Chattanooga was announced as one of 10 finalists to be a Code for America (CFA) Fellowship City. Earlier this summer, the Berke administration partnered with Open Chattanooga to apply for the fellowship for the upcoming year. Since 2009, CFA has successfully paired leaders in innovation with local governments, using technology to promote openness and transparency, encourage participation, and solve problems in cities across the country.
“This opportunity validates our place in the ever-growing world of technology. But, more importantly, it ultimately makes local government more open, accessible, and innovative,” said Mayor Andy Berke.
The CFA Fellowship initiative is an 11-month opportunity that pairs city government with the country’s top developers, designers, researchers, and product managers. Together, CFA and local governments produce open-source web apps to improve city services.
The City of Chattanooga has currently raised $250,000 in private funds from the Benwood Foundation and Lyndhurst Foundation. Several more private companies have expressed an interest in contributing to the project, including both through in-kind and monetary contributions. The Chattanooga City Council will vote on authorization for the City of Chattanooga to fund an additional $180,000 if chosen as a CFA Fellowship City.
“Initiatives like Code for America illustrate the new world of public service. By taking the brightest tech minds and focusing them on community issues, we will foster collaboration and creative problem solving in Chattanooga,” said Sarah Morgan, president of the Benwood Foundation.
If chosen for participation, CFA will also help build a relationship between City Hall and Chattanooga’s local technology talent.
“Chattanooga’s emergence as a technologically advanced city can only be accelerated by the Code for America community. Bringing together developers to identify and solve civic needs will be a huge help and will also promote civic engagement on a whole new level,” said Bill Brock, managing director of Engage3D, a local technology organization. “I am personally very grateful and excited about our hometown having the opportunity to join the Code for America network.”
Over 100 cities across the country apply each year, with typically 6 to 8 cities chosen to participate. Past CFA Fellowship Cities include Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans.
If Chattanooga is chosen, CFA will provide at least three fellows for a year, beginning in January 2014. city staff and local developers will work with these fellows to develop and test open-source web apps to improve city services and the community around two of the city’s key priorities – safer streets and civic engagement.
In addition, the fellowship will improve the City of Chattanooga’s internal processes, including the procurement process, by teaching city departments, including Information Systems and General Services, the skills to develop and decide the most effective solutions, at the best value to taxpayers.
The final communities chosen as CFA Fellowship Cities for 2014 will be announced in October.