Refresh Philly: May 2009 Recap

Once again, May’s Refresh had 100+ people in attendance. This month we had “punch and pie,” but I doubt that was the reason for the numbers. Hoping they were there for this month’s speakers, Kellie Carter and Dave Cooksey spoke about user-centered design, it’s history and method.  Followed by Allen Frank, the CIO of Philadelphia, talking about Philly’s digital future.

Allen is on a mission to work out a plan for using the funds from Obama’s Broadband Stimulus Package to improve Philadelphia’s technical offerings. He started his talk by telling us about his background which suggests he “gets it.” Then covered some of the complexities that make up Philly’s technical challenges.

  • Listed as number 27 of 30 most wired cities
  • High percentage of low income households
  • Only 37% have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Percent of college graduates even fewer
  • Initial Wireless Philly project fell apart due to service partner failure

He also covered some of the goals:

  • Increased citizen access to Internet and city services via the Internet
  • Enhanced public safety
  • Aid youth and education (Philly net)
  • Connect patients/students to schools and hospitals
  • Create more Jobs (versus jobs) via a tech based growth sector
  • Add a WI-MAX network to expand public accessibility

The best part was that all these facts and figures were leading up to a request for our input. Not that I have the solution myself, but as a group the ideas were flowing. Some of that energy continued online at the Refresh Philly forums.  Even better, June’s Refresh is going to be a big brainstorming event.  Ideally putting to use some of the methods of rapid prototyping as explained by Todd Warfel of Message First, whom spoke at March’s Refresh event.

Links:
March Refresh
May Refresh
June Refresh
Refresh Philly forums
Todd Warfel

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