Students To Build City Of Miami Budget Web App

Miami Dade College was awarded a year-long $88,507 grant from New America to create the Miami Budget App. 

The Miami Budget App, a website app, will allow the community to analyze the financial expenditures of the City of Miami’s yearly budget in English and Spanish. 

“I think it’s going to be a great way for budget information to come to the people, because right now it’s a PDF form that nobody downloads and nobody interacts with,” said David Freer, a programming professor at Kendall Campus, who is leading the project. “This will be a good way to have more direct democracy where the people can see what the money is being spent on.”

A team of student programmers and designers will research, design and develop the website in collaboration with Microsoft, Code for Miami and the City of Miami.

Miami Dade College was one of 27 universities across the United States to receive the grant as part of the Public Interest Technology University’s Network Challenge. PIT-UN is a partnership of 21 colleges and universities aimed at supporting public interest technology projects.  

The project will undergo a year-long development process until the website’s expected launch next summer. 

The School of Engineering and Technology will recruit three to four student programmers and one designer with experience in their fields. They will receive a $2,500 stipend per semester. The students will use modern web development techniques to collaborate and build the platform through GitHub. 

“It’s something that we’re going to guide the students in terms of what technology we’d like to see used, what software stack we’d like to see used,” Freer said. “In the end, the actual programming will be done by the students.” 

Students will then begin working with Microsoft and Code for Miami to plan out design metrics. The City of Miami will provide students with information on the budget and promote the website to their citizens. 

“If we build the app, and then they don’t promote it, and then the people in Miami don’t use it, then it’s pointless,” Freer said. 

They will then begin the design phase for six months, where the website’s interface will come to life. 

“This is a great opportunity to engage local computer science students in creating something that our residents will truly benefit from,” said Michael Sarasti, chief innovation officer of the City of Miami. “In addition to giving them hands-on experience in app research and development, we’re also highlighting future career opportunities for MDC students in the space where government and tech converge.”

Students interested in joining the project can contact David Freer at (305) 237-2555 or dfreer@mdc.edu.

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