Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Launches New Community Feedback Tool

August 20, 2012

Lauren Reid, Code for America

Nole Walkingshaw, Salt Lake City Planning Division

Salt Lake City Launches New Community Feedback Tool  
Code for America’s Textizen message tool helps residents shape City plan

SALT LAKE CITY – For the next four weeks, residents and commuters in Salt Lake City will encounter posters throughout neighborhoods, bus and transit shelters, recreation centers, community events and other public places that pose the question, “What is your favorite thing about Salt Lake City?”  Respondents are directed to text their answers to 801-430-9863.

Staff from Salt Lake City’s Planning Division will access that information through a web portal and use it to shape the city’s new comprehensive plan, Plan Salt Lake.

The text messaging interaction is powered by Textizen, a web and text-message application originally built by Code for America to gather feedback for the City of Philadelphia’s Philadelphia 2035 initiative. The application was recently redesigned to allow for reuse by other agencies and departments across the country.

“As a City, we’re always looking for ways to expand opportunities for public input and engagement,” said Mayor Ralph Becker. “This new digital tool enables residents to play a role in City decision making – even if they are unable to attend public meetings.”

“Code for America hears common needs from cities coast to coast,” said Mark Headd, government relations director for Code for America. “Replicating a grant or incentive program requires replicating a budget or multiplying staff. But replicating technology is cheap by comparison — so when cities have the same need, why reinvent the wheel?”

As Salt Lake City collects information from its residents, plans are also in the works to give the information back to the public. Salt Lake City Chief Information Officer Bill Haight has signed Code for America’s Open Impact pledge — a pledge to work towards a more open government.

“A transparent and inclusive government is a top priority for Salt Lake City,” said Haight. “We are committed as a City to earn the trust of our residents by not only opening up procedures and data so people can see what we’ve done and  understand why, but also to provide opportunity for engagement and shared governance.”

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Code for America ( is a national non-profit that connects talent from the tech industry with local government to make cities more open, efficient and engaging. Often nicknamed a “Peace Corps for Geeks,” Code for America recruits designers and developers for an 11-month fellowship where they partner with industry and government leaders to develop new ways of approaching civic challenges.

All Code for America projects are open source and freely available for reuse on GitHub. Textizen’s code is:

Plan Salt Lake ( is a vision document for Salt Lake City. A planning team is currently gathering community feedback that will help shape recommendations for Salt Lake City’s future. The plan will be used as a compass for all future City policy, from community master plans to the development of new trails.