Vision, mission, values, and operating principles

Our vision:

The world as we’d like to see it

Local government can work for the people, by the people, in the digital age.

  • Services can be simple, accessible, and easy to use.
  • Outcomes can be measurably better.
  • Better can cost less.
  • We can serve everyone with respect and dignity.

It would be the biggest source of societal good for a generation. Let’s all build it together.

Our mission:

How we intend to make our vision real

Code for Buffalo uses the principles and practices of the digital age to team up with local government and the Buffalo community in order to expand access to technology and digital skills, enhance public services and quality of life, and deepen civic engagement and participation.

1. To expand access and skills

If great tools and services are inaccessible to those in the greatest need, it’s neither radical nor revolutionary. Focus on serving the most vulnerable in our society.

2. To make change real

Providing communities and local government with access to the resources and digital talent they need so that together we can meaningfully impact some of Buffalo’s toughest societal challenges.

3. To inspire public service

Connecting and convening people from inside and outside government, and from all over Western New York to inspire each other, share successes, learn, build, and shape a new culture of public service for the 21st century.

To do it all at scale, serving those who need it most.

Our values

What we are like as an organization and a community
  1. Empathy is our operating system. We have a deep empathy for the people we work with. We seek to understand the problems they face and we work tirelessly to serve them.
  2. No one is coming. It’s up to us. We don’t wait for others to ask us; we act. We don’t expect people to come to us; we come to them. We don’t talk change; we deliver it.
  3. Build the movement. No one organization can fulfill this vision; we will succeed through a movement that invites everyone to roll up their sleeves and do their part.

Our operating principles

The ideas that guide the decisions we make

Empower people with skills We support digital skill training programs and equitable access to internet.

Process before product. Too often, some in society mistakenly believe that technology alone can answer our world’s biggest problems. We don’t think technology can solve all our problems, but we do think that technology wielded as a tool by an engaged and informed public can.

People aren’t the problem. The problem is the problem. We respect and support public servants, and when we are critical of government outcomes, we blame the system, not the people. We are dealing with 20th century structures in a 21st century society.

Solve real problems. We solve problems that real people have, we make sure what we build works for them, and we continuously improve it. We solve real problems instead of creating elegant code and robust systems to solve imagined ones.

Build with, not for. We start with our users, the people affected by the service, and understand and respect their needs throughout every stage of the process in projects that impact them.

Locality knowledge is the most important and valuable type of data The knowledge that everyday residents have about their neighborhoods is the sort of interpersonal data that not even ‘big data’ companies have a way to tap into often.

Work lean, iterate quickly. Get a working minimum viable product (MVP) in front of users as early as possible and make continuous improvements based on how they use the service.

Impact not ideology. Government that works for all people doesn’t belong to one party or ideology. We welcome all political and social views that respect the principle that government should work effectively for all Americans with respect and dignity.

Non-partisan, but not neutral. We are an alliance of non-partisan groups, but that non-partisanship does not imply neutrality. This community has a vision for what government should be and will work to bring that vision into reality.

Default to open. We are guided by transparent procedures and build an open, participatory environment for all members. We use open source code and make our work accessible to everyone.

We are Code for Buffalo.

Est. 2018, Buffalo, NY. The Code for America Brigade of Western New York