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Announcing Adopta - SaaS-ifying government software

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A while back, before Clay and I had even conceived of DOBT, I tweeted:

Someone needs to create the 37signals of government software.

If you’re familiar with 37signals, you know that they’re behind Basecamp, Campfire, Highrise, and a bunch of other highly-regarded web applications. None of these apps are particular unique – there’s probably at least 10,000 other project management tools out there – but users love these apps because:

  1. They do one thing and do it well
  2. They start out free, and the price scales with the size of your organization
  3. They’re Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), so there’s nothing to install and they’re never out of date.

Our open government community has made some pretty some pretty big strides in the past decade. A lot of the cutting-edge apps and platforms that governments are using are open-source, so anyone can grab the code and deploy an instance for their city. But what happens when someone wants to use these applications, but doesn’t have the technical know-how to take the code, customize it, and host it themselves?

That’s why today we’re launching Adopta, a SaaS version of Code for America’s most-redeployed application, Adopt-a-Hydrant.

adopta screenshot

Adopt a Hydrant is one of CfA’s biggest successes. It was originally developed for the City of Boston in 2011, but the community quickly realized that it had applications beyond just adopting fire hydrants. In 2012, Honolulu launched “Adopt a Siren”, an application that allows citizens to take responsibility for tsunami sirens by checking to ensure their functionality and reporting the status to the City.

Today, Adopta empowers anyone, regardless of coding skills and technology know-how, to create their very own Adopt a Hydrant for their community. Every aspect of the site is customizable – so no matter if you want to adopt hydrants, storm drains, or banana stands, you’ll be able to tweak the website copy and images to fit.

So far this has only been a small side-project of ours, but we’re excited to test the waters and see where we can go with this SaaS-for-government model. If it piques your interest, give us a hand and help test out Adopta!

Adam Becker is a co-founder of The Department of Better Technology.

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