Code for America announces race for reuse winners


Code for America Brigade has announced the end of its Race for Reuse competition which redeployed 31 open source apps in 28 cities throughout the United States. The Race for Reuse was launched in October in an effort to promote some of the best municipal and civic engagement apps already in use and stand them up so they could be deployed in multiple cities. One of the most early examples of this is the adopt-a-hydrant app which asks citizens to adopt hydrants if they are near their homes or workplaces and ensure they are clean and clear for ready use. Now, through the Race for Reuse, more apps may find themselves replicated in the same way across the globe.

The most popular app in the in Race for Reuse was LocalWiki, an app that allows residents to create a comprehensive catalogue of their city: restaurants, hiking path, arcades, etc. The app was deployed in 10 cities, with total of 2,009 new content pages created by 419 new contributors. According to Code for America, LocalWiki was originally the brainchild of developers in Toledo,Ohio who created ToledoWiki. Adopt-a-hydrant, was originally birthed in Anchorage, Alaska.

Both apps were awarded the grand prize in the competition. The prize for each will be a block party and a year of free hosting for the app. Participating groups most frequently cited that the app addressed a real need in their city, as the reason for joining the competition and deploying an app.

Instead of a focus on building new technology, CfA challenged Brigades and civic hackers everywhere to deploy one of four open source, civic engagement apps, by Election Day. Then, teams were challenged get as many people using the apps as possible, by December 8.

“Race for Reuse showcases the civic participation we envision at Code for America where civic-minded technologists create tools and processes that reengineer the way that all citizens think about their role in their community,” said Brigade Director Kevin Curry.

Code for America Brigade is program within the Code for America group of programs, focused on getting hackers and activists within communities to leverage technology in actionable ways. Code for America was first known for its fellowship program which sends technologists to cities after a competitive application process to help them solve municipal issues through practical application of technology. The organization also has an accelerator program which supports civic oriented startups, providing them with mentorship and material support to get them up and running.

Other popular apps included B’MORE Pipeline, from Baltimore which uses the LocalWiki concept to provide a link between the local tech business community and students in an effort to train and educate the next generation of workers. Adopt-a-Shelter, a modified take on Adopt-a-Hydrant, out of North Carolina, asks locals to adopt their nearest bus shelter in order to help the city keep them maintained. A full run down of all award winners with pictures is on the Code for America blog.

“It’s pretty simple why we Race for Reuse; we get a lot of snow and time is of the essence when it comes to fires, “ said Alan Palazzolo of Open Twin Cities, which stood up Adopt-a-Hydrant. “Adopt-a-Hydrant is a small application to help incentivize citizens to take care of the extremely important and life saving infrastructure that is a fire hydrant. Every little bit helps.”