Headshot Mjumbe Poe

Urban Technologist

I use technology as a tool to help build the capacity of individuals and communities to shape their cities, their neighborhoods, and their own lives. This perspective of technology as a means for social empowerment guides my professional and "extracurricular" development.

I primarily work in Web stacks with Python and/or JavaScript at the core. I have experience in several other languages, and am committed to using the best tools in context.

Recent Positions

Urban Technologist at Poe Public

2015 - Present

I specialize in the planning and implementation of technology strategies for Urban Planning projects. I use my experience with a variety of civic software to advise organizations on how technology can help them achieve their project goals. I see the technology strategy through from beginning to end.

Would you like Poe Public to work with you? Get in touch.

Digital Services Architect at The City of Philadelphiia

2015 - 2017

Within the Office of Innovation and Technology and, later, the Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT) group, I researched, designed, and developed processes and tools to help City departments collect, use, and release data. Among other things, my projects included:

I developed an interim Homeless Management Information System for the Office of Supportive Housing to help them avoid regressing to a paper-based data collection system, which would have jeopardized their ability to deliver HUD reports required for a significant portion of their funding. The implementation was part of an experiment to see whether Django’s Admin application would be a good platform for quickly building custom data-entry tools for departments.

I implemented an interactive data visualization of occurrences of “bullet voting” -- when voters choose only one of 5 allowed candidates for At-large Council positions -- during the 2015 City Council primary election. The visualization allowed the City Controller’s office to communicate a confusing phenomenon to the general public. The implementation used Carto’s extensions on top of Leaflet for mapping, and C3 for charting. The project was completed on a tight timeline of approximately two weeks.

I researched and began designing processes to centralize deployment, management, and reporting around the City’s ETL pipelines. Based on the challenges that we faced in ODDT around ETL, I identified and began implementing an instance of Airflow. I also began documenting recommendations on how we should be building ETL scripts, using petl as a data transformation and validation library.

Software Developer at OpenPlans

2012 - 2015

I worked on a small team with amazing people on projects that empower people to get involved in planning for the future of their communities and cities. Among other projects, we worked on the following:

Starting in 2012, we developed Shareabouts, a flexible tool for gathering geography-specific public input. I was primarily responsible for developing the Django REST Framework-based Shareabouts data server, reporting tools, and core parts of the mapping interface.

In early 2014, we began working on OpenPlans, an outgrowth of our experience building tools and web sites for urban planning projects. I worked on many parts of this project: server-side data management, external service integration, APIs, browser-side interface development, and testing.

Code for America Fellow

2011

As one of Code for America's inaugural fellows, I worked with the cities of Philadelphia and Seattle to identify and extend the Change by Us platform for their needs. As part of that process, I along with my fellowship team helped Local Projects, the original authors of Change by Us, release the project as open source.

I also started the Councilmatic project. I was frustrated at the relative difficulty of accessing legislative data in Philadelphia, so started creating a scraper, and later a website for finding and subscribing to relevant artifacts of city council meetings. This project is open source and has since been adopted in several other US cities.

For a complete work history, check out my Linked In profile.

Recent Projects

Cyborg City

2016

(source)

Cyborg City was a series of dinner discussions, evolving presentations, and set of resources built around the practice of looking back over the significant developments in the relationship between people and their environments as mediated by technology, from the perspective of someone 40 years in the future.

Specifically, I hosted a series of dinners where each was relatively focused around a topic, and for an hour or two we discussed significant events and developments related to that topic over the last 40 years, as if we were in the year 2056.

The work spawned talks at DjangoCon US 2016, BarCamp Philly 2016, ORD Camp 2017, and Ignite Philly 19 (March, 2017)

Planbox

OpenPlans, Since 2013

(source)

Planbox is a platform for getting the word out about your planning projects. Its beautiful and easy to use interface will help you get your project online in no time.

Shareabouts

OpenPlans, Since 2012

(source, api source, js library source)

Shareabouts is an online mapping tool to gather crowdsourced public input in a social and engaging process. Using Shareabouts, people can drop a pin on a map to provide ideas, suggestions, and comments for planning and design issues. And as a mobile-friendly application, Shareabouts makes it easy to add input on the go.

Councilmatic

Code for America, Since 2011

(core source, philly source)

A subscription service for city council legislative information, started in Philadelphia.

Conferences and Events

Ignite Philly 19

Speaker 2017

International Conference on Appropriate Technology

Speaker 2010

Organizer 2012, 2014, 2016

Planning Camp

Organizer 2013, 2014

Organizations

Coded by Kids

Board Member Since 2014

The Hacktory

Board Member Since 2014

International Network on Appropriate Technology

Organizer Since 2012

Steering Committee Member Since 2014

Code for Philly

Member Since 2012