Resident Profile: Seth Etter

Volunteer at Open Wichita

“We can act as advocates, but at the end of the day, we have to have buy-in from the City.”

Software engineer Seth Etter, a civic technology enthusiast in Wichita, was delighted when city officials reached out to the new Code for America chapter in town, Open Wichita, as soon as it opened in 2015. City leaders asked how they could support the group, which is devoted to helping to solve community problems and increasing government transparency. Open Wichita had a ready answer: Adopt an open data policy. “We can act as advocates, but at the end of the day, we have to have buy-in from the City,” Etter says.

Open Wichita also recommended that the City invite public comment on the draft policy. Again, the City agreed, and more than 120 comments were received when feedback was crowdsourced using Madison, a policy co-creation platform created by the OpenGov Foundation. The policy was passed in September 2016, a product of the City’s collaboration with What Works Cities partner the Sunlight Foundation, as well as Open Wichita. Etter now works with the OpenGov Foundation, but still devotes a lot of his spare time to the civic tech group.

“It’s rewarding to know that the time and effort I’m putting in day to day are going toward things that can be hugely beneficial to a lot of people,” he says.

The above profile is an excerpt from “What Works Cities: How Local Governments Are Changing Lives,” a new report showcasing accomplishments from cities participating in the What Works Cities initiative over the past two years. Read more profiles and city success stories here.