(Photos courtesy of NewsWorks)
If you want to grow a community from the fringes to prominence, it helps to capture the attention of policy makers.
Over the last 10 years, a technology community has blossomed in Philadelphia. It began without permission but before long the Nutter administration championed its growth. Now to continue its strength ahead of the May 19 Democratic primary, the Philadelphia technology community ought to rally around issues it cares about.
That’s why Technical.ly Philly polled a dozen local tech leaders and curated what they want of a future mayor. We’ve distributed the resulting questionnaire to the prominent declared candidates, and they’ve agreed to assess where they stand on these policies. Then we’ll get to hear the candidates address these issues and others during the Philly Tech Week Mayoral Forum on Technology, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which we’re organizing. Our partners include the Free Library, Philly Startup Leaders, Code for Philly and Young Involved Philadelphia.
In addition to us at Technical.ly Philly, these questions were submitted and endorsed by the following tech community leaders:
- Chris Alfano, Jarvus Innovation and Code for Philly
- Robert Cheetham, Azavea
- Brigitte Daniel, Wilco Cable
- Jeff Friedman, Microsoft and OpenAccessPhilly
- Mark Headd, Civic Innovations and former city Chief Data Officer
- Michelle Lee, Textizen
- Bob Moul, Artisan
- Rick Nucci, Philly Startup Leaders and Guru
- Mjumbe Poe, OpenPlans
- Corinne Warnshuis, GirlDevelopIt
- Tracey Welson-Rossman, TechGirlz
The questionnaire has been received by the campaigns of Anthony Hardy Williams, Lynne Abraham, Doug Oliver and Nelson Diaz, all of whom have also committed to the forum. (Ken Trujillo agreed but dropped out, and Councilman Jim Kenney declared yesterday so we haven’t confirmed his participation yet.)
Here’s what we asked them to respond to. We’ll report back with what we find out:
- I support that if “civic innovation” is the use of new and more efficient ways to better serve citizens, then the City of Philadelphia would continue to develop a reputation for being one of the most innovative cities in the country under my tenure as Mayor.
- I support the need for supplementary educational opportunities in STEM, like robotics, and entrepreneurship for Philadelphia school children to be better prepared for careers of the future.
- I support prioritizing computing centers and digital literacy training in the City of Philadelphia budget for modern workforce development, leveraging the Free Library of Philadelphia, Community College of Philadelphia and other existing stakeholders to help develop a more inclusive and diverse innovation ecosystem, including more women and people of color.
- I support programs that aim to attract, retain and grow early stage businesses, like Startup PHL [MORE], Jump Start Philly and the Commerce Department’s strategy for establishing Center City ‘gateway offices’ for suburban knowledge economy firms [MORE].
- I support developing and implementing a plan for comprehensive municipal tax reform that includes rebalancing the percentages of city revenue that come from property and business taxes. [MORE]
- I support the development and execution of a plan for reducing the city’s wage tax to below three percent by 2020. [MORE]
- I support upholding the spirit of the 2012 Open Data Executive Order (1-12), including developing processes for the release of high-value city data [MORE] and the use of an open data advisory council for outside guidance on modern standards for ethics and efficiency. [MORE]
- I support retaining the Chief Data Officer position as an internal advocate for open data, transparency and efficiency and facilitating the position’s collaboration with pre-existing government agencies to do the same.
- I support using OpenDataPhilly.org, the country’s only big-city, community-operated, open data portal, to make releases of city data.
- I support the development, maintenance and use of APIs to distribute and leverage city data whenever possible, rather than static snapshot data sets. When necessary to provide static snapshot data sets, I support the delivery of city data and information in machine readable formats, like .XLS, .XML and .JSON.
- I support city procurement reform to enable the City of Philadelphia to more efficiently, transparently and modernly acquire the best goods and services, including the use of open source software when appropriate and preferring locally-based firms.
- I support maintaining the PhillyStat program (and related departmental programs such as Compstat) to create an internal consumer ecosystem for the City’s open data activities and facilitate better governmental performance and efficiency.
- I support the role private investment, like venture capital, must play in growing local communities through social entrepreneurship and other civic-minded business growth.
- I support a “dig once” policy, in which conduit for high-speed internet infrastructure must be installed whenever relevant city streets are uncovered for other maintenance, like on public water and gas infrastructure.
- Do you have any related comments, perspective or issues important to you?
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