When Macon was chosen last fall as a Code for America city (by far the smallest of those selected), I was intrigued about what the fellows could accomplish here. Ten months and some practical, replicable applications later, I have no doubt.
The apps are just what we need, but the real impact that fellows had is the change in attitude they brought to local government. For example, a map-based site shows how special local option sales tax dollars are spent on individual infrastructure projects. A new online map for Macon's Transity agency shows expected bus arrival times and routes. Code for America calls itself “Teach for America for Geeks,” and local government isn’t really known for having a lot of geeks. However, because our fellows - Jessica, Nick and Zach - were young, smart, and energetic and just wanted to help us enter the digital age, they were very successful.
The Mayor, Council members, senior administrative staff and (most) department heads were receptive and now the City of Macon staff understands how technology can build efficient, effective government while connecting citizens to their elected officials and to each other.
We will miss our Code for America fellows and will always be grateful for the new viewpoints about technology and open government. We see the world differently now. We’ll never be geeks, but we better understand the power of technology to build a 21st century government.
By Beverly Blake, program director/Macon at Knight Foundation
Related: "Macon It Happen" by 2012 Macon fellow Zach Williams