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BlockCamp: Where Better Blocks Meet Open Source Government

The Better Block projects have allowed us to look at redevelopment of our community at the block level using the community’s knowledge base and activism in a way that provide the best solutions for the local neighorhood. From the outset, we noticed the need to have better historic data on the community so that we could show the project’s impact on everything from traffic speeds and walk/bike ridership increases, to economic impact and environmental changes.

Ean Schuessler, Right

In our second Better Block we partnered with Ean Schussler of BrainFood to create a readout of existing bus locations, time of arrival, and final destination information for a single bus stop at Edgefield and Davis.  The application was built using DART’s existing “Where’s my Bus?” application, but distilled the information so it would be more easily accessible at the local stop level. This began the conversation of creating more tie-ins with our work to civic application development. Cities across the nation have been adopting programs like Open311 which can provide a bridge for social media and 311 services that allow residents to upload images of problems like broken streetlights, potholes, and graffiti, which then provide a platform for these issues to be tracked and managed online. In 2005, Portland’s transit authority (TriMet) led the opengov charge by opening it’s bus and rail data to the public. Since that time, 30+ applications have been developed by the tech community which have made life easier for residents needing to navigate the city. Last year, NYC launched its BigApps competition, and San Francisco has now created a government data clearinghouse site called DataSF which has begun opening up the possibilities for civic application development.

So with this in mind, we’re now developing BlockCamp…an initative that will tie in our Better Block project with civic application development. Our first event will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 19th at Eno’s (upstairs), where we’re inviting all tech guys and gals who are interested in civic application development and open government to beer and pizza and conversation on how we can build a better Dallas. It’s open to all…click here to view the Facebook event and hope to see you all there.

View the video below to see a presentation Ean made in Brazil on Open Source for America: [youtube=]

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