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Meet John Doe: Code for Rockford making sense out of local data

May 15, 2014

WEB_Paul-Gorski-2014By Paul Gorski

EIGERlab (http://www.eigerlab.org/) established an “Information Technology Roundtable and Code for Rockford” group last year to bring technologists and average residents who share the goal of knowing more about their community and are willing to work together to solve the problems of how to display that data. Example: a similar group in Chicago created a website, http://chicagoflushots.org, to display a map of where to go for local flu shots.

The group also works to attract more professionals, build a larger network of technology professionals, and give employers a tool for finding local technology talent. I am sure I have missed something in stating the group’s core goals, but I think that sums it up nicely.

The focus is also on open government. That said, civic leaders, residents and technologists are invited to the monthly OpenData Hack Session, June 14 at EIGERlab. Register at: http://www.codeforrockford.com/about/open-data-coding-challenge/. The OpenData Hack Session “is for those who want to: get work done on civic projects; start a new project or find one to join; bounce ideas and get help from tech and gov experts; and learn about open data, smart cities, and open government.” You do not have to be a geek to attend. You may also follow the group’s meeting schedule at the Code for Rockford meetup.com group: http://www.meetup.com/Code-for-Rockford.

In the spirit of open data, I have developed a few dashboard-type websites designed to display a variety of local information. One such site, http://www.rockfordweathernews.com, pulls together local weather news, school closing notices and weather-related traffic information from local and national sources on all one site. My personal weather channel. While not much to look at, it does offer a nice-looking Rock River Times logo, with a link back here if you want a full-featured news site.

Other communities are creating some very interesting websites and mobile apps to monitor trends and activities in their local areas. Again, you do not need to be a technology person to participate. You can contribute by bouncing ideas off others, possibly serving as the inspiration for the next great Code for Rockford success. Visit Code for Rockford at: http://www.codeforrockford.com/.

Thank you to Jon Weber for inspiring me to write this article.

Paul Gorski (paul@paulgorski.com) is Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.

Posted May 15, 2014

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