developers and community groups build out a better Pittsburgh, the technical expertise of Code for America could revolutionize how the city operates.

In addition to applying for a Code for America Fellow for city government, I will work with community groups around the city and encourage them to apply to participate in the Code for America Brigade program. Many of our community groups are staffed mostly by volunteers and having a Code for America Brigade come to Pittsburgh to help them create new tools to further their work would be one of the best ways to build their capacity and take the great work they are doing to the next level.

One of the best ways to change Pittsburgh city government for the better is to get young people involved and Code for America’s Fellows program will allow us to bring in young people from all over the country to look at the way the city operates with fresh eyes and a new perspective. I look forward to working with Code for America to improve city services and give Pittsburghers more for their tax dollars.