- Yesterday, the Seattle Trails Alliance released a new app for iOS called Seattle Trails. The app, which got its start at the AT&T Mobile Parks & Rec Hackathon back in March, shows precise locations of trails in Seattle Parks as well as what kind of trail they are–gravel, bridge, paved, trail–and allows users to give feedback directly in the app. The app was developed by volunteers led by Eric Mentele, Theodore Abshire, and David Wolgemuth, with support from Seattle Parks Trails Manager Chukundi Salisbury. Thanks to volunteer Craig Morrison, an Android version is also in development. Ironically, on my way to the event yesterday, I followed Google Maps rather than the Seattle Trails app and found myself at a private “trailhead” I would have had to spend hours bushwhacking to get up to the real trailhead for the St. Mark’s Greenbelt. Next time, I’ll use the app! You can download it here.
- Rebekah Bastian, VP of Product at Zillow, wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post, “How Tech Communities Can Create Social Change.” She shares the steps she took to learn about homelessness before designing a solution and then highlights the Community Pillar program that emerged, through which 20,000 landlords and property managers have signed up to rent to people who might not otherwise find housing in the Seattle market. “We in the tech community have a unique opportunity to use our skills, resources and passion to create change,” she writes. “And with that opportunity comes responsibility – responsibility to better the communities that are supporting our growth.”
- In “Seattle’s Virtual Road to Transcendence,” Seattle Weekly explores how our city’s VR/AR developers are breaking ground by going beyond traditional gaming to applications of virtual and augmented reality with potential to “radically transform psychology, medicine, therapy, education, policy-making, social and environmental justice, storytelling, and, ultimately, the limits of human consciousness and perception.”
- Last weekend, at Zoohackathon at the Woodland Park Zoo, hackers took on various challenges related to wildlife trafficking, including product identification, fundraising for conservation organizations, gaming to raise public awareness of the issue, and, for the winning app, using crowdsourced data to identify the reasons for loss of orangutan habitat. As part of the event, hackers got to meet several of the Zoo’s “animal ambassadors,” experience a night tour, and attend Brew at the Zoo. This was the first global Zoohackathon, with six cities around the world participating. Check out the pre-event story on NPR and summaries in GeekWire and the Zoo’s blog.
- The City of Naperville, IL is inviting public comment on its proposed open data policy via the Madison platform.
- On October 6, Georgetown University hosted “Data for Social Good: Innovation in the next administration,” a look back at innovation under President Obama and a look forward to what the federal government can do next.
- Huge new datasets from the World Bank, showing project are now available via the International Aid Transparency Initiative.
- Civic tech firm CityWorks just raised $14.5 million.
- The U.S. Geological Survey published an interactive map that shows the impact of Hurricane Matthew on precipitation and streams, all based on open government data.
- MojePanstwo.pl (“My Country” in Polish) is a unique kind of open data portal that makes data – from public tenders to laws to survey results – incredibly easy to access. Some functionality is available in English. You can read more about it, and the new public procurement application they recently launched, here.
- Civic technology is breaking out of the GovTech world: TechCrunch published “Creating a New Architecture of Government through Tech and Innovation,” a summary of more than 50 interviews conducted by Harvard’s Hollie Gilman and Georgetown’s Jessica Gover. They conclude: “Building a twenty-first-century government requires a governance structure that enables an internal ecosystem of innovation that invests in technology, better use of data, and partnerships that can measure and deliver results.” Their full report, “The Architecture of Innovation: Institutionalizing Innovation in Federal Policymaking” (launched at the Oct 6 event mentioned above), is well worth a read.
- The Center for Open Data Enterprise published a new report based on a series of roundtables organized by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy earlier this year. The report addresses key issues in open data, including privacy, data quality, sharing research data, and public-private collaboration. Read the full report or check out this summary in the Huffington Post.
- This is a must-listen rather than a must-read. In “Blame Game,” episode 8 of the Revisionist History podcast, Malcolm Gladwell breaks down the Toyota “sudden acceleration” scandal that resulted in the recall of 10 million vehicles due to mistrust of the cars’ technology. Spoiler alert: The technology was not to blame. The story has insights for consumers as well as policymakers struggling to understand how technology works and how to ensure it serves the public interest.
On the horizon
- The guest editor for the November issue of WIRED is none other than President Barack Obama. Check out what he has to say about AI, read the Administration’s full report, or see this summary in TechCrunch.
Events with official City involvement:
- October 13, 12:00 pm @ Impact Hub Seattle: Civic Tech Lunch Hour – Open Data, Race, and Social Justice in Seattle
Community events with a civic tech component:
- October 14 and 21, 4:00 pm: Microsoft Civic Tech Happy Hour @ Impact Hub Seattle, 220 Second Ave (weekly, every Thursday)
- October 14-16: Seattle GiveCamp
- October 15-16: DubHacks (students only)
- November 4-6: Kirkland Smart City Startup Weekend
- November 1-3: Code for America Summit (in Oakland)
- November 5: Lady Problems Hackathon
- November 9: Open Seattle OpenIDEO Chapter Launch
If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.