Midtown Raleigh News

Second CityCamp is this weekend

When organizers of CityCamp Raleigh reflect on the year since their inaugural idea-sharing assembly, they see many reasons to be proud.

The tech-minded group helped inspire the city to embrace technology in ways big and small. Now, with their credibility established, the folks behind CityCamp will hold a second annual gathering this week, and participants are eager to build on their successes.

Put simply, the event’s mission is to think up ways that technology can be used to improve local government and create better-informed citizens.

“We’ve got some name recognition,” said Jason Hibbets, a lead organizer. “We’ve influenced the open source movement here in Raleigh. We’ve seen a lot of stuff come from the city that folks from CityCamp are involved in.”

Among the highlights:

The Raleigh City Council passed a resolution committing to foster open government by encouraging the use of open-source systems and open access to data.

The city agreed to set aside $50,000 annually to fund an open data catalog. Raleigh city data will be digitally published and made ready for use by city residents, software developers or news outlets.

A group of volunteers birthed TriangleWiki – a free, openly editable website that tells about local history, events, greenways, parks and anything else in the Triangle.

Three days of tech talk

A crowd of 150 to 200 is expected this year, though organizers expect the highest attendance on Friday for panels featuring local government and business leaders.

Speakers include Red Hat executive DeLisa Alexander, Capital Broadcasting chief Jim Goodmon and Gail Roper, the city’s chief information and community relations officer.

On Saturday, teams begin the work of “solution exploration.”

Groups return Sunday for more workshops and collaboration before the event concludes with team presentations.

A $5,000 prize is awarded to the team that delivers the best plan for using technology to solve a problem or better engage citizens.

Last year, one idea was to filter city information based on a resident’s GPS location, enabling someone to quickly pull up all the relevant city services and resources they need to stay informed.

Another involved taking data on school rankings and making it easily accessible online to parents.

CityCamp Raleigh is modeled on similar events held in Washington, Chicago, San Francisco and London.

“The bar is higher,” Hibbets said. “Because we have some credibility, the challenge is, what can we do that’s going to have a big impact? We want to tackle something that is going to change people’s lives.”