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Latest Project Activity

School Navigator Update #15

  • Analyzed/Reviewed 80 survey responses
  • Discussed strategy for info collection on School Profiles
  • Mocked up and discussed UX improvements to make on mapping tool
  • Scoped v2 on Waffle

Lot's of new backlog items on waffle

Posted on by Adam Martin

School Navigator Update #14

Updates for the week:

  • Sarah —- Shared & reviewed survey results. Starting to write up summary.
  • Jeremy —- Triaged tickets.
  • Alex —- Introed Iron Yard student ( ) to project, merged his PR, and deployed.
  • Adam & Colin —- Met with PTA council. Discussed further outreach opportunities.

Posted on by Alex Lemann

Alpha Launch: School Navigator

Exploring Durham Public Schools with Ease

When Alex Lemann, 32, started thinking about raising a family and buying a home in Durham, he was amazed to find that there was no single website where he could find all the public-funded schools — neighborhood, magnets and charters — on a map. Much less understand the different zoning complexities or compare schools in any way.

As member of Code for Durham, a local volunteer group of civic-minded technologists and community advocates, he brought this challenge to our group. We believe all citizens deserve the best user experiences possible when it comes to getting information about tax-funded services, regardless of one’s views on education policy. So we took a second look at the existing DPS website and adapted it to a more user-friendly, map-based interface using more modern technology.

Many months and Github commits later, Code for Durham is proud to present the alpha release of Durham’s School Navigator @

School Navigator (Alpha) seeks to make it easier to understand the local public school options, and to support Durham Public Schools (DPS) in their mission. We have reached out to partner with leaders at DPS and the DPS Parent-Teachers Association to ensure we are supporting them.

School Navigator in two steps…

Phase 1 — De-mystify local zoning!

We heard from many parents and friends that figuring out what zone you belonged to was way too difficult. It took parents hours to discuss and research the options. And while we appreciate the social bonding effect of relying on word of mouth for all information, that’s not how this should work!

Our beta release reflects Phase 1 — showing you all the schools and all of their zones, when those zones are factors in your ability to access that school based on your residential location.

Phase 2 — More data

This is where you come in. We want to bring more relevant information into the school decision-making process, but want inputs from parents on what is relevant and needed. We are interested in sites like the recently released the College Scorecard as a model of simple but informative interface for sharing data.

Please take a quick survey to improve School Navigator, a new community based website for Durham parents by October 20th:

Sharing is Caring

Below is a blurb we’d love for you to share with your friends or neighborhood groups or other relevant listserves in email as well.

Please take a quick survey to improve School Navigator, a new website for Durham parents. Did you ever have trouble figuring out which school zone you live in? Or wish you had better access to information about public schools in Durham? School Navigator is a new community-led website created to meet these needs. We are looking for your feedback, parents, on how to make it better! Please take 5–10 minutes to complete our survey here by October 20th:

Our goals in this community effort

Help parents understand the public schools available to their family and make informed schooling decisions based on accurate and complete information Provide a common platform for all public schools to share information about their offerings and accomplishments with parents We aspire to apply most of the principles of the U.S. Digital Services Playbook to our Code for Durham projects (at least as applicable for being a volunteer led group). Some of those principles include:

  1. Understand what people need — we’ve done 80 user tests to get initial feedback and are engaging the Parent-Teachers Association to get input to the design of phase 2
  2. Keep it simple and intuitive — the search + map interface choice is meant to simplify the experience
  3. Address the whole experience from start to finish — eventually, we would like to address the entire experience parents go through in choosing a school or a place to live based on schools

If you are a User Experience Designer, please reach out @codefordurham - We need your help entering this next phase of the project! If you are a python, angular developer, check out our Github repo.

Code for Durham
Code for Durham

School Navigator Update #13

mega props for megamilestones, team!

  • Partnering: Presented prototype to Durham Public Schools PTA and Chief Communications officer with extremely positive responses
  • User testing feedback: Completed user testing with 80 individuals via Duke Engineering School's Design Thinking Class (thanks!)
  • Data quality testing: ran 1000 test addresses throughout area both DPS and SchoolNav sites to test accuracy of results with 90-95% successful match
  • Finished Parent Survey and sent out to a few friendlies

Posted on by Adam Martin

NC Datapalooza Finale Wrapup

PredictifyMe CEO Rob Burns asked, “If you are trick-or-treating at Halloween, and get a Snickers bar, what would you assume about those candy-givers?” Turns out they are most probably a Republican.

And based on a combination of open and private data, his firm found that lollipops are in turn the most highly correlated Halloween sweets with Democratic households.

That was the flavor of the event tonight at the 3rd Annual NC Datapalooza finale in Raleigh at the Red Hat Annex. We also heard from the new Cary CIO Nicole Raimundo, who made an appeal for more storytelling in open data world, and Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon, who spoke of key tech trends that data is enabling.

And of course, the demos from the three NC Datapalooza finalists.

The Results

(1) Grand Prize Winner: Open511 wants to aggregate and facilitate road closure from multiple municipalities to make data easily consumable by the apps we use like Google Maps/Waze, TomTom (who uses those anymore?), and others.

(2) Best use of ESRI Technology Prize Winner: PointsOfNote, with 10 yr. old Gavin Clark and father Will Clark, makes historical cultural markers data engaging through application with routing capabilities and pre-packaged tours for economic development and tourism boards.

(3) BernieSez wants to help moneyball the criminal justic system. This finalist has done the hard work of making 35,000,000 records received on CD useable and analyzable. They lambasted the openness of NC Court system, then after analyzing 44,000 misdemeanor marijuana arrest records, showed which NC towns have the most bias of arrests of African-Americans for this crime, and which judges are.most and least friendly to African-Americans with these misdemeanors. Read how it works.

BernieSez could be a great partner for phase 2 of the Code for Durham project to visualize NC traffic stop data with partner Southern Coalition of Social Justice to be demoed by our own co-captain Colin Copeland of Caktus Group in Oakland next week at the Code for America Summit.