The other night I attended a Code for Cary meeting… a part of the larger Code for America, and even larger Code For All organizations. Code for All states "Together, we enlist and support the public to create digital resources, tools and practices that result in stronger local communities and more responsive and effective governments."
So in this meeting I gathered with six others to hear and discuss local coding efforts. The whole setup is actually really interesting. Data is obtained from the city websites, sometimes downloaded directly or scraped from existing web pages. The goal is to use the data in applications… these applications are built either locally or from shared projects from any of the Code for America organizations.
I was fascinated by a few of them… CityGram for example is a platform to visualize various data… from crime, to business listings, to restaurant inspections. You can also be notified via text message or email when there's an occurrence. New York has this up and running:
There's also a single site which hosts multiple cities, like the NC Triangle region:
You can also look at the source code:
Being a software engineer I figured I could help out in some way. Maybe build some apps.
For more information you can search for your local area's Code for America site to see which projects they're working on.
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The best social sites and search engines alone won't tell you how valuable your business is, but a series of calculations against a few key answers you provide, compared to other businesses, will. That's why a decision support system (DSS) is needed.
Wouldn't it be great to go to Google and query "How much is my business worth?" and then have an input form with a few questions and then an answer on the spot? Today the top search result is for 'information' that goes into valuing a company and a link to purchasing a book for further guidance.
A DSS could also help you in times of a crisis to narrow down your exact situation and provide you with an answer specific to you. I often find that I need to read four or five web pages to pinpoint an answer. It would be great to have a workflow that arrives at this sooner and more accurately.
Existing crowd-sourced decision engines also take time to get an answer because they require knowledgable people who are willing to answer. The questions are often repeated on different sites with a different audience.
So, how does the world accumulate and share this information? That's the complicated part. Ideally there would be questionnaires, quizzes, polls and such that are aggregated – perhaps as part of the search results themselves. DSS widgets can blanket the web on sites similar to how advertisements do today.
At Concursive, we've made a DSS that can be authored by a developer and placed on any of our ConcourseConnect sites within a portlet. We're not sure how the rest of the world will use it, but today we're creating polls, assessments and training materials for our customers. I would love to see something universal.
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The Open Source files for ConcourseConnect (OSI approved AGPL license) are being hosted by Google Code and Sourceforge.net. The reason we went with Google Code is initially for reliability and then later because the Open Source code base is synchronized directly to Google Code and you can review the changelog in near real-time. The reason we went with Sourceforge is because Sourceforge has a large inventory of Open Source software and for that reason it makes sense. Here's how I feel about the choices today...
This is a question that we have internally discussed for years. We decided that the answer was yes, a corporate web site can be a social networking community, and we have been running a web site and community, all-in-one, for about 8 years now. Powering concursive.com is ConcourseConnect 2.0 -- it's a collaboration application, but with the flexibility of a light-weight content management system.