I’ve been reading a lot about innovation lately. Technological Innovation. Social Innovation. Disruptive Innovation.
But after reading a piece on collaborative dialogue, it solidified a term that defined what me and a whole bunch of other civic-minded thinkers have been working on for the last few months: Collaborative Innovation.
We all know that innovation can mean a new idea, method or device, but innovation must change the status quo. And that change is done by working across all types of disciplines. Gone are the sole experts that everyone used to rely on. Health care needs public health, who need nonprofits, who need government, who need programmers, who need civic volunteers, etc, etc. It’s how we learn from each other, take advantage of each other’s strengths, and create some awesome tools together.
Enter the Food Safety Project that started out as an innovative idea and made into a reality by collaborating with many people to benefit everyone in Chicago. This app, now called FoodBorne Chicago, is a great example of a practical application that merges public health practice with social media.
You could think of this as part Awareness for using 311 to report potential food violations, part Behavior Change to facilitate resident food establishment reporting through Twitter @FoodBorneChi coupled with a seamless online 311 system to track the progress of a complaint, part Prevention and Intervention against foodborne illnesses through more focused inspections that curb future exposures, and part Community Engagement using Chicago volunteers reaching out through Twitter to Chicago residents.
You can read, in layman’s terms, how the app works here, view the source code and issues tracker on GitHub here, or read the technology behind the app and it’s importance to public health here.
But I want to concentrate, right now on the people that made it happen. This list below doesn’t do justice to illustrate every contribution made or the amount of communication, time, expertise and dedication that all these wonderful people have donated. I’m so very humbled to have been asked to help out. Thank you to all of these government and civic hackers and do-gooders for making this happen.
The following is taken from the Food Borne App website:
This project has many contributors doing a myriad of positive things that fit together into this people-focused timeline:
- John Tolva, Chief Technology Officer, City of Chicago, and Daniel X. O’Neil, Executive Director of Smart Chicago Collaborative, for bringing Code for America to Chicago to do a project centered on Open 311
- Brett Goldstein, Chief Data Officer, and Chief Information Officer, City of Chicago, for starting the Twitter Classification Group and fostering a culture of analytics in the developer community.
- Brett Goldstein’s team at Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology, including Danielle DuMerer, who was instrumental in getting the Code for America Open311 project done, as well as IT Director Carleton Nolan, who led the integration with existing Motorola Solutions and Connected Bits technology.
- The Chicago Code for America fellows — Jesse Bounds, Angel Kittiyachavalit, Ben Sheldon, and Rob Brackett — for being so sensitive to the flow of the city and creating great software around it.
- Audrey Mathis, Director of 311 Services, for leading the way in getting that vast infrastructure prepared for openness.
- Q Ethan McCallum, for creating an early system that polls Twitter for food poisoning-related tweets after classification and helping to conceptualize the system workflow
- Joe Olson, for writing the code that collects tweets and stores them using Mongo DB and node.js
- Cory Nissen, for writing the code that classifies tweets and hand-coding thousands of them
- Ryan Briones, a part of the Twitter Classification Group and then as Director at the Department of Innovation and Technology for working the API and maintaining all of the enterprise technology systems that actually make this thing work
- Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health for his leadership and for first monitoring Twitter for the phrase “food poisoning” in Chicago in HootSuite. This was the genesis of the project, as first specced out here
- Juan-Pablo Velez, for designing the first interface and integrating the Google Places API (initially in the context of this Developer Challenge) as well as testing the system in the Open 311 API
- Scott Robbin, for developing the entire system, including the admin tool
- Gerrin Butler, Director of Food Protection for CDPH, for providing information on the food protection process and sharing her passion for public health
- Raed Mansour, for writing our admin manual and providing thought leadership on how to communicate with people on Twitter about their health
- Dr. Jason Miller, for writing the intro text and form prompts so that the info we collect is useful to health safety professionals. Another little-known fact: he is the conceptual genius behind the City’s Flu Shot app
- Chris Gansen, for setting up our server infrastructure and analytics system
Thanks, most of all, to the CDPH Food Protection Division, for actually doing the inspections that help keep us safe. All the tweets in the world can’t put a thermometer in a dairy case.
Thanks for that!
Finally, in the spirit of civic-minded volunteering, if you’re in Chicago, drop by Open Gov Hack Night, every Tuesday at 6PM to 10PM at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart, hosted by the people behind Open City Apps.
They state on their website, “Come join a group of passionate folks working at the intersection of open government, cities, and technology. This will be an evening of civic tech hacking, collaboration, learning and networking.” I couldn’t have said it better.
RSVP on Eventbrite today.