Alicia Rouault

Alicia Rouault

Details

  • Bio: Alicia is a proud 2012 Code for America Fellow. Over the next year, Alicia will work with an A-team of CfA developers, the City of Detroit, local citizens and technologists toward the design and deployment of apps to address vacancy and other civic issues in Detroit. Prior to CfA, Alicia worked as a Research Fellow with the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development and SFMade to develop a national urban manufacturing toolkit supported by the Clinton Global Initiative. On the East coast, Alicia worked as Assistant Editor of Urban Omnibus, where she wrote and curated content showcasing the work of urban planners, citizens, designers and technologists on city systems. In recent past, Alicia has worked in community development with the City of Newark’s Division of Planning and Economic Development, Pratt Center for Community Development and Citizens Committee for New York City. Alicia holds a dual B.A. in Political Science and Ethics, Society and Law from the University of Toronto. She is currently a Masters candidate in City and Regional Planning and has studied at the Pratt Institute and UC Berkeley. She has interest in post-industrial waterfronts, data visualization, community advocacy and the intersection of planning and technology. twitter: @arouault web: aliciarouault.com
  • Email: alicia@codeforamerica.org
  • Fellow
  • Detroit: Connecting our city contact to other people she might not have engaged with was a somewhat unintended benefit to our events and organizing efforts. Karla Henderson is an executive administrator under Mayor Bing. She had some preconceptions around the work of D3, Jerry Paffendorf (Loveland Tech) and Vince Mazzola of newdetroitstyle.com, among civic "hacker" types working in Detroit. Through attending our events and engaging with these types in a less formal setting (and workshop atmosphere), she indicated to us, "I'm here because of you guys." meaning that she wouldn't have been in the room had it not been for CfA. She also indicated we had an uncanny ability to "rise above" all the politics and expose her to people who she otherwise wouldn't have met with. Information was exchanged, and although partnerships may not blossom overnight, it was important both for her and groups like D3 to listen to distinct (at times competing) interests.
  • Detroit: When meeting with the Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Detroit, Andre DuPerry, as well as his Director of Purchasing, Boysie Jackson, the topic of competitive bids came up. Currently Detroit's government has a problem with BIDs getting too few vendors. This encourages using the same vendors over and over again, driving costs up, and encouraging corruption. The purchasing team also described how different departments will team up on contracts that cover more than one area, i.e., instead of three contracts for gas for different departments with the same vendor, make it one big contract; as well as a history of attending purchasing trade conferences nationally to see what other cities are doing. Through these conversations came a desire to be able to post BIDs/RFPs/RFQs online to open them up to a wider audience. This in turn would allow Detroit to engage more directly with other cities' best practices around vending and contracts, and drive down the cost of contracts and vendors through competitive BIDs at a national scale.
  • Detroit: Fire and Planning Department staff rarely (if ever) end up at the same meeting. Bringing together a lower-level GIS-analyst and planning staffer with the CIO of the Fire Department at an early meeting sparked discussion about data needs and enthusiasm for inter-departmental information sharing.
  • Detroit: City complaints are received by the City of Detroit in a multitude of channels. 311 is the minority channel -- many other areas -- City Council staff desks, city ombudsmen, The Mayor's Office and specific departments all receive information and city service requests on a regular basis. All of these different desks manage requests differently. Some have excel spreadsheets, some don't keep track, some use the 311 complaint management system, and some have had their own complaint tracking systems built. In the latter case, there is one currently under development in Councilwoman Jenkin's office called "Jenkin's Case." When meeting with City Council in Detroit, we were in dialogue with the young, tech-savvy staff under City Council President Charles Pugh on a regular basis. We had a great meeting letting the Council President's staff what we had observed and pointed to the possibility for streamlining at least the City Council's request systems across the board (making Jenkins' Case the standard). They want to do this and are eager to eliminate redundancies toward providing constituents with better "customer service."
  • Detroit: One evening Team Detroit decided to take public transportation along with a DDOT transportation analyst and a legendary Detroit-based transportation cartographer. Detroit has a history of unreliable bus service, cold weather and long waits. There is currently no way to find out a) what time the bus is coming b) if its on time or not, and c) there are no route maps on the bus stops. We briefly engaged with a typical rider, a young woman who shared with us her daily reality -- giving herself a 2.5 hour buffer in order to take two buses to get to work. A bus ride that she'd missed 7 times already due to poor service and no way to tell her boss at Walmart that she would be late/miss work that day. She has a cell phone, much like most Detroiters (FCC says 105% cell phone penetration rate) with SMS access. This experience and many like it pushed us further to want to implement an SMS-integrated Real-time bus data alert system. Onward!
  • Detroit: Following our initial communication with Department of Transportation (DDOT) we had encountered Portia Roberson, a woman working with the federal SC2 program. We mentioned potential for launching an SMS-based notification/alert system for riders to know when their bus would come. We were then connected to Stewart McKenzie, of the federal transportation administration , who indicated the option for federal support for this initiative and DDOT generally in the amount of $17 million which needed an avenue for application in Detroit. We then connected our contact at DDOT, Tim Roseboom, to a potentially significant partnership and funding stream for an underresourced department.