Code for America coming to South Bend in 2013

Hang on to your handheld device, South bend is one of nine U.S. cities poised to make democracy more digital in 2013.

Now a unique program is coming to town, and it is called Code for America and nicknamed, the Peace Corps for geeks.

There are a lot of homes in South Bend in need of repair, and a lot of homes that are simply beyond repair, too often, it is too hard for the casual observer to tell them apart.

“One example of how it should help is there is sometimes confusion about a demolition order so a lot of times an investor will come in they'll buy a property, on a tax sale and then they'll say wait a minute this is on the demolition list,” says Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “We could clear up a lot of that confusion if we had a clear online source of data.”

Like the clear, online source of data called Blightstatus.com, designed for the city of New Orleans, by visiting fellows from a nonprofit called Code for America.

Next year, three code fellows will head to South Bend to search for ways to make government here, more efficient, transparent, and participatory. In as of yet unspecified ways.

“I think this is a real brain gain for the city of South Bend, these are fellows who are very qualified and talented they have their pick of a lot of private sector employers, and they've chosen to spend one year working on our cities issues instead,” says Mayor Buttigieg.

In Boston, code set up a way to track the location of your child's school bus, in real time, and in Macon, a way to see exactly where local option sales tax dollars were being spent.

While Code for America services do not come free, private sources in South Bend have already ponied up $200,000 for the cause, while the city's share hasn't been determined, the Mayor says it will be less than that.

“It reflects that we're a smarter city and it is an example of what our comeback looks like,” says Mayor Buttigieg.

Three code fellows are due to arrive in South Bend in February.


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