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Big Improvements for the Big Easy Thanks to Code for America

Code for America uses technology to help fight blight in New Orleans.

Though I love traveling to new cities, New Orleans is still my happy place.

But for many New Orleans residents, blight in their communities has remained a huge problem long after Hurricane Katrina. The information on these properties has been extremely difficult to track, with data in different formats and places. The city wanted to help, but had been overwhelmed with how grab the reins without spending millions.

New Orleans city staff turned to Code for America, a non-profit that tackles civic issues with technology, and worked with passionate residents to integrate the relevant data. The team then built BlightStatus, a web app that allows people to view reports, inspections, hearings and scheduled demolitions for a given property.

As Code for America notes: “By itself, BlightStatus couldn’t mow overgrown lawns, paint over graffiti or renovate vacant buildings. But the app opened up a new, easy-to-use link between the city and community, keeping everyone on the same page and giving residents the chance to make their voices heard.”

It’s helping city staff keep up with changes, make data-driven decisions and remain accountable. In 2014, the city announced it had reduced blight by approximately 30%.

The BlightStatus code is open source (available here on GitHub), so it can be used by other cities to build partnerships between government and residents to improve communities.

Code for America has a bunch of cool project, from improving food safety to making places more cyclable. Click here for more stories.

And don't forget National Day of Civic Hacking is on June 4th. National Day of Civic Hacking is a day where developers, government employees, designers, data scientists, journalists, UX designers, and residents who care about their communities come together to host civic tech events leveraging their skills to help their community. 

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