Joe Merante

Joe Merante

Details

  • Bio:
  • Email: joe@codeforamerica.org
  • Fellow
  • Austin: While seeking a link to an old press release on the city site, discovered their archives were very limited and inconsistent. There were some errors in how the site automated the deletion of certain posts, and we were told they've been reexamined their entire approach to archiving. I suggested maintaining archives for a much longer period of time (ideally permanently as some cities do, whether required by law or not) for various public interest purposes, and offered suggestions for alleviating concerns about misuse or misinterpretation of past info.
  • Austin: Prior to the SXSW festival in Austin, I noticed that the street closings info on the city web site was not conveyed in a mobile-friendly format, also only displayed in pdf's. Emily suggested creating a Google Custom map, which I did using the closings listed on the city's site. The city updated their online press release with the embedded map, which got about 4,000 views. After the event, I tried to use the map as an example of why the city should release their street closings and special events road closings data in a machine-friendly format, or at all. Those efforts are pending. http://bit.ly/sxstreets
  • Austin: Our city contacts had been asking us for more examples of apps built using city data to use in their discussions with departments about open data policy. Using an app Jesse built for Chicago called DeepDish, I modified the code to use a data set from Austin's data portal containing restaurant inspection scores. Both Jesse and Mick helped with a few coding questions that came up. The city contacts replied that this is exactly what they were looking for. App is live at http://deepdishatx.herokuapp.com.
  • Austin: Over the weekend, I noticed a Tweet about broken links appearing in Google for Austin's 311 web site. In February, we had communicated with the web team about SEO in general. The general SEO issues related to the city's new web site appear to be resolved, and they have set up a redirect from the old 311 page (which appears in search results for 'Austin 311', 'Austin Texas 311' etc.) to the current page. We've offered to help with SEO more generally.
  • Austin: Emily created an awesome infographic for the City of Austin Sustainability Department to highlight their "Rethink Austin" campaign in advance of Earth Day. She produced the first drafts then worked with the stakeholders to make sure their objectives were in alignment as the project progressed. The final product can be viewed at one of two uber-long url's that hopefully we'll remember to update once it's posted on a CfA site. http://www.austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Sustainability/Rethink_-_SAA/RETHINK_Poster_-_FINAL.pdf https://d2q0qd5iz04n9u.cloudfront.net/_ssl/proxy.php/http/gallery.mailchimp.com/7eae25b3fcdc6e862a1a20456/images/rethink_austin.jpg
  • Austin: Prior to Code Across America on 2/25/12, the Austin public library provided us with a data set containing the number of materials checked out and public Internet users per branch each month, compared to the same month in prior years. When we forwarded the data set for addition to the city's portal, we were provided with a form that a library Director needed to fill out first, which has been a consistent issue in the release of more data to the portal - who wants another form to fill out? We asked the library's webmaster to complete the form, which he told us he did. More important, he replied and told us that they'll be releasing monthly updates of this data set to the portal.
  • Austin: Getting the 311 group on our side. We contacted the 311 group before our residency and were told they couldn't meet until upgrading their system. After a few followups, then having an Assistant City Manager and the City Communications Director contact them, we had an hourlong meeting which included the 311 Director, a few of his project managers, the city's data portal lead (from the web, not 311, department) and Motorola (311 vendor). We discussed the open311 spec and how to implement it; Motorola would have to enable the Connected Bits module in the city's system. We went over examples of apps built from 311 data, discussed concerns that 311 and departments would have (security, standardization, etc.) and next steps forward. Matt Esquibel, the city's data portal lead, highlighted Baltimore's open data and 311 apps approach which uses the same Motorola platform and Socrata data portal. We felt like we won over the 311 team by the end of the meeting and set up next steps to keep things moving toward APIs and apps, beginning with regular dumps of csv's to the city's data portal.