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Adopt a Hydrant Web App Lets Anchorage Residents Volunteer to Help Maintain Community Infrastructure



Anchorage, December 3, 2012 — Thanks to a committed group of volunteer techies, Anchorage citizens can now make a difference, one fire hydrant at a time. Today, a local group of community-minded technologists launched Anchorage Adopt a Hydrant: a new free web application that allows people to "adopt" hydrants to ensure they are accessible during neighborhood emergencies.

The group was inspired by national initiative Code for America (often nicknamed a “Peace Corps for Geeks”), which connects tech industry talent with local government to develop new ways of approaching civic challenges and make cities more open, efficient, and engaging.

According to Lance Ahern, Anchorage’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), “Anchorage is actively engaged with our local tech stars to provide the data they need to help us improve civic services. There are many technically savvy civic minded developers who just need access to city data to provide new apps for our citizens, whether over the web or on their smart phones. We are going to do everything we can to support these public data requests, and our local developer community.”

By adopting a hydrant, Anchorage citizens directly contribute to the efficiency of the city and the safety of their own neighborhood.  Alaska Water and Wastewater Utility (AWWU) employees maintain the majority of Anchorage hydrants, performing routine inspections throughout the year.  Depending on snowfall, snow removal can consume up to 75% of the time spent at each hydrant.  During the record 2011-2012 snowfall, AWWU had to reassign workers to help shovel out hydrants, which increased the backlog of maintenance work. Adopt a Hydrant will free up AWWU employees to work on other projects or may eliminate the need for a firefighter to grab a shovel before using a hydrant

Adopt A Hydrant is part of a nationwide Code for America campaign called Race for Reuse, which promotes civic engagement through technology. This October, Code for America challenged civic-minded technologists to launch a civic engagement app in their community by election day. Community groups in 22 cities across the country — including Anchorage — are participating locally.

The same free software has been used in other cities across the country for a variety of civic infrastructure, such as storm drains, trees, emergency sirens. Anchorage expects to work with our local tech stars to extend the Adopt a Hydrant program where possible

“We think it's important to connect local civic engagement with a citizenry that is increasingly online and mobile,” commented Kevin Curry, Program Director at Code for America. “The Race for Reuse campaign taking place in Anchorage and over two dozen other cities is bringing these two worlds together.”

In all participating cities, residents can attend events to get involved with the project, connect with other innovative citizens, and help improve their city.

Adopt A Hydrant will be hosting an event on December 9th at 12PM to encourage local community members to participate in improving the Adopt A Hydrant project. This event is free and open to the public. Details forthcoming.

More information is available at: http://hydrants.opendata.muni.org/

Code for America (http://codeforamerica.org) is a national nonprofit that connects talent from the tech industry with local government to make cities more open, efficient, and engaging. Often nicknamed a “Peace Corps for Geeks,” Code for America recruits designers and developers for an 11-month fellowship where they partner with industry and government leaders to develop new ways of approaching civic challenges.

Anchorage Adopt A Hydrant http://hydrants.opendata.muni.org/

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