Project Updates

NC Schools Report Cards Update #1

The NC Schools Report Cards were released and the data is "contained" in SAS. We have "liberated" it and made it available on our Open data Portal at ( Let's look this over and see if we can do some analysis and visualizations that make the data usuable by yhe public.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

NC Connect Update #10

NCConnects is live… and

Thanks to Matt R. for all the heavy lifting.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

CityGram for Raleigh/Triangle Update #2

Code for Cary has worked with Jim Van Fleet at Code for Charlotte to get the Triangle region added to Citygram.

There are issues properly locating addresses since Citygram was made for a city and not a region. Cary Brigade has been working to see if we can get this resolved.

The first dataset used is Crime incident data from the Raleigh and Durham open data portals and the Cary Brigade open data portal.

Posted on by Ian Henshaw

Raleigh Budget Explorer Update #1

  • Released new budget data into the site June 16
  • Cleaned up repo
  • Ready for folks to take feature augmentation

Posted on by Adam Martin

CityCamp NC Update #3

Our event is shaping up quite nicely. We are looking to have lightning talks on June 11. Confirmed speakers so far are Twyla McDermott (Charlotte Open Data Portal Manager), Carolina Sullivan (Wake County Commissioner), Lauren Parker (Go Triangle — regional transit organization), Lisa Abeyta (AppCityLife), and we've got a few others in the works. Also, on that night, we will have a "Taste of City Camp" where we will walk through what participants can expect during the unconference and we'll have mock pitches via updates from the brigade.

On Friday, June 12, we have our unconference that will be kicked off with a GIS panel and a keynote from Mark Headd.

Then on Saturday, June 13 we will have our hackathon with several things happening in parallel. Our traditional CityCamp competition, Code for Triangle projects (maybe a Code for Greensboro project), and we are looking to partner with Girl DevelopIt to see if they want to run a coding class that day.

We are also looking to partner with IT-Ology to see if they want to run a training course. Lisa Abeyta from AppCityLife is also interested in doing a boot camp for AppCityLife.

Posted on by Jason Hibbets

CityCamp NC Update #2

We are making great progress with CityCamp NC 2015 planning. Our next meet-up is on April 13:

We have marketing, speaker, and sponsorship committees going. We could use some help with logistics.

Mark Headd, Accela, and formerly Code for America is our keynote speaker. We need help with fundraising and getting more sponsors.

Posted on by Jason Hibbets

NC Connect Update #9

Heroku is trialling new pricing levels for their dynos. Here’s the verbatim text they gave:

Free – Experiment in your own dev or demo app with a web and a worker dyno for free. Sleeps after 1 hr of inactivity. Active up to 12 hours a day. No custom domains. 512 MB RAM.

Hobby – Run a small app 24×7 with the Heroku developer experience for $7/dyno/mo. Custom domains. Run a maximum of one dyno per Procfile entry. 512 MB RAM.

Standard 1X, 2X: Build production apps of any size or complexity. Run multiple dynos per Procfile entry to scale out. App metrics, faster builds and preboot. All Hobby features. 512MB or 1GB RAM. $25 or $50/dyno/mo. ​ Performance – Isolated dynos for your large-scale, high-performance apps. All Standard features. Compose your app with performance and standard dynos. 6GB RAM. $500/dyno/mo.

It appears to be an attempt to cut down the amount of freeloaders using Heroku. Nowadays, especially with faster code and faster computers, a standard 512MB dyno can power websites with tens of thousands of hits per hour. Few web apps need more than 1 web dyno, and worker dynos are often not needed. This means that Heroku would only get paid via add-ons, but most add-ons are provided by third parties.

In this new pricing structure, you can’t pop up a free site and leave it running 24/7—it would cost you $7/month instead. Any real app can no longer live on the free tier, so I would expect the proportion of paying customers to increase under this new pricing scheme. Instead of Heroku being the “obvious” choice for a web app because it’s free, you could instead measure the $7/month cost against alternatives:

Free tier of Google App Engine—as far as I know, GAE’s free tier is still useable for real apps. But, you’re limited to PHP, Java, Go, or Python plus the quirks of App Engine’s platform.

dotCloud—I don’t understand dotCloud as I’ve never used it, but they seem to price things by $4.32/month per 32MB of RAM used. It seems a bit steep to me, but maybe there’s something I’m missing.

AWS—A t2.micro would suit any small app just fine, and it (along with a tiny RDS database) would fall under the AWS free tier for a year. A t2.micro has 1GB of RAM and costs about $9.52/month outside of the free tier.

Other commodity VPS providers—Digital Ocean starts a $5/month for a 512MB VPS. Linode starts at $10/month for a 1GB VPS.

Many hobbyists value their time spent configuring Linux at approximately $0/hour, so you’d have to calculate that cost along with lock-in costs for each alternative. Note that Heroku hasn’t announced what will happen to the old pricing tier, so existing users may be grandfathered in or may be forced to switch.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

NC Connect Update #8

Clarifying a part of the model. There are two approaches to the problem of data updates/curation. One require all participating agencies to to cleanse the data and output in a pre-defined prescribed format(Open Refferal) or two, meet them where they are and get the data in what ever format they are using it now. As long as its, digital(that can include PDF) we can then mold the data into a standard format. The second problem does suffer from the problem that less data will be available at the onset, but the users of the system will see some results more quickly and with less effort on their part.

Hopefully this will show them the usefulness of the system and bring them along naturally and encouraging them to gather and maintain more through data. The first approach will provide richer data earlier, but will suffer from agencies lacking the resources to gather and maintain the data. In other words, they have to do a lot more work up front with the promise that it pay off later.


Posted on by Chris Mathews

NC Connect Update #7

Had an encourage phone call with a state level agency looking at our project. They like the simplicity of the site and general approach to the problem. Moving forward going to give them access to the test site as an admin. See where it goes.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

NC Connect Update #6

The web scraping has gone slower than expected. Unhandled erros which required code tweaks in place. On the final 100 pages and going over the others. As I have heard in my interviews with providers, they have gamed the system. Service titles include location and service category all over the place. Going to require a lot of curation and culling of records now.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

NC Connect Update #5

NC 211 site does this functionality but the functionality is difficult to use. Scraping the site as I learn Python to pull down the data and port it to the application.

Need help with telling the story and adding features. Thanks.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

CityCamp NC Update #1

CityCamp NC 2015 planning is under way. At the meet-up on March 3, we plan to make updates to the website, create a project plan, and get organized.

Posted on by Jason Hibbets

Where's my school bus Update #4

Some good activity on the page GitHub project over the last few weeks. No active development happened at the February 3 meet-up, so anyone who wants to contribute should look at the issues queue.

In between meet-ups, Jason Hibbets did have a kickoff call with Wake County Public School Systems communications office and was able to verify that the school buses do have a GPS service and there is a 5-year contract in place—the specific service is uncertain, but we will find out soon.

The WCPSS transportation team is excited to work with the Code for Raleigh brigade and explained that there would be some policy issues that would need to be taken care of before any type of deployment. We shouldn't need to worry about this, but should be aware that this will be a step in the process down the line.

Posted on by Jason Hibbets

Where's my school bus Update #3

Great jump start to the Where's my school bus project tonight.

We had Jim Scarboroug­h, Jason Draper, Kheang Lim, John Skarbek, and myself huddled around a TV with Drapper at the helm coding, debugging, and finally making a fake school bus appear in Boston.

What we did tonight:

  • Downloaded the app and got it running locally to display a location.
  • Added several issues to GitHub queue, see:

Next items to work on:

Must do: Need review of Drapper's pull request by another developer.

  • Configure where the map starts
  • Specify fake data in development
  • Fake login for test / Need real credentials
  • i18n

Open questions

  • Need to get real data / understand how the data will be delivered from WCPSS

Posted on by Jason Hibbets

Where's my school bus Update #2

Jason Hibbets had a brief conference call with Chris Osgood and Nigel Jacob from New Urban Mechanics (Boston) on Tuesday, December 9. Here are some notes from that conversation:

  • Where's my school bus authentication: Parents last name, student ID, student date of birth — little to no issues with security
  • The project was piloted with three groups for the beta: 1) a k-8 school, 2) special education committee, 3) Greater Boston school admins
  • GPS vendor is Zonar -
  • The service is hosted in the cloud on heroku with an integration to the Zonar API
  • Routes - bus routes are not in the system, the app only shows the current location of the bus (via bus numbers—which causes issues sometime if buses are in the shop)

Next steps - trying to meet with Wake County Public School System communications director and other stakeholders from transportation

Posted on by Jason Hibbets

NC Connect Update #4

Right now I am in the process of refactoring the database for the future upgrades

Done: The actual refactoring of the database schema

Underway: Reworking the import scripts to match new schema

To-Do Modify the API for read/write access Rewire the front end to match the new API.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

NC Connect Update #3

The URL's for the prototype are:



Contact me and I will get logins setup to access the backend.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Where's my school bus Update #1

During the December 2, 2014 brigade meet-up Jason Hibbets pitched the project idea to the group. After a meeting last with with Caroline Sullivan, Wake Wounty Board of Commissioners, we believe we have the political buy-in for citizens to help solve a pain-point like this for Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) parents.

Over the next month, we'd like to have a discussion about how this project could take shape and identify the potential concerns from parents and any technical challenges to implement.

In January, we will work on a more robust project plan and determine a path forward for 2015.

Posted on by Jason Hibbets

NC Connect Update #2

I'm not a Heroku hero, more of a Heroku zero but I have the platform up and running.

Frontend App

Backend - Admin and API access

Let me know what y'all think.

Posted on by Chris Mathews

NC Connect Update #1

Looking to get a test site stood up on Heroku or another cloud service.

Is there a Heroku hero around?

Posted on by Chris Mathews

CityGram for Raleigh/Triangle Update #1

This is a project that is being built as part of the CfA fellowship that allows citizens to opt-in to notifications from local governments.

Want to determine the feasibility of standing it up locally and contributing to the code.

Some first things on my mind.

  1. How does the government create the notification? Email, does the app scrape a website/RSS feed?

  2. How would we advertise the availability

  3. Community buy-in, would this be healthy?

Posted on by Chris Mathews

Code for North Carolina Platform Update #1

Brigade Forum Software: Code for NC Discourse

What? Who?

The Code for NC Discourse forum platform ( is designed and intended for all North Carolina CfA Brigades to utilize for discussion and collaboration.


We want to break down the natural communication silos each Brigade develops to encourage regional and statewide collaboration. We also want to reduce the friction and redundancy with the efforts required for standing up tools by each Brigade.


The Code for NC Discourse platform is powered by open source Discourse hosted on AWS and supported by Code for Raleigh. AWS is funded by CfA credits. Code for Raleigh is acting as the system administrator and owner of the domain account.

Organized by Brigades

Each Brigade is organized by categories:



Anyone in the public (members/ gov folks/ hackers) from all Brigades can create accounts at and subscribe to thier specific Brigade through the use of categories. Creating accounts is easy through Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Github authentication.

Read More and Provide Feedback

Posted on by Reid Serozi

Code for Raleigh Website Update #1

New Page Added! Please Review and provide suggestions to change the "About" Page. Who We are, contact information and mission statement is included.

Review the page:

Posted on by Reid Serozi

Top 5 projects Update #1

During the meet-up on October 7, there was a general discussion about how to work better with the City of Raleigh and the Technology and Communications Committee. We decided that it was best to come up with a top five list of projects and present them to city council. The brigade would provide a proof of concept and initial testing/deployment, then present back to the Council/committee at regular intervals to build our reputation and prove our value.

The purpose of the thread started on the Code for Raleigh forum is to start a discussion on which existing projects we should consider, then proiritize/rank them. Code for America has a listing of apps at (note the difference between free and paid apps).

Please feel free to suggest an app on the thread.

Posted on by Jason Hibbets