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: https://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.

2 exciting opportunities for Blockwatch Captains!

We have 2 invitations for West Seattle Blockwatch Captains coming up this week and weekend!  Chach Sikes, one of the Code for America fellows who is working on the “Seattle Project”, will be back in town then. As you may recall from our earlier postings or meeting updates, the Seattle Project is a set of online community tools that the Code for America group is building.

Here are 2 opportunities for you to see what they’ve come up with:

1)  They are seeking a few Blockwatch Captains who are willing to try out and provide feedback on the new Blockwatch Captain finder tool. It will take approximately  ½ hour; you can sign up for a timeslot on either Saturday or Sunday, July 30 or 31st, between 2:30-5:30. If you’d like to participate, here is the email from Chach with specifics:

Help test out a new web-based Block Watch Captain Finder

We are looking for West Seattle Block Watch Captains to help test and give feedback on a new web-based tool to help map Block Watches in Seattle. Code for America is building this tool as part of their project for the City of Seattle. The tool provides a directory of Block Watch Captains and the ability to map  your block watch. The tool can integrate with other public databases of community groups, so that more people can find Block Watches closer to home.

Code for America would greatly appreciate feedback from Block Watch Captains. We invite you to help us test the site in a way that will provide the most useful feedback. It takes about 30 minutes, and is pretty easy – it just involves using a website and talking out loud you click around. We will videotape this, which will help us learn what works better for you.

If you are interested in getting involved, we have several appointment slots for 30 minute interviews on Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31 from 2 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Interviews will be at a coffeeshop in West Seattle and/or at a  local Block Watch Organizer’s home.

If you would like to volunteer your time, please contact Chach Sikes chacha@codeforamerica.org and we can schedule your appointment.

If these times do not work for you, but you are interested in helping out, do let us know and we can try to arrange for something.

Thank you so much! Your participation & feedback will make Seattle that much better of a place to live.

Chach Sikes

Code  for America Fellow, 2011

emails: chacha@codeforamerica.org, chachasikes@gmail.com

twitter:  @chachasikes

mobile: 415-425-9325

2) Code for America will be giving a demo of the new Block Watch Captain finder tool, and another community-focused tool, to the West Seattle Blockwatch Captains Network on Friday, July 29th at 4 PM at the West Seattle Branch of  the Seattle Public Library (near the Met Market in Admiral), 2306 42nd Ave SW Seattle,  WA 98116, 206-684-7444. We are really looking forward to having these new tools and this is a great opportunity to give your input/feedback. You don’t have to RSVP to attend, but if you know in advance that you plan to  attend, please do so: wsblockwatchnet@gmail.com

Thanks everyone!

Deborah Greer

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:
https://wsblockwatchnet.wordpress.com

Twitter:
http://twitter.com/wsblockwatchnet

Monthly Meeting:  4th Tuesday 6:30-8  SW Police Precinct Meeting Room (2300 SW Webster)

Still time to comment; survey deadline extended!

We’ve extended our survey deadline through Sunday, 2/13, 8 AM on Monday, 2/14, to accommodate some new members. So, that gives all of you another chance to participate.

Please take a moment to share your opinions, ideas & comments regarding online tools for Blockwatch Captains. Even if you aren’t a Blockwatch Captain, does your neighborhood or BW group have needs or solutions that we should consider?

Here is the link to the survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6VVJV83

Many thanks to those of you who have already participated! Your input is already helping shape some very cool tools for Blockwatch!

My Neighborhood Maps now includes crime incidents

The Seattle My Neighborhood Maps has been updated to include incidents from police-reports (thanks to Darren for posting this to our Facebook group!): http://web1.seattle.gov/mnm/policereports.aspx

And, here’s some additional info about it from WSB:
http://westseattleblog.com/2010/06/west-seattle-crime-watch-spd-puts-more-info-online