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Insights / November 19, 2013

Software is Not Always All About Software

By Dev Team

In June 2013, at Hack for MN, few civic-minded individuals gravitated towards an idea and extension of E-Democracy’s program. We imagined a technology to help neighbors connect at a hyper-local (and block-level) by giving people the ability to share information, and control how far they share that information.

The work we produced at the end of Hack for MN was exploratory and a tech demonstration of what we imagined could be, which we code named “Vicini.”

Since the beginning of the Vicini project, we have not written much code. In fact, more energy has been focused on defining the needs and goals, meeting with Steven Clift, E-Democracy’s Executive Director, and continuing to explore the concept.

Earlier this month, the CityCampMN 2013 unconference provided an opportunity to engage more people who have an interest in a tool like this, continue the discussion, and find additional contributors.


  • How do you include someone who is involved with the community, but for whom technology like smartphones may not be an option?
  • How do you build trust?
  • How do you maintain privacy?
  • How do you create adoption while maintaining trust and privacy?
  • The civic-minded and the tech-minded are not necessarily the same.
  • Not all neighborhood blocks are engaged with each other. Some are because they like to be, others because of necessity.

Twin Citians provided valuable insight into community issues and where a project like this may or may not help.

The following day at CityCampMN was a coding session, where we focused on the baseline neighborhood directory feature and @stpaultim updated the Vicini project’s wiki to reflect the purpose and discussion from the previous day.

We also found two additional code contributors @ballPointPenguin and @jcummins in addition to the original team.