Recently the STAR-TIDES staff came across the Code for America (CfA) website, which provides an inventory of applications for governance and disaster relief. CfA is a non-profit organization made up of self described web geeks, city experts and technology leaders all working together to build a network of cities, citizens, community groups, and startups. The goal of this organization is to help the government work better for everyone with the people and the power of the web. CfA describes their Commons project as a “community driven civic-app store” which allows civic technologists to share applications and their experience using them. CfA Commons features a directory of over 670 apps in 319 cities throughout the United States, as well as a Wiki page which is used for open-source data sharing across their network. Users can browse through these apps by city, function or software type and the website frequently highlights the most widely used and trending apps.
Most of CfA’s apps are used for a civic engagement project, however there are a number of apps which concentrate of emergency management, public work and health services. Many of the apps have been designed for a particular issue or city but can be widely used in a disaster situation. One of the apps worth noting is Sheltr, which uses an individual’s exact location to determine the nearest source of available food, shelter, medical services or other basic human needs. Although CfA concentrates their efforts of domestic issues and not HA/DR in developing countries, their apps directory is a useful tool for any web-based community looking to share emergency applications. Anyone is welcome to join CfA Commons and add apps and organizations to the directory.Check it out!