Ideas aplenty at 'Code for South Bend' seminar
Find a local business. Identify bicycle routes that commute to school or work. Locate polling places. Even adopt a fire hydrant.
The ideas kept coming Saturday when an estimated 50 residents and students got together at Innovation Park on Notre Dame's campus to discuss "Code for South Bend," an online proposition that would set up a local Wiki page and put a host of community and city operations at the public's click of a mouse.
"It would be accessible to everybody," said Dave Guarino, one of three Code for America fellows developing a Web application for the City of South Bend who spoke at the event. "The focus is ... editing a Web site to fit things happening in the city."
Take the multitude of abandoned properties that are turning South Bend neighborhoods into eyesores.
With a local Wiki page listing the properties, neighbors could identify and "adopt" the property in an effort to maintain their own home values.
"Rehabbing abandoned properties bring neighbors together," reasoned Barbara Turner. "Get neighbors involved to fix these houses so we keep our property value up."
Updated maps identifying bike lanes and daily hazards along certain routes would help cycling commuters, Karen Haun maintained.
"The city has a list of bike routes on the Web, but they're hard to read," Haun said. "It would be nice if there was a community-wide bike map."
Deb Kuehn, GIS manager for the City of South Bend, said that while the city has online data available to help in the location of city operational tools -- fire hydrants, for instance -- "We don't have data showing where all fire hydrants are at."
One idea pitched involved using the local Wiki page to adopt a city-owned emergency tool, such as a fire hydrant, making sure that it's clear for use at any time.
"The city," Kuehn says, "is trying harder to keep track of its resources."
Guarino and his two fellow Code For America workers have taken up residency in South Bend for the month of February. Code for America, a nonprofit organization, is working with local governments across the nation to set up applications for communities.
Dan Neumann described a newer, streamlined online data map for the community as "an ecosystem" linking the city's public to a vast range of community resources, businesses, or special interests.
"This would give people a place to make those connections," Neumann said.
Staff writer Jeff Harrell: