Our Strategic Partnership with Palm Beach Technology Association

Expanding our program reach to Palm Beach County through a community-based organization

November 16, 2020We are partnering with the community organization, Palm Beach Technology Association, to bring our digital services and research efforts to the 3rd most populous county in Florida. This partnership is so we can maximize reach in our Justice Discovery and Workforce Development efforts. 

As civic technology non-profit, we recognize that modernizing government and increasing the adoption of open-source technologies do not happen overnight. It takes a relationship and a willingness to be in the work for the long haul. Our focus from Day 1 continues to be demonstrating change through services that inspire and help others to do it themselves. This is why as we grow, we recognize the need for partners who can help promote our digital service initiatives in municipalities or counties. We hope to do this through Palm Beach Tech Association in the following:

  • Expanding Reach to Palm Beach County by promoting our digital services and services through their network of employers, partners and affiliates.
  • Fostering relationships with the public sector to amplify “tech for social good” volunteering on Code for South Florida’s workforce development and small business initiatives. 
  • Collaborating on a Smart City Peer Group to drive conversations with public-private partners around cities that put people first.

Palm Beach Technology Association is a membership association that recently expanded its vision to transform South Florida into a Tech Hub. For 5-years it has grown its base of employer and partner members while creating branded content for the Palm Beach Tech ecosystem. This includes a range of content like podcasts, peer groups, member directories, and most recently Code for Good hackathons. Through this partnership, we will be added to their Member Directory, not as a paying member but as a technology partner. In addition, we will work on select community initiatives. 

Code for South Florida’s mission continues to be modernizing technology in the public sphere through a people-first approach. We expect our partnership with Palm Beach Tech will help us in our workforce development and justice discovery work in South Florida, connecting us with employers interested in supporting Tech For Good initiatives, and forge a path for a Smart Peer Peer Group in 2021. Through this work, we will elevate public interest technology by fostering Civic Engagement, Digital Transformation, and Smarter Cities across South Florida.

We hope to see a brighter future built on tech for social impact, a future that is not only envisioned but measured consistently to better serve the greater public. We understand the importance of location is having roots and understanding of demographics. Our user research dives into understanding this community and its system across Miami-Dade, Broward, and now Palm Beach in the foreseeable future. To stay true to our objective we believe the best way to serve South Florida is having services that reach every County, and this partnership positions us closer to that goal.

Community Program

The Justice Discovery Initiative

Discovering ways to improve how the public sees and seeks Justice Reform through data

November 10, 2020 –  TL: DR; Yesterday we kicked off our partnership with Mozilla Foundation and Miami-Dade College for our Justice Discovery Initiative. Through a cohort of emerging technologists, we will work to understand the justice system in South Florida and improve how people discover local police budgets and police complaints through prototypes that will be made public for community feedback. 

The discussion on police brutality and police reform at the local level is missing data that is accurate and standardized. Our hope is to discover a way to push the conversation of data standards to help inform and engage communities.

Our staff will shepherd junior talent from Miami-Dade College to lead a collaborative effort with the City of Miami to research, analyze, and release data related to two justice-related prototypes for municipal and potentially county-level use cases. Our goal is to help residents, government staff, researchers, and journalists investigate and improve interactions between police and the public.

Why Police Complaints?

In a typical year in Miami, Florida, the Civilian Investigative Panel at the City of Miami receives between 250-300 police complaints from sworn police officers. The panel’s mission is to provide an impartial assessment of concerns of sworn police. In August, we teamed up with reporter Daniel Rivero to access their complaints database and launched a beta search tool that received overwhelmingly positive feedback from Miamians in 2020, with thousands of users signing on to the application in a matter of weeks. What we learned is that not all police complaint forms are equal, and that although public data is gathered and centralized, it is not always accessible for the public.

For this reason, we are iterating on our past work to improve how the public finds police complaint records. We are starting with user research engaging real people to navigate the experiences of transparency around police complaints to improve the process and recommend better approaches to the work. To expand on that work our justice discovery initiative will use qualitative and quantitative research to identify and explore new opportunities for public services.

The “Justice Discovery Initiative” is called so because we are not selling solutions: we are civic technologists working with emerging talent to get a better picture of policy, law enforcement, budget, and data to demonstrate improvements to public systems. We are opening up government to the public and encouraging feedback to build a better future together. This is for all of us – not some of us.

Why Budget Data?

When it comes to getting anything started in government you need a budget. Currently, there is not a Police Reform budget in place and we see that as an opportunity. A small budget allocated to fixing data standardizing is a small step toward major wins in moving discussions on police reform initiatives. In our civic engagement initiative, we championed participatory budgeting as a method to achieve getting the people to vote where tax dollars should go.

What we learned is that many South Floridians struggle to understand where dollars are going in the existing budget and which projects are happening. In a virtual world, searching through existing budget data and budget decisions made at local government hearings is difficult. We see the first step to getting to participatory budgeting as a place where citizens may openly access municipal and county data and the virtual meetings where the decisions are being made. Through this discovery work, we plan to work with a team to uncover methods of improvement in this area. 

Finding A Budget for Police Reform Through Digital Services 

We believe the public should have services that they can use reliably and with dignity. Everyone should be able to know where to make a police complaint or see their local government budget simply. They should also be able to know where decisions are being made, and services that cities host should reflect the same level of modern technology as the big technology companies. In our discovery, we hope to demonstrate services that inspire this change toward a better relationship between government and its citizens. 


Front-End Miami is now backed by Code for South

TL:DR; Front-End Miami (FEM) is a fiscally sponsored project by Code for South Florida which as a 501(c)(3) organizations meaning your donations are tax-deductible.

September 3, 2020. Code for South Florida is pleased to announce we are fiscally sponsoring Front-End Miami (FEM) a group led by engineers for engineers. Founded by Ernie Hsiung and led by Chris Scott and Charles Villard. This sponsorship means Front-End Miami will turn into a project initiative supported by Code for South Florida.

“The Front-End Miami community has built an organic space for developers and we want to help them find ways to grow and become sustainable”

Established in 2012, Front-End Miami created a space for developers to meet and find a community. Today they stand tall, a group of over one thousand members supporting Miami’s Technology community and talent, no matter what level of experience. At Code for South Florida, we find that people who live and work in South Florida have a stronger sense of community when they work on technology projects for social impact. Over the years, some of our best contributors on the Code for South Florida projects have come from Front-End Miami. That is why we believe in their contributions to the South Florida tech ecosystem and why we are sponsoring this community-led initiative.

The Front-End community has built an organic space for developers and we want to help them find ways to grow and become sustainable. They are a space for entry, mid-level, and senior front-end engineers to be humans, not just workers. We don’t have enough places where talent can converse and this provides that natural connection in Miami. 

Front-End Miami will be focused on internal planning and shaping strategies for creating content for their community, including podcasts and other forms of community-facing conversations. We at Code for South Florida are supporting them by creating a place to donate and support Front-End Miami in the work they do.

Under this fiscal sponsorship, Code for South Florida will be doubling down on our commitment to building a community of technologists who recognize the need for open source and public data.  We’ll be incorporating this into our plan of job-based volunteer posting which will help people interested in working with us on tech for social impact to build a better Public Interest Technology ecosystem. This sponsorship is for a year and will be reviewed annually. 

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