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Code for America Develops New Tools for Macon Civic Engagement | News

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Code for America Develops New Tools for Macon Civic Engagement

For the last year, Macon has had some of the brightest minds in web development creating tools that open the lines of communication between government and its citizens.

Macon's time as one of the 11 cities in the Code For America program is drawing to a close, but now the city is prepared to use the six projects developed by CFA Fellows.

For instance, programmer Jessica Lord says she spent countless hours on a website to track SPLOST projects.

"You can absolutely see where all the money is going," said Lord. "Hopefully it makes residents feel better, that the government is doing what it said it would do with the money."

She gathered data of all the projects on the SPLOST list voters approved last November, and presented them in broad categories to detailed breakdowns by street.

"You can see where these projects are in the city, you can compare budgets that the projects are getting and you can look at the finding schedule of when the funds actually will be disbursed," said Lord.

Her teammate, Nick Doiron, worked on several web-based map tools for the area, including a map for the transit system, a neighborhood development map for Habitat for Humanity, and one called HomeStatus.org that tracks what the code enforcement department is working on in specific neighborhoods.

"There are really two things you can use it for," he said. "One is if you want to know what is going on in your neighborhood with individual houses-- if they're reported or whether code enforcement is looking into them, and another shows you what the city's timeline is for that house."

Doiron showed the site to a handful of people from the Lynmore Estates neighborhood in South Macon, including pastor William Rand of the Southside Community Church.

"There are lot of vacant houses, and ones that are not vacant but are in terrible shape," he said, "so this is good to be able to check and see what's being done."

Harold Tessendorf, the executive director of the Macon area Habitat for Humanity, also saw Doiron's presentation. He said it's a tool that could impact a lot more than the look of the city.

"It allows us to be more focused, more targeted, and see greater results. And I think when that happens and people feel more empowered, that also results in more engaged citizens."

The SPLOST site is not yet available to the public. Lord spent part of Wednesday transferring data to the city's sever so employees can maintain the site once she completes her fellowship. She said she expects the site to go love the week of October 29.


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