2015 Code for America Summit Recap

tl;dr – Code for America Summit was absolutely amazing. We met and interacted with many passionate civic tech enthusiasts from across the world. Watch the amazing videos from the main stage. My personal favorite was Sam Vaughn from the City of Richmond.

Updated: Breakout sessions have been updated with links!

Pre-Summit Brigade Meeting

Last week, three of us from the Code for Hawaii Brigade headed to Oakland for the 2015 Code for America Summit. We all arrived a day early for the Pre-Summit Brigade meeting. Led by Hannah Young and Catherine Bracy, the Pre-Summit Brigade meeting is an opportunity to not only meet our fellow Brigade leaders from across the world but also to gain insights into Code for America’s Brigade vision and strategy.

Here’s some of the wonderful assets that came out of that day.

Two of my personal highlights from that day:

  1. Getting awesome-civic into the Code for America repository. Since we’ve recently rebooted the Code for Hawaii Brigade, we wanted to aggregate and highlight the civic tech tools available for Brigades to point to as to not reinvent the wheel for every Brigade. Make sure to check it out!
  2. At the end of the day, we gathered at the steps of Oakland City Hall and took this fun group picture.

Code for America Summit


Over the next two and a half days, the conference followed the following format: speakers on the main stage until noon followed by lunch and smaller sessions / tracks.  I won’t be able to highlight all the amazing speakers from the morning’s main stage, but here were a few of my favorites.  As a note, make sure to check out the Code for America YouTube channel to check out the videos yourself.

My personal favorites:

As for the small sessions, I attended the following:

Update: Here’s a link to all breakout sessions.

What was most refreshing is that each session was led by a panel of experts that actually experienced the topic they were discussing. When the session videos are put online, I’ll be sure to link them.

My favorite session was Open Your City’s Buildings and Addresses, and Help the Blind with Open Street Map.  This was a Code for Louisville project to get building and address point data into Open Street Map in support of the American Printing House for the Blind’s ‘Nearby Explorer’ app.  This is a great example of how powerful collaboration within the civic technology space can be. You can read more about what was accomplished here. The nice thing about this presentation was that there were actionable / discrete steps on how we could import this same data into Open Street Maps and in the process, enable support for the American Printing House for the Blind’s ‘Nearby Explorer’ app here in Hawaii.

All in all, this was an amazing week for civic technology. We met a ton of new faces from Brigades and governments from around the world.  We absorbed lessons learned and retrospectives.

More importantly, we were inspired.

Let’s do this, Hawaii.

*All photos provided by Burt Lum.

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