Rutherfordton NC Outreach and Involvement – Downtown WIFI, Citizen Needs, Civic Tech Opportunities

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.

How does Rutherfordton handle its data? Continue Reading

Seeking the Seeds of Civic Tech in Medium-sized and Smaller Towns in NC

In December, I started exploring if the community-local government partnerships known as civic tech can grow from a few of North Carolina’s larger cities to other parts of the state.  There are about 70 groups nationwide where volunteers use government open data to address community needs through creating free apps or other IT products.

The smallest town with a civic tech “brigade” is Muskogee, Oklahoma, home to about 38,000 people.  Can small towns in North Carolina do the same thing?

I am assessing what level of interest and capability medium- to smaller-sized towns may have for civic tech.

I am glad to report the perspectives from government official in three communities. They show the variations of government readiness, IT and civic resources, and internal and community innovation. Continue Reading