I’m excited to announce that the Midwest has been selected for the first Code for America Brigade region. The Midwest Regional Brigade program will support existing Code for America brigade cities as well as work to expand the number of Brigade cities in the region. I’m also excited to announce that Code for America has signed with CivicWhitaker to help manage the new program.
The Code for America Brigade program is an international network of people committed to using their voices and hands, in collaboration with local governments, to make their cities better. The Code for America Brigade began in late 2012 with just sixteen cities. I’ve been tremendously proud to be part of the rapid growth of the Brigade program. To give you a sense of how much the program has grown, here’s a picture of the first captain’s class.
And here we are today…
The Code for America Brigade is now active in 35 cities and has organizers in 54 cities including chapters in Poland, Japan, and Ireland. A new Code for America Brigade was recently launched in Rockford, Illinois as a direct result of Smart Chicago’s work with the Illinois OpenTech Challenge.
With the Code for America Brigade expanding at a rapid pace, it became apparent that there needed to be additional coordination in order to effectively manage the Brigade program.
At the last Code for America Summit in October, the idea of having regional Brigades was proposed. After months of collaboration, the Midwest was chosen as the pilot region with it’s headquarters as the Smart Chicago Collaborative. The Midwest has several advantages in terms of potential for civic innovation. Many Midwestern cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Gary, and Madison, have implemented open data policies and have open data portals already up and running.
Additionally, there have been countless civic apps that have originated from the Midwest cities. From small volunteer apps like the Flu Shot Finder to civic startups like LocalData, the Midwest has a large number of civic technologists working to use the data opened up by cities to improve the lives of residents. The civic innovation in Chicago is particularly strong with the OpenGovHackNights serving as a model for the rest of the Brigade and events like the OpenGov Chicago meetups being one of the largest attended civic hacking events in the country.
I’m excited to play a part in helping expand civic innovation in the Midwest. If you have questions about the new program, feel free to reach out to us at Midwest@Codeforamerica.org