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February 2018 Newsletter

Smart Cville promotes the use of technology and data to help communities find innovative solutions by facilitating the exchange of ideas between civic institutions and citizens.

In this issue:

  • Lexington, VA Budget Portal Launch
  • Apply to become a Civic Innovation Day Project Fellow
  • Revitalizing Democracy: Is it Time to Rethink Local Boards and Commissions?
  • Upcoming events: Open Data Deep Dive: Crime Data and Course: Introduction to Mapping Open Data
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Lexington, VA Budget Portal Launch

We're thrilled to announce that the City of Lexington is now working with us to open up its budget and improve transparency.

From CBS WDBJ: "The online budget visualization tool lets you see where every dollar paid in goes in government expense and income. “Citizens can input their taxes and fees and then from there they can click into the different boxes, and it goes deeper and deeper," says the city's Meredith Warfield. "And you can see exactly what your contribution is to, say, the public works department." The program is created by a nonprofit, Smart Cville, which developed it for use in Charlottesville."

We currently support standard instances of this budget visualization for Albemarle County and Lexington (built on open source code) as well as an advanced iteration for the City of Charlottesville. The instances support a basic version open data through the use JSON feeds.
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Apply to become a Civic Innovation Day Project Fellow


At this year's Civic Innovation Day, our challenge groups will be supposed by a CID Project Fellow. Fellows are volunteers who are committed to working with others to tackle a specific challenge in our community. Each fellow will be assigned a challenge that is sponsored by a local government entity. The fellow will then lead a challenge team during the 2018 Civic Innovation Day and encourage continued participation after the event.

Why does it exist?
  • We want to help facilitate discussion and design that is user-centered and problem-oriented.
  • We want to encourage post-event participation and challenge work.
  • We want to foster a cohort of civic innovators who are interested in pursuing tech or data related project that support the community.
Want more info or know someone who should apply?
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Revitalizing Democracy: Is it Time to Rethink Local Boards and Commissions?

Special thanks to UVA Professor of Politics Dr. Carah Ong Whaley who wrote most of this blog post with minor contributions from yours truly. Read the entire post.

"Although obscure to many citizens, local boards and commission remain a vital component for ensuring deliberative, inclusive and participatory democracy. It is in these bodies where ideas and policies affecting the day-to-day lives of residents are formulated and deliberated. Yet often local boards and commissions are far from transparent, accountable or participatory. Since the first municipal reforms were enacted, there have been ongoing questions about what might be done to revitalize these institutions and ensure that they enhance deliberative democracy and operate according to their intended purpose ... On the one hand, we as citizens have a responsibility to make this happen. February 7 marks the deadline to submit an application to apply for a local board or commission. City Council can only choose members based on the applications it receives. On the other hand, City Council needs to do more to leverage technology to engage the public in these important roles. This includes everything from improved clarity surrounding openings, a consistent and well documented application process, easily discoverable lists of current members (including a clear way to electronically communicate with members), and systemically distributed agendas and minutes (some of which is required by Virginia law). It should be noted this is valuable not only to potential board members but also the community writ large..." Continue reading.



Upcoming events: Open Data Deep Dive: Crime Data and Course: Introduction to Mapping Open Data

Open Data Deep Dive: Crime Data

Only a few spots remain for Wednesday's event, see here!

Introduction to Mapping Open Data

February 21, 2018 - 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
407 E. Water Street, Charlottesville

This course is aimed at local officials, technologists, civic innovators, and neighbors interested in learning how to create interactive maps using open data from the City of Charlottesville, the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the Federal Government. The goal is to enable you to generate a full-featured web map application from scratch that works on mobile devices … without any coding … in less than an hour.

Check our course page out for more information or to sign up!

How Can you Help?

  • Add yourself to our volunteer list by contacting us! Be sure to include interests and availability.
  • Donate to our non-profit or sponsor an event.
  • Share our newsletter with someone who may be interested.
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