FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 2, 2015
The OpenGov Foundation – Nicko Margolies: email@example.com
Code for Miami – Cristina Solana: firstname.lastname@example.org, Rebekah Monson: email@example.com, Ernie Hsuing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Miami-Dade County Office of the Mayor – Michael Sarasti: email@example.com
Code for Miami & The OpenGov Foundation Launch MiamiDadeCode.org
New Online Legal Resource Makes Miami-Dade County Laws More Accessible, User-Friendly and Interactive for All Residents and Businesses.
MIAMI, FL (December 2, 2015) — Code for Miami and The OpenGov Foundation today announced the launch of MiamiDadeCode.org, a free online resource to empower all County residents to discover, access and better understand the laws that govern them. The new website helps non-lawyers understand and interact with Miami-Dade’s most important data set – the County code – without any restrictions, fees or artificial barriers. Miami-Dade is the first county government to open its legal code for citizens on the Internet, joining innovative cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Baltimore, as well as states like Florida and Virginia, in the growing AmericaDecoded network of user-friendly laws and legal codes.
“MiamiDadeCode.org is a great example of how Code for America and our local Code for Miami brigade are working closely with us to make government more open and accessible,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. “I strongly believe that this kind of transparency and engagement is essential to building a World-Class community.”
“The Decoded website is a valuable tool for professionals and the public that makes it easier to access and search through Miami-Dade County’s ordinance code,” said Justin Wales, Associate at Carlton Fields Jorden Burt and Senior Policy Advisor at Code for Miami. “It is, without question, better than 10 Super Bowls.”
“MiamiDadeCode.org unlocks tremendous opportunities for making the law more useful and understandable for residents and businesses alike,” said Seamus Kraft, Executive Director of The OpenGov Foundation. “Now, the people of Miami-Dade have a flexible, open source option for accessing the legal information they need, on their own time and on their own terms. I’m excited to see this incredible community-based effort grow along with citizens working inside and outside county government.”
MiamiDadeCode.org lifts and ‘liberates’ the County Code by transforming them into user-friendly, modern and interactive website formats. This switch delivers significant results: more clarity, context and public understanding of how the law impacts residents’ daily lives, families and businesses. For the first-time, MiamiDadeCode.org allows unrestricted reuse of county laws by everyday residents so that they can share, comment on and download not only the legal data itself, but also the free and open source State Decoded software powering the website. Even better, these efforts came at $0-cost to Miami-Dade taxpayers.
“MiamiDadeCode.org shows how people can make government better — and easier to access — so government can work better for the people.” said Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America. “Miami-Dade County is leading among counties in using the Internet to make the law accessible and meaningful to the public.”
“We are delighted at the potential for this tool to empower citizens to get more engaged with local government,” said District 8 County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava. “Broadening the conversation to include more ears, eyes and voices strengthens our democracy. The increased accessibility this tool will provide helps build upon the County’s efforts to promote government transparency and public trust.”
“Municode believes strongly in furthering transparency in government and has worked for 64 years to support the efforts of local governments in this regard. As such, we applaud OpenGov’s accomplishments in enhancing transparency and citizen engagement across the country,“ said Eric Grant, president of Municode. “Municode is proud to work with OpenGov and with our 3,750 city and county clients to help make governments more efficient, nimble and responsive. Municode has worked hard to create the nation’s most advanced municipal website, MunicodeNEXT, through which, over 90 million citizens can freely access their codes of ordinances on www.municode.com. Municode is committed to supporting OpenGov’s efforts as we work together to bring democracy closer to the people.”
MiamiDadeCode.org and the AmericaDecoded network are powered by The State Decoded, an open source software platform and API used to display legal codes. The free platform was originally developed by Waldo Jaquith in 2010 for Virginia, thanks to a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Since then, the network of open legal codes has grown to include Maryland and Florida, as well as the laws of Baltimore (MD), San Francisco (CA), Philadelphia (PA), Chicago (IL). Committed to using taxpayer dollars effectively and efficiently, The OpenGov Foundation and State Decoded teams have joined forces to ‘liberate’ the law online in every state, city and town in America – at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.
“Improving the way citizens interact with their governments and with each other is important to building stronger communities and fostering democratic values,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation. “Miami stands to benefit from this new tool; it will help put more information into the hands of residents so they can make decisions about their city and their lives.”