Connecting civic change agents

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Six forward-thinking city authorities across Europe are currently working with talented data technologists and designers to leverage technology to innovate their services. The Code for Europe ‘Fellows’, based in Manchester, Berlin, Amsterdam, Helsinki, Barcelona and Rome, are all starting to map out digital solutions to key challenges the cities have set them. These range from maximizing use of city-owned buildings and spaces, to creating digital tools for museums and heritage and building new applications for use of public transport in the cities.

We know that innovation is accelerated by the exchange of ideas, solutions, best practice, even software code, so network development to share practice is high on the agenda of Code for Europe. The Fellows met in Barcelona in January just as their placements started to explore connections between projects and meet regularly to share solutions in development. From 4-6 March 2013, we’ll host them at Nesta for two and a half days of meeting open data entrepreneurs from the UK, including mySociety and Mudlark, connecting with those championing open civic solutions at Civic Commons and Code for Africa, and sharing advice, ideas and code with one another in shaping up city projects.  We’re also taking a site visit to the Open Data Institute – a new UK-based company which is catalysing the evolution of open data culture to create economic, environmental, and social value.

Key to the conversations we’ll be having is the question of how we can accelerate the ideas being generated and the network across these six cities so that we can create a connected community in Europe and beyond for city leaders and technologists who believe in the power of tech for social good. Pockets of great work are happening around the world – a host of ‘Code for…’ initiatives which build on the movement started by Code for America now exist in countries from South America to Africa, and we’re successfully starting to sync platforms which showcase and encourage reuse of digital applications through of sites which have emerged using the Civic Commons tools.

I hope through the workshop at Nesta even more connections emerge. 

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