News from Patrick Flynn

Tech talk

I’m not one for forwarding “interesting” e-mails, links and the like, but a recent note caught my eye.  It calls for some technological knowledge to test new applications that might prove beneficial to our neighbors.  Suffice it to say, this isn’t my bailiwick – I have a smart phone and don’t really like it except that it allows me to keep track of my calendar & e-mail.  So, for those of you with a more tech-savvy bent, here’s something upon which I’d appreciate your feedback:

Hi, I am Brendan Babb, Co-Captain of Code for Anchorage. Code for Anchorage
is a local volunteer group under Code for America that uses technology and open data to make government work better for citizens. Besides currently seeking new ideas or suggestions of “hacks” or “civic apps” I am writing to share some free tools that may be beneficial to your constituents.

A recent Pew Study found that in the US, 90% of adults have a cell phone and
64% own a smartphone.

A few examples of “hacks”:

  • Some children receive free or subsidized meals from school. With school out
    for the summer in Anchorage, families can find children food resources by texting “Food” to 877-877 or accessing this website that just went live this week:

  • SnapFresh is an app that uses USDA data to show stores where people can use their SNAP benefits. You can text an address and zip to 1-415-889-8650 and get back stores close to that address, texted back to you. You can also go to there website: or iPhone app:

  • Code for Anchorage redeployed Balance which allows you to check your SNAP balance by texting your EBT # to 1-907-312-1148. The app will call the EBT Balance number, navigate the phone tree, type in your 16 digit number, listen to the response and text you back your balance to you. The process takes 1-2 minutes. To test the app text 5076950013619295 to the number. The EBT number is from an Americorps volunteer who has agreed to share it for people to test the application but please don’t post it on the web.

You can also go to this splash screen to have it text to your number and the
reply with the EBT number:

And you can see how many people are using Balance with this stats page that
is updated at midnight.

All of these are free to use and work for all of Alaska, please try them and if you feel they would be beneficial to your constituents, let them know about them.  And also if you have any ideas or suggestions for civic apps, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


Brendan Babb

Co-Captain Code for Anchorage

So, for those of you who might be so inclined, please take them for a test drive and provide feedback (probably to Brendan rather than me).  Delivering government services efficiently & effectively is always the goal; if this moves the ball forward so much the better.



This contribution was made on Thursday, 11. June 2015 at 05:37 and was published under the category Neighborhoods. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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