Cities are taking coding to the streets
By Camille Barron
August 30, 2013 —
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Related Search Term(s): CityNext, cloud, Code for America
Technologies that benefit consumers and businesses are making their way into the halls of government.
Projects such as CityNext and Code for America are working with governments at multiple levels to help them use mobile and cloud technologies to better serve their constituencies.
Software solutions provider AvePoint has partnered with Microsoft on the CityNext project, which is bringing governments “the ability to publish information to a citizen community by leveraging cloud resources,” according to Chris Foreman, CEO of AvePoint Public Sector, a subsidiary of AvePoint.
Some examples of this are updates on public transportation and emergency situations, or viewing an outstanding parking ticket when applying for a license.
Cities already have a lot of mechanisms for delivering this information, but Foreman said that CityNext would modernize the process by tying all separate technologies together. This would be done by migrating the government’s role of citizen notification to the cloud.
Foreman said that hybrid clouds would be employed: a cloud for publication, and one for non-publication. “Departments could publish open government data to the general public, while critical information governments would be uncomfortable putting into a public cloud would be put into a cloud for nonproduction.” This can be replicated in multiple cities and government agencies using what he referred to as the “delete and repeat” model: City-specific information would be erased while keeping the general framework of the program the same so deployment could be repeated across departments or cities.
Success could be replicated to other areas quickly, and upgrades to the program could be done more easily. For the production cloud to be accessible by all citizens, the information would be extended to a mobile app. Foreman wants this app to contain analytics and a timeline, as well as interactions with citizens via forums accessible from the app, both in day-to-day and emergency situations. Again, the structure of the app would be transparent, customized to a specific city deployment. For emergency services, the idea is that “entities that need access to the same information can access a public cloud where users can share information,” he said.
The initiative, while spanning a great expanse of people, is doable because of the cloud, but the bigger problem CityNext faces is convincing cities to adopt the new program. But Foreman is not worried, due to the customizable options within the cloud. “Departments can use the same template but customize it to their wants or needs.” There is also the question of costs associated with implementing a citywide app, but Foreman assured that AvePoint already has resources around the world to produce it. It is also supposed to be inexpensive to deploy apps.