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Five American cities have been selected for a random act of kindness from software developers. Boston, Boulder, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Seattle will all receive free web and/or mobile apps to help administer government and serve citizens, thanks to a program called Code for America.

Back in February, Code for America asked cities around the U.S. to submit their requests for applications — apps they wanted or needed to solve civic problems and engage citizens, specifically, apps that will promote transparency, participation and efficiency. For example, apps could include an online network to connect neighborhood groups with emergency first responders or a permitting system to simplify administration of small business licensing and fees.

This year, one of the applications that will be built is an Open311-type project. The product to be built for Philadelphia will allow citizens to monitor and give feedback on city hall proposals.

Now that the selected cities have been chosen, Code for America will screen and select a group of Fellows to build the apps over the course of ten months. Once each app is finished in January 2011, it becomes free to use and share for any other city.

Some of the communities Code for America is helping, such as Boulder and Seattle, have vibrant existing tech communities; we wonder whether developers will be selected from those towns to help create apps they’ll end up using as citizens, as well.

We like Code for America a lot; it ties into some of our core beliefs about social media for social good and free and open source software. If you’re a developer, we encourage you to apply for the Fellows program and tell us about your ideas and experiences.

What kinds of apps would you want Code for America to build for your town?

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Tags: code for america, developers, social good