Ally Buchanan
Ally Buchanan
Ally is a reporter hailing from Hampton, New Brunswick. She is currently in her first year at Renaissance College, hoping to someday pursue a career in law.
March 24, 2019

Local computer programmers giving back

Civic Tech Fredericton has grown into a prominent community organization | Photo by Sandi MacKinnon

Civic Tech is a non-profit organization that brings together software developers and computer programmers from cities across Canada to give back to their communities.

Tech professionals donate their time and skills to construct websites, apps, and other tools for local non-profit organizations. Everything they develop is free and open source to Civic Techs across the country.

The Fredericton branch was originated in November 2017 following a Code for Canada conference in the city, during which the concept was introduced to the local tech community. They called for champions of the initiative in the area, and from there a small collective tech professionals and community organizers began.

Civic Tech Fredericton has now grown into a prominent community organization, comprising of members from IBM, Bluespurs, GeoNB, the Institute of Research Data and Training, as well as students from NBCC and UNB.

Sandi MacKinnon, the organizer and soul of the group, helped found Civic Tech Fredericton, and has seen is grow since its inception. She said it is not difficult to attract new members, and involvement with the team can often offer further opportunities. The branch includes members from all around the world, many of whom have found their place in the community because of it.

“You wouldn’t believe how many of these new Canadians found work through here,” she said.

MacKinnon states that involvement with Civic Tech is very high, because the city’s active tech industry wants be involved in its community.

“People in our IT community want to give back. But they don’t want to sell tickets, or fundraise,” she said. “They want to use their skills.”

Branches have now been developed in Saint John, Halifax, and Charlottetown, but the Fredericton team remains a leader in the area. Products developed here have been shared with Civic Techs in communities across Canada.

“We were the first in atlantic canada, and even now we are the go to for the most experience,” MacKinnon said.

The first project they launched was the River Watch mobile app, a flood forecasting system, is the first of its kind.

“It is the only provincial government tool that is mobile friendly. And we created that,” MacKInnon.

The team is currently developing a community service coordination tool called the Caring Calendar. Their next project is expected to be a meal planning tool, in collaboration with the Greener Village Community Food Centre, and will link provided recipes to a grocery database so users and plan and budget accordingly.

MacKinnon describes the Civic Tech team as a tight knit group of friends.

“It’s like a club,” she said. “Like a family.”

She said that Civic Tech Fredericton welcomes individuals of all experience levels on a voluntary basis, and encourages support of an organization that is leading so many positive projects in the community.

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