The OpenPlans way

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 2.50.57 PMChicago DOT recently launched a new bike parking requests website, using Shareabouts. It’s a neat project, and bike parking requests are flooding in.

Beyond being a neat example of responsive government, the project is also a great case study for how we work at OpenPlans. Here’s why:

Shareabouts is an open source software project. That means anyone can download and set up their own Shareabouts maps, without working with OpenPlans. And, everyone is welcome to participate in identifying problems, making suggestions and submitting code.

CDOT’s ideas for their bike parking map nicely overlapped with some new features we’ve been looking to add to Shareabouts – address lookups, so you can search for an address to zoom the map; and geocoding, to automatically tag new places with their ward, neighborhood, or district. We included these features in our scope of work, and built them for Chicago’s needs. But we built them into the core Shareabouts project first, so everyone else can use them right away.

Taxpayer dollars spent on software development aren’t going into creating proprietary, locked-down tools. No city will pay again for the work Chicago funded. And at the same time, anyone else running their own Shareabouts gets the new features too. 

Everyone wins: our client gets a beautiful website with new features they requested, and other cities and towns will now be able to use these same features in future projects.

We’re proud to work with great cities like Chicago, and we’re proud of these contributions to open, effective tools for community involvement. If you work with us, we craft tech tools that help you today, and at the same time help everyone else in the future. That’s the OpenPlans way.