In the 1960’s, the phrase “power to the people” became a popular slogan for citizens who wanted their voices to be heard by the government. It took a few decades, but the open data initiatives being undertaken in communities across the United States have finally made that slogan into a reality.
Solutions like NuCivic Data help agencies meet open data mandates and goals, while allowing citizens to gain insight and provide input into those agencies. They are the tools that will help create a new form of government – one that is extremely open, highly collaborative, and powered by the people.
But what what matters more to New York City open data advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality and values: creating a transparent process of releasing the data, making the data machine-readable and prioritizing release of data sets in high demand. As preparations are underway for City Council hearings on the law, New York City's open data progress and challenges are both a model for and reflective of open data efforts across the country.
NRC survey data identifies types of residents who are the most active or, in some cases, the least vocal. Individuals living in a community for more than 10 years, for example, are about three times more likely to attend public meetings and contact elected officials than new residents. Among racial groups, Asians tend to have the lowest participation rates. Low-income residents also aren’t as active as those earning six-figure incomes.
1) Don’t ignore your users; bring someone in to represent them
Consultation should be considered from a user’s point of view – which sounds obvious right? But this is all too often forgotten amidst the document creation, planning and bureaucracy. To help solve this, Defra invited Ruth Chambers, Vice Chair of Defra’s civil society advisory board, along to the consultation session. Ruth highlighted the importance of setting out expectations early on and sustaining engagement. She also advised that departments should be honest with stakeholders about changes or challenges to help ensure they are engaged in both the topic at hand and the process.
The challenges have just entered their final stage. Until June 12, you can look at the 14 shortlisted concepts that are now competing for a cash prize from UNDP. You can also leave them comments, offer resources and endorse them. Here’s a quick run-through of the shortlisted concepts: