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Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 1:17pm

Code For America Unveils Macon Apps

Macon residents have new ways to access information about city government.

The national non-profit Code for America is wrapping a one-year stint developing software applications to make government in Macon more transparent. They will unveil their completed work before the Macon City Council Tuesday evening.

Code for America fellow Jessica Lord built a map-based website that shows how Special Local Option Sales Tax dollars are being spent on individual infrastructure projects.

"There’s a bar chart so that you can compare the project's budgets to each other, there’s a funding schedule so you can see when projects are getting their money," Lord said. "If you print the page, it prints as a special report so it’s easy to share and post somewhere in the community."

Code for America is in its second year providing one year's worth of services to a select group of cities nationwide. This year's class included Macon along with Chicago, Austin, and Philadelphia.

The organization's work in Macon was funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which also supports GPB's coverage of Middle Georgia.

Code for America fellow Nicholas Doroin decided he wanted to make Macon’s property code enforcement data more available to the public, including information about buildings that are vacant or blighted.

He found the data in the city’s computers, locked in a software system that proudly labeled itself as "Y2K ready."

"As we looked closer, we found that Macon’s system was actually from 1997," Doroin said, laughing. "I was in second grade when they got this system."

Doroin liberated the data and put it all online. People in Macon can now pull up a map of their neighborhood and see exactly which houses around them have been flagged with violations, and what the city is, or is not, doing about it.

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