This is a guest blog post by Fiona Krakenbürger, research associate at Open Knowledge Foundation DE and Community Manager at Code for Germany
In July 2014, the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany launched its program “Code for Germany! Prior to the OK Festival in Berlin, we presented the project to the media, international partners, city representatives, members of our Advisory Board and friends from far and wide. It was a honour for us to welcome partners, supporters and members of the program to the stage. Among them were Lynn Fine from Code for America, Gabriella Goméz-Mont from the Laboratorio para la Ciudad, Prof. Dr. Gesche Joost (Digital Champion Germany) and Nicolas Zimmer (Technologiestiftung Berlin).
An essential focus of the launch and of the project was directed towards the community of Civic Tech pioneers and Open Data enthusiasts. We wanted developers and designers who are interested and active in the field of Open Data to get involved and inspired to start Open Knowledge Labs in their city. We started Code for Germany.
The feedback so far has been amazing. In the past few months, fourteen Labs have sprouted up all across the country, bringing together more than 150 people on a regular basis to work on civic tech, use open data, and make the most of their skills to better their cities. This has all added up to more than 4000 hours of civic hacking and has resulted in multiple apps and projects.
The different OK Labs have been the source of a great variety of projects, tackling different topics and social challenges. For example, the OK Lab in Hamburg has a strong focus on urban development, and have created a map which shows the distribution of playgrounds in the city. An app from the OK Lab Heilbronn depicts the quality of tap water according to the region, and another from the OK Lab Cologne helps users find the closest defibrillator in their area. One more of our favourite developments is called “Kleiner Spatz”, which translates to “Little Sparrow” and helps parents find available child care spaces in their city.
We could go on and on listing our favourite projects, prototypes and ideas emerging from the OK Labs but why not check out the list for yourself to see what amazing things can be built with technology?
Still, this is just the beginning. We are now going into the next phase: In the coming months we want to strengthen the various communities and establish ties with officials, governments and administrations. We believe that the government of the 21st Century should be open, transparent and accountable. Therefore we want to foster innovation in the field of Open Data, Civic Innovation and Public Services and create fertile collaborations between citizens and governments. Numerous useful visualizations and apps created by the OK Labs have now laid the foundation for these developments.
We are so excited about the upcoming events, projects, partners and inspiring people we have yet to meet. So far, Code for Germany has been a blast! And last (but certainly not least) we would like to express our most heartfelt gratitude towards the community of developers and designers who have contributed so much already. You rock & stay awesome!