National Day 2015: Wrap-up

This year we hosted our third, and without a doubt our best National Day of Civic Hacking event. We had more of a diversity of projects, more participation and partnerships with other groups, and more support from the city gov. than ever before. The day was truly a celebration of the type of work that we’re doing in Tulsa. Previous years were about the potential for the group to collaborate and create change: this year we’re starting to see potential being turned in to real action.

Before the weekend.
A lot of preparation went in to this event, as with all of our events. Before NDoCH weekend, we met for several months with the newly-revived Open Data Steering Committee. The committee is made up of members of Code for Tulsa, as well as the city IT department and several other groups within City Hall (GIS folks, MAAPS, communications, etc.). Begun in 2013 to support the city’s open data policy, the committee works with city departments to publish their data in open formats, and makes recommendations to the mayor and city council on creating more open data sets as well as ensuring the data that’s published is secure, accessible, and published in the best format.

The IT department has been working hard on publishing new data sets, and at NDoCH we were able to announce some new sets of data, many of them related to planning, zoning, land use, historic preservation.

We also met with the Tulsa City Council, giving our 2nd update of the year. Additionally, we met with the head of every department at city hall, at the mayor’s office. We were able to give the mayor an overview of the projects we’re working on, and had a great discussion about where we are, and where we’re going, with open data in Tulsa.

All of that activity led to some great coverage in the Tulsa World, of the recent work we’ve been doing.

Projects we worked on.

The main event of the day ended up being completely unexpected. We received a surprise visit, and a surprise presentation, by Julianna Monnot, the Stormwater Education Coordinator for the City of Tulsa. Julianna showed the city’s current watershed map, and discussed how the Streets & Storm Water Department collects data on water quality, what their relationship is with the EPA and other area organizations. We learned more about Crow Creek, and talked about a couple ways our group could pitch-in with organizations such as the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and Blue Thumb, to help revitalization efforts.

1. We would like to continue to collaborate with Streets & Storm Water Department and help mapping outdated infrastructures.

2. We’ve come up with an idea to create a nutrient pollution measurement kit. Inspired by the open water project, we’d like to create some sort of tool that is able to measure levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.

2015-06-06 10.27.17

Patrick worked on twittering birds. Should be interesting to see if this gains any traction in Tulsa. There are certainly a good number of nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers in town.

The last two hours of the day were probably the most exciting. Inspired both by recent news & community discussion about putting, “water in the river” (a simplified political phrase of a $300M proposal to repair infrastructure and create new dams along the Arkansas River) and by an email written by a local engineer regarding monitoring of the river and of Keystone dam, a few volunteers built: http://istherewaterintheriver.com/

The website uses three data sources:

1. USGS stream gauge located at the I-244 bridge

2. Reported water releases from Keystone

3. Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA) Generation Schedules

to predict whether there will be water visible, in the river, in Tulsa. The intent is, if someone were to want to run or bike along the river, they might want to see if they can expect a pleasant view while in Riverparks. Check out the Github repository, here.

Coming soon.
We couldn’t talk about it for legal reasons, but OpportunitySpace is coming to Tulsa. Suffice to say that it’s awesome, and when we can say more about it, we will. Watch this space for more, etc.

In addition, we’re excited about the city’s newly published data sets. These are about 1/2 of what we need to make http://zoningcases.com/ a reality. Next, we will need to collaborate with INCOG on making their pending cases database machine-readable. So we’ll be working on that in the weeks and months to come. A great goal would be to be able to say that it’s a working website, by the time National Summit comes around again at the end of Sept.

TulsaNow Discussion.
In addition to great projects, we had a great panel discussion, hosted by TulsaNow. Coming around full-circle to the idea of civic tech being a reality and not just a good idea with good potential, we talked with Jamie Jamieson, head of the city’s Transportation Advisory Board, as well as Daniel Jeffries with INCOG and local developer Jonathan Belzley. We talked about some practical ways that Code for Tulsa and city gov. could collaborate further, building on our current momentum. We talked about some basics of land use, zoning, and planning, and why these topics are important in relation to civic tech (one interesting idea was that of the city’s new zoning code as the operating system of Tulsa). We also talked about introducing tools such as StreetMix and MapBox to neighborhood meetings as a way to increase civic engagement and capture good ideas for small area planning.

All in all a wonderful day! Thanks to our community organizer Luke Crouch for wrangling food, tables, and working out all the logistics of the day. Thanks to our core leaders for all the prep-work, meetings, PR, and connecting dots. HUGE thanks to the Fly Loft! And thanks to everyone who came to speak, to connect, and to help us work on awesome projects.

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