Tech volunteers forming civic initiative

Code for Milwaukee aims to bring government into the digital age

Last updated on June 18th, 2019 at 05:43 pm

Several area technologists are forming a Milwaukee chapter of a national organization that aims to increase civic engagement and open government through technology.

Romke de Haan

Romke de Haan, Andrew Yaspan, Mitch Henke, Danny Capozzi, Rob “Biko” Baker, Brian Barkley and Anthony Jesmok are accepting applications through May 1 for leadership roles in Code for Milwaukee, a local chapter of Code for America. The group attended two meetups on Saturday to build interest in the chapter, which they hope to launch at the end of May, said de Haan, a Milwaukee-based principal at Herndon, Virginia cybersecurity firm GuidePoint Security.

“Our goal and the reason why we put this leadership movement together instead of just doing it ourselves is we want to be as inclusive as possible,” de Haan said.

There was previously a similar local initiative, called the Milwaukee Open Data group, that lost momentum over the years, he said.

Code for America aims to improve government agencies’ connections with constituents in the digital age. It is focused on criminal justice, the social safety net and workforce development. For example, one initiative aims to reduce recidivism by connecting former prisoners with their case managers via text message. Another aims to simplify the process of applying for and retaining social safety net benefits with an app.

The goal of Code for Milwaukee is “to raise the awareness of civic technology and try to create impact in the city through technology,” de Haan said. “Making sure that people have access to services or that we help improve communication or infrastructure, so it’s essentially a resource for the city.”

Code for Milwaukee plans to host weekly or monthly open meetings to help move civic initiatives forward. Attendees could volunteer as much as they are able to participate in the projects, with the goal of making an impact collectively, he said.

“Our plan is to meet with civic leaders and community members to see what are the needs the city faces and how do we push these efforts forward,” de Haan said.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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