As children we were taught to share with others. Though sharing may have gone out of vogue for a while, the collaborative nature of web 2.0 brought it back. However, some people never learned to share and when push came to shove, embracing emerging technologies didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped.

Sharing Code and Best Practices

If you haven’t guessed, we’re talking about the government. It’s never a surprise to learn that government agencies don’t like to share and don’t do it regularly.

But wouldn’t it be nice if instead of having to build or buy technology solutions independently, cities, states, offices and agencies could work together? If it is sounds too good be to be true, meet Civic Commons.

In a nutshell, Civic Commons works to help institutions share code and best practices. But it’s so much more than that. Sponsored by two nonprofits, Code for America and OpenPlans, the independent non-profit organization helps the government identify, document and relicense technology they currently use so it can be shared with other government agencies.

With enough shared licenses, Civic Commons aims to build a repository of applications and list them in a directory that other governments can find and use as needed.

Learning Opportunities

Federal Support & Innovation

The District’s Chief Technology Officer Bryan Siva introduced the project this week at Gov 2.0 in Washington, D.C. But lest you think that this is just another failed attempt to unite government officials, Civic Commons has the support of several big names, U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra and the Obama Administration for starters. Kundra has even agreed to donate the Federal IT Dashboard to the project.

Even with a large repository of applications, agencies won’t get far without some well-trained developers to implement it all. Civic Commons thought of that, too. They are also helping to build a network of developers and code contributors, so as to facilitate and foster innovation as new applications are created for the project.

Civic Commons also has the good fortune of having a board of advisors made up of government CTOs, CIOs and Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO, O’Reilly Media. But like any technology start-up, the next six months will be the true test. According to their website’s roadmap, Civic Commons will spend the next year securing funding, hiring staff and selling their mission to government agencies around the country.

We'll be watching.