Support networks and communities of practice

In this guide, we've talked a lot about the community you work with locally: the people in your town, city, or region. But through your work, you are also part of other communities, distributed around the country and the world. These are groups of people -- whether library workers, data intermediaries, or others interested in aspects of civic data -- who form support networks and communities of practice. Library roles around local civic data are still emerging and evolving. Leaning on support networks for advice, examples, and inspiration can help you to maintain your work.
The Civic Switchboard project was designed, in part, to help facilitate a community of practice among people working to connect libraries with civic data in their local communities. We've hosted workshops and conference calls, written blog posts, and are working to get an online discussion group started. But in this part of our guide, we'd like to highlight some other relevant networks and communities you may wish to connect with or explore.
There are a number of groups that bring together data intermediaries. These organizations are varied and have published resources on civic data, hold conferences and webinars, or host mailing lists you can join.
    • Community indicators "are measures that refer to population groups rather than individuals. (They indicate what’s happening at the community level, rather than the individual level.)" (University of Kansas, Community Tool Box). The CIC is a group focused on supporting availability and use of community indicators. Visit the CIC Toolbox for resources and events.
    • Code for America is a "national alliance of community organizers, developers, and designers that are putting technology to work in service of our local communities." There are currently 85 official brigades around the country that are hosting hackathons, community events, and programming Data Day and the National Day of Civic Hacking. Join the conversation on the Code for America Slack channel or check out your local brigade. In Pittsburgh, our brigade, Code for Pittsburgh, uses Meetup to publicize events -- you might find yours does the same!
    • The Interest Group on Government Records Transparency and Accountability “seeks to support a broader culture of records transparency in the digital age.” One of the group’s signature efforts is the Endangered Data Week, a series of events that “shed light on public datasets that are in danger of being deleted, repressed, mishandled, or lost.” There’s a monthly call and Google Group, and you can begin to get involved by visiting the Group’s Wiki.
  • csv,conf
    • This annual conference brings together “data makers” “to discuss data topics, and features stories about data sharing and data analysis from science, journalism, government, and open source.” You can find information about submitting and attend the next csv,conf here and watch talks from previous year’s meetings.
    • The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) analyzes federal environmental data, websites, institutions, and policy. Among the group’s efforts is the archiving of environmental datasets to ensure continued access. You can sign up for the EDGI newspaper and check out the group’s publications here.
    • An initiative of Harvard's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Civic Analytics Network is a network of urban Chief Data Officers. You'll find case studies on open data initiatives throughout the country, white papers, and recommendations for open data programs.
    • DASH is focused on "identify[ing] barriers, opportunities, promising practices and indicators of progress for multi-sector collaborations to connect information systems and share data for community health improvement." For library workers interested with health information, you'll find resources about navigating data sharing, privacy, and regulations like HIPAA.
    • The Civic Data Operators group allows those working to connect libraries with civic data in their local communities to exchange information, ideas, and resources. While the Civic Switchboard project has been a promoter of this community, the group is intended to have its own identity and sense of ownership beyond any particular project. Visit the Google group to join the list here.