As a North Jersey native, I admit that I had never heard this term before. So naturally one of my first questions as the City of Philadelphia’s Geographic Information Officer & Chief Data Officer was, “What is a jawn?”

My colleagues quickly educated me that this term is Philly-speak for any kind of event or thing.  In this case, we were going to host an event named “GeoJawn,” during which we would showcase geographic information system (GIS) applications. The CityGeo team collaborated with our GIS partners and arranged the open house as part of Philly Tech Week.

What a response! For four hours, 300 people—interested Philadelphia residents, community activists, and City employees—experienced the power of GIS linked with digital data.  

We featured problem-solving examples and citizen services from many City offices, including Licenses and Inspections, Streets, the District Attorney, City Council, Planning and Development, Water, Police, Philadelphia Airport, and Parks and Recreation.

As I walked around the room, I felt a wave of energy as the crowd asked questions, explored interactive GIS applications, and just enjoyed learning from the members of the CityGeo team. Our team was in our element—sharing the technology we love.

My first GeoJawn open house was a success. And I now know what jawn means!

– Hank Garie, Innovation & Technology GIO/CDO