‘Code for America’ enters second year in Philly

For the second year in a row, Philadelphia will have a computer geek squad on call. Philly is the only city to host the “Code for America” program two years running.

Code for America works like City Year. A group of young idealists — in this case, idealists who can write computer code — offer their services up to a city to complete projects. Last year, the group of seven created Change by Us, a do-gooder crowd-sourcing tool, and a searchable database of issues City Council is working on.

Aaron Ogle created a transit tool that doesn’t just tell you the best route to get somewhere, it tells you what’s the best mode of transit – listing taxi fare alongside bus fare and walking time.

“What we really wanted to do was take the start-up culture that has really made San Francisco and Silicon Valley really successful: trying to see a problem, looking at it [and] instead of taking a really long time to spec out a very perfect solution, let’s just start experimenting with it and see what we can do and what comes out of it.”

Ogle said because his cohort only had a year, they had to take on smaller, manageable projects — no overhauling the city’s tax software. However, Ogle said the city of Philadelphia was so enthusiastic about the projects his group did complete that Philly became the one city to apply for a second term.

A team of fresh faces start work this month. They will travel throughout the year between Philadelphia and San Francisco.

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