Mayor Robert Reichert welcomed three technology experts to Macon Monday morning, and gave them a tour around downtown.
"They will be a tremendous help in helping to inform and engage our citizens here in Macon," said Reichert.
The three, Nick Doiron, Zach Williams, and Jessica Lord, are fellows with the national Code For America program, which recruits web developers and computer program designers to build tools that help city governments work more efficiently and makes them more accessible to residents.
Macon was selected from more than 20 applicants to receive the fellows.
Williams is a web developer from Texas who has helped build open source tools for the EPA and the city of Boston. Doiron has developed tools for non-profits like One Laptop per Child. Lord, who is from Warner Robins, is an urban designer who said she picked Macon over cities like Detroit, Chicago, and Honolulu to be closer to home.
"I chose Macon because I'm from small-town New Hampshire," said Doiron, "and even though Macon is a much bigger city than where I'm from, it's a model that can be repeated in hundreds of other cities across the country compared to larger cities like New York."
The fellows will spend the next five weeks getting to know the city and meeting with department heads before coming up with concepts for phone and computer applications tailored to Macon's needs.
The city's network administrator, Kerry Hatcher said he's tossed some ideas around with the fellows, including streamlining the business licensing process and making council meetings more accessible with a user-friendly tool for residents.
Code for America's fellowship program started last year in Philadelphia, Boston, and Seattle. In Boston, fellows created an app to help parents pick schools for their children to attend, and in Philadelphia, the Adopt-a-Hydrant program lets residents shovel fire hydrants covered in snow so they are visible in case of an emergency.
The fellows will spend a year developing Macon's apps with a $300,000 grant from the Knight Foundation funding their work. They will make a presentation to city council members on February 7, and hold a community forum in mid-February.