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Yes, Open Data Day Exists, and There Are Civic Hacking Events to Celebrate It

Yes, Open Data Day Exists, and There Are Civic Hacking Events to Celebrate It
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Accela has been barnstorming big cities in recent weeks, attending civic tech and open data events. Here’s a recap of several events that Accela has helped support in the first part of 2016. New York City School of Data New York City School of Data was held on international Open Data Day , joining New York with cities across the country and around the world to celebrate open data. The event also helped to commemorate the adoption of the city’s open data law. Over 260 people attended the event, which also included strong representation from young people and students that attending talks to learn about open data and getting involved with improving their neighborhoods. Accela was a sponsor of the event and I teamed up with City Councilperson Ben Kallos for a presentation on open source software, open data and open data standards . Philadelphia Democracy Hackathon In Philadelphia, an...
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Reflections and Predictions: How 2015 Successes Position Us to Capitalize on the Year Ahead

Reflections and Predictions: How 2015 Successes Position Us to Capitalize on the Year Ahead
Without a doubt, 2015 was Accela’s biggest year to date. In February, we announced new funding — bringing us just north of $233 million invested in the business. We’re using the latest round to continue growing the Accela family through acquisitions and partnerships, while investing in building an even stronger Civic Platform. Building on six announced acquisitions in 2014 ( Decade Software , Government Outreach , Kinsail , Envista , IQM2 , GeoTMS ), we established our productivity and civic engagement platform as unparalleled in the industry, adding Springbrook Software , SoftRight and PublicStuff in Spring 2015. We’re now laser-focused on efficiently integrating these stellar technologies into the core infrastructure of the Accela Civic Platform. In October, we proudly released Civic Platform 8.0 , offering a responsive and carefully crafted user interface that reinvents the way government workers interact with residents and meet their daily goals. In 2015, Accela’s customer...
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2015: The Year in Building Permits

2015: The Year in Building Permits
2015 was a big year for building permits. This year, Accela led a coalition of civic technology companies and other stakeholders in the development of the first ever shared data specification for building permit data . This new standard is being implemented in cities across the country and will provide new and powerful insights into the operation of cities and the changing character of communities. To demonstrate the power of this new standard, we’re updating our year-end building permit review web app from last year to showcase four jurisdictions that are now publishing data in the new Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS) format. You can view our updated building permit review application here . This is a remarkably simple application – built with open source components and hosted on GitHub . But it provides some useful insights into the permitting activities of these four jurisdictions. For example, while permit...
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Environmental Health Is a Contact Sport

Environmental Health Is a Contact Sport
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Environmental Health leaders and practitioners convened in Orlando this month to fortify core practices and study emerging public health matters during the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA)'s Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition. Each year, for nearly twenty years, I attend and often bring a new staff member to get a flavor of environmental health and to internalize its mission. NEHA's new charismatic Executive Director, Dr. David Dyjack , made a splash with his keynote address. Taking a posture reminiscent of President Roosevelt's fireside chats, Dr. Dyjack introduced himself and called upon NEHA leaders, members and staff to embrace a three-point strategy, which included activating environmental health professionals, demanding a seat at the table where EH policy is made and executing on a global scale. Dr. David Dyjack, NEHA’s new Executive Director, delivering the keynote. In phrasing that was emblematic of the conference vibe, he asserted, "Environmental Health is a contact...
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Announcing BLDS 1.0

Announcing BLDS 1.0
In May, I described a months-long process that was focused on the development of a new building permit data standard called the Building and Land Development Specification (BLDS, pronounced “builds”). When we discussed our work in helping to develop this standard, we made specific note of the importance of building permit data: “A shared standard for building permit data that can be adopted by multiple governments will help foster the development of new solutions that can be shared between jurisdictions. It will allow for analysis across jurisdictions, helping to highlight what works well and what doesn't. And, most importantly, it can help foster a better understanding of the permit process — which can have a direct impact on the neighborhoods we live in — by ensuring a common vocabulary for important events and activities.” Last week, we announced the  release of BLDS version 1.0 , which means that the standard...
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Civic Innovation in the Triangle

Civic Innovation in the Triangle
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This past weekend, a CityCamp unconference and hackathon were held in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Long known as a home for technology innovators, the area has hosted a CityCamp event for the last five years, and the event is now marketed statewide. I had the privilege to present as a keynote speaker at this year's event and to attend the weekend hackathon. CityCamp NC is an "unconference," where attendees collaboratively decide on the agenda for the event in a brainstorming session that takes place shortly after the event begins. CityCamp NC was also complemented by some planned sessions run by APPCityLife (an Accela Development partner) and Girl Develop It . A full house at Girl Develop It RDU's training session at CityCamp NC. In addition, a panel discussion kicked off the event where innovative uses of geospatial data by municipal governments in the state were showcased. Accela...
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