Even two decades ago it was apparent that the region needed a shared “data commons” and open access to community data that didn’t require the data user to have a data-sharing relationship with each organization holding data. In the late 1990s two community partnership organizations, the San Antonio Community Network (SATNET) and the San Antonio Community Information System (SACIS), were working separately towards a common goal: developing a system where the residents of San Antonio and its surrounding counties could readily access information related to healthcare, education, and social services. Following planning meetings conducted with community leaders and over thirty public, private, and non-profit organizations, it became clear that merging SATNET and SACIS would be the best strategy for making the proposed information system a reality.
In March 2000 the Alamo Area Community Information System (AACIS) was born. The vision of AACIS was “to provide our citizens with enhanced access to information, services and tools that will aide them in all levels of community life and facilitate the development of skills necessary to improve upon the quality of life.”
Two decades later, several of AACIS’ founding members still support that vision. Among these are the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the City of San Antonio, the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, the Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Our Lady of the Lake University, the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. The United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County (UWSA) funded AACIS at its founding and every year since. UWSA has also donated its service as fiscal agent from the beginning through the present.
Through out the 2000’s, AACIS worked to expand public access to data and to bridge the digital divide through partnerships with the City of San Antonio, Microsoft and SBC, and others. Late in 2008, AACIS expanded the collaboration to include the UT School of Public Health in San Antonio in order to update and expand data holdings and create a community portal with which the community could access data and other resources. All staffing continues to be via contract with and housed at the San Antonio campus.
In 2009, AACIS added a visionary project known as NOWCastSA, a community news and public service journalism organization initially funded John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge. In January of 2010, the need to revise the mission and vision of AACIS became clear, and brainstorming and visioning meetings resulted in the rebranding of AACIS as Community Information Now, or CI:Now (“see now”). NOWCastSA launched as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit in 2014.
In October 2010 CI:Now was accepted as a local partner in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP).