I have volunteered and researched how open data from government is used by community volunteers. This kind of work is termed civic tech.
Can this positive community/government relationship extend to smaller communities? North Carolina has seven local groups, called “brigades,” in the spirit of volunteer fire brigades. I have blogged about a few NC communities and the interests and barriers they face for civic tech.
Rutherfordton – Downtown WIFI, public data, connecting conversations?
I spoke with town manager Doug Barrick, town manager, and Stephanie Rzonca, Community Development Director. Rutherfordton (population 4200) is a town in the NC foothills that has a robust, free downtown WIFI service. They also have a fiber backbone that reaches throughout town. The town government sponsored the fiber installation, which is now run by a for-profit business. Rutherfordton is the county seat for Rutherford County, population 66,000.