A group of Code for America (CfA) programmers will be helping the Puerto Rican government develop tools to address the island’s civic needs, CIO Giancarlo González and Science, Technology and Research Trust Executive Director Iván Ríos-Mena announced Thursday. “Since October we have been working directly with CfA, paving the way for the arrival of the fellows to the island. Today we can officially say that a group of three programmers from around the world are working on the development of various solutions to specific problems that we have identified, to improve services offered to citizens in government, encouraging the island’s economic development,” said González, during a news conference. Puerto Rico was selected along with nine other cities to host the CfA program. The island competed against 50 other cities, landing one of the coveted spots. This selection comes in part as a result of the conclusion of the first Puerto Rico Tech Summit, during which CfA was represented. The fellows will work out of the Science Trust’s headquarters during their one-month stint. Currently, the group of CfA fellows is in an exploratory stage identifying those areas in which they can help promote economic development in various sectors, mostly in the area of entrepreneurship, Ríos-Mena said. To boost an entrepreneurial culture, the Economic Development and Commerce Department, the Economic Development Bank, Puerto Rico Trade and Export and the Science Trust have come together to launch a broad strategy to create one-stop-shops to help up-and-coming impresarios.CIO Giancarlo González
CfA is a nonprofit that envisions a government by the people, for the people, that works in the 21st century, according to its own description. The fellowship is CfA’s best known program and consists of a one-year residency placing developers, designers and researchers within local governments. Over the course of the program, fellows and government partners build apps, inspire new thinking amongst public servants and tackle some of our country’s toughest problems, the nonprofit states. “I am very excited and honored to work with the government of Puerto Rico. The government is a leading player in the region with innovative and citizen-focused initiatives,” said Clara González-Sueyro, one of the three fellows working on the island. “We are eager and excited for the month of February, when we will focus our efforts to get an in-depth learning of the stories, efforts and challenges of government employees and members of the community for whom we wish to create solutions,” she said. All solutions developed by CfA are open source. This means that any city in the world with a similar problem can create their own versions adjusted for their local situations. This model allows for the quick and organic development of solutions, creating further innovation capabilities within public administration. “Our mission is to provide greater openness to information. The mission of Code for America is to reduce the gap between the technological landscape and governments,” González said. “Without a doubt, this partnership between the government and CfA will help us to provide access to information and be more efficient in the use of our data,” González said.