Try the new Block Watch Finder tool!

[Update, July 2013: This post was originally published in October 2011; we have not modified or updated it since, but want to add a note regarding the status of this tool since the link to it no longer functions. The tool described below was unsupported once the Code For America development team fellows moved on to other projects. The entire citygroups.org site, and the BW Finder tool which was a component of that, has since been taken offline.]

Last night West Seattle Blockwatch Captains’ Network (WSBWCN) rolled out a “soft launch” of the new Blockwatch Captain Finder Tool at our monthly meeting. This is the tool created by Code for America within the scope of their Seattle Project. WSBWCN has been focused on getting this tool for over a year now so that Blockwatch captains can empower themselves and network with each other, and so any citizen can answer for themselves the most frequent question we get: “Is there a Blockwatch in my neighborhood?”. These were our primary goals when the West Seattle Blockwatch Captains’ Network organization was created. Now, we hope that with the help of Blockwatch captains all over West Seattle, we can kick off this pilot project with a big response!

You’ll find the Block Watch Finder tool at: http://seattle.citygroups.org/blockwatch.

Follow the link and enter your Blockwatch group’s data. And, tell every other captain (or help your fellow captains) to do the same!  We’ve got a lot of directory and map space to fill up!

The tool is not perfect (yet!). There are some known issues including features that are not yet complete or working as we hoped they would.  But, the main features are solidly in place:

  • You can list and map your Blockwatch area so that others can find you.
  • You can search the directory to find other Blockwatch groups and get their contact information.

The Code for America fellows will still be doing some work on this until their fellowship ends in mid-November, so there may be intermittent times when the site is down.  Don’t despair, just try again a little later.

We’ve posted the demo/tutorial that we showed at last night’s meeting here on our website. Click the slide or this direct link to open and view the tutorial (.pdf file format).

Click this slide to launch WSBWCN tutorial for BW Finder Tool

Click this slide to open the WSBWCN tutorial for the new BW Finder Tool!

We will continue to develop this tutorial as issues are discovered and as the developers make further changes to the tool.  If you need additional help or have questions, or if you are willing to help someone else who has questions, let us know!  You can use our Facebook page for this purpose, or contact us via email or phone; all are included in the auto-signature below.

Over the next year, our goal is to build the directory of West Seattle Blockwatch groups. Longer-term, we plan to encourage the rest of the city, and then other cities across the country, to participate. As well, our goal is to maintain and improve the tool; we want your ongoing feedback and ideas on ways to make it even more useful.

If you are interested in being a part of a volunteer “community” to improve and maintain this tool please let us know.  It was developed with Drupal which is an open-source content management platform that powers millions of websites and applications. It’s built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world.  For more information about Drupal and the Drupal community, click here: http://www.drupal.org.

Thanks in advance for your participation, comments and efforts to help revitalize and grow the Blockwatch program!  We extend special thanks to Chacha Sikes and all the Code for America fellows, the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology (DoIT) group and the SW Police Precinct for all their help and support!

Deborah Greer & Karen Berge

On behalf of the West Seattle Blockwatch Captains’ Network (WSBWCN)

Email:  wsblockwatchnet@gmail.com

Phone: 206-424-0040

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=337488370959

Website: http://wsblockwatchnet.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wsblockwatchnet

Monthly Meeting:  4th  Tuesdays, 6:30-8 PM, SW Police Precinct Meeting Room (2300 SW Webster St.); no meetings in July, August, November and December.

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