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Content about Technology

September 18, 2013

I’m pleased to share that, in conjunction with SeeClickFix and Kaggle I’ll be sponsoring a predictive data competition using 311 data from four different cities. My hope is that – if we can demonstrate that there are some predictive and socially valuable insights to be gained from this data – we might be able to persuade cities to try to work together to share data insights and help everyone become more efficient, address social inequities and address other city problems 311 data might enable us to explore.

The Kaggle – SeeClickFix – Eaves.ca 311 Data Challenge. Coming Soon.

September 18, 2013

Cleveland’s recent upswing is at least partly a result of collaboration between public, private, and non-profit leaders throughout the area. The Greater University Circle Initiative, for example, has drawn together economic powerhouses, area businesses, and community groups to enhance the Circle and its surrounding neighborhoods. Under the leadership of the Cleveland Foundation and University Circle’s anchor institutions Case Western Reserve University, University Hospitals, and the Cleveland Clinic, the program has worked to embody its “Buy Local, Hire Local, Live Local” mantra. 

NOTE: EngagingCities' Editor, Della Rucker, will be covering ICIC's Inner City Economic Summit on October 22-23.  If you're going to be there, let us know!

September 18, 2013

Q: What is your advice to other social entrepreneurs who want to take the initiative like you did?

AS: First you should truly want to change the lives, of a few, or millions of people.

If you have an idea for a really crazy venture, never keep it in your pocket, start doing something about it, even with the smallest resources. Share your ideas with people, take any opportunity to talk about it, and be open for feedback.

September 17, 2013

We must enhance the quality of government developer portals, and we must work harder (and faster) to develop shared standards for government data and APIs. Most importantly, we have to do more to share tips, tricks and best practices between governments. There are some tools out there to get governments started down the road of building a developer center that is impactful and engaging, but we must do more.

By Mark Headd

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the most recent PennApps hackathon – a biannual college hackathon in Philadelphia that has grown from somewhat humble beginnings a few years ago to one of the largest college hackathons in the world.

Penn Apps logo

September 16, 2013

A new report, “Using Crowdsourcing in Government” by Daren C. Brabham of the University of Southern California and released by the IBM Center for The Business of Government, outlines four different types of crowdsourcing strategies; all of which have been used by state and local governments as well as the Obama administration to some degree of success.

Brabham hopes the report inspires future crowdsourcing ventures in government. He offers some guidance on the four methods of crowdsourcing, which has enjoyed an “enthusiastic embrace by government agencies in the U.S. and abroad,” according to the report.

By Colby Hochmuth

Crowdsourcing has taken participatory government to another level.

Though crowdsourcing is a relatively new practice, recent years have seen government leverage the collective intelligence of “the crowd” to solve problems in the public sphere.

September 16, 2013

The power to govern is often asserted, but it may or may not be based on authentic social consent.  This is an important issue because open networks are changing the nature of legitimate authority and the consent of the governed.  User communities are increasingly asserting their own authority, assigning identities to people, and allocating rights and privileges in the manner of any conventional institution.  Anonymous, Five Star Movement, the Pirate Party, Arab Spring, Lulzsec and Occupy are notable examples of such grassroots, network-enabled movements – and there are plenty of other instances in which distributed networks of users work together toward shared goals in loosely coordinated, bottom-up ways.  Such “smart mobs” – elementary forms of GFNs – are showing that they have the legitimacy and legal authority and the economic and cultural power to act as “institutions” with a modicum of governance power.

By David Bollier

I recently wrote the following essay with John H. Clippinger as part of the ongoing work ofID3, the Institute for Data-Driven Design, which is building a new open source platform for secure digital identity, user-centric control over personal information and data-driven institutions.

September 13, 2013

A new simulation tool designed to help local Bolivian communities reduce deforestation and tackle poverty has been developed by academics and conservationists around the world.

The tool, called SimPachamama (‘Mother Earth simulation’ in local language), is based on extensive scientific research of a real-life Amazonian community and simulates the actions and behaviour of villagers near the agricultural frontier in Bolivia.

A new simulation tool designed to help local Bolivian communities reduce deforestation and tackle poverty has been developed by academics and conservationists around the world.

The tool, called SimPachamama (‘Mother Earth simulation’ in local language), is based on extensive scientific research of a real-life Amazonian community and simulates the actions and behaviour of villagers near the agricultural frontier in Bolivia.

September 13, 2013

We see extraordinary promise in marrying the emerging civic technology and data movement with leading systems-change initiatives to bring about faster, deeper and broader results. Smart cities technologies, open data, predictive analytics and apps for civic engagement have proliferated in recent years, giving cities new and powerful tools to solve tough problems. Collectively, we are now seeing an opportunity to take these precedents to the next level beyond isolated solutions to discrete problems towards fully integrated components of system change efforts.

By connecting these tools, and the innovators who are producing them, to existing system change efforts, we can move from quick fixes to large-scale, needle-moving results.  

by Ben Hecht and Abhi Nemani

EDITOR: Excellent article.  If you had any questions about how technology can truly and meaningfully move the needle on wicked community issues, read on. 

September 12, 2013

This set of seventeen guidelines is intended to be both an inspiration to those wishing to make their procurement process more transparent, as well as a reflection on what we think is required to allow for distributed oversight, fair competition, and an accessible market in government procurement. With the government workforce shrinking and overall government contracting growing, transparency in procurement is more important than ever.

September 12, 2013

In that simple reframing from technology to empowerment of people, I believe there’s something everyone one of us — whether designer, programmer, entrepreneur, investor, teacher, student, parent, or child — can learn from Red. Especially in a world where we tend to focus on teaching kids to code, debating the flatness of the latest iOS, or discussing the newest and shiniest device still searching for a meaningful application.

EDITOR: Many of you have already seen this, but it was too beautiful and profound to let go by.   I would recommend following WIRED for more on this discussion, if you do not already do so.  

September 12, 2013

[M]aking data more easily available is encouraging application development; and collaboration and trust‐building between government and community. Building strong, healthy communities today requires greater shared responsibility between community members and cities. The emergence of compelling civic technology can offer a platform for this collaboration to more readily occur.

From http://www.reichental.com.  By Jonathan Reichental.
September 12, 2013

The state of Texas is anticipating the passage of House Bill 889, which requires that certain governmental bodies make audio and video recordings of open meetings available on the Internet. With over 1,300 government bodies that meet the criteria, this move will single-handedly make Texas the most public-access friendly state in the nation.

EDITOR: This is a pretty interesting development.  Is anyone seeing a legislative movement of this type elsewhere?  If so, let me know at della@engagingcities.com 

from granicus.com By Maryann Mooney 

September 3, 2013

Conversations on citizen engagement tend to discuss the proper role of government and explore the proper engagement levels of citizens. Yet, before any of those important conversations can take place, agencies need to focus on setting the proper citizen engagement foundation, which will allow organizations to build new and innovative citizen engagement strategies.

From govloop.com.  By Pat Fiorenza

Conversations on citizen engagement tend to discuss the proper role of government and explore the proper engagement levels of citizens. Yet, before any of those important conversations can take place, agencies need to focus on setting the proper citizen engagement foundation, which will allow organizations to build new and innovative citizen engagement strategies.

September 3, 2013

If you want to make big data work, you have to be really specific about what you’re trying to achieve. With big data, mucking about doesn’t just mean wasted effort, it means hefty bills for computer clusters and for storing those terrabytes worth of data. And hefty bills without much to show for it is exactly what I fear might happen as more and more ... organizations get on the “me too” train and experiment with these techniques.

By 

This is a talk I gave at a Hacks/Hackers meetup in Berlin on August 21, 2013.

September 3, 2013

There is no question that social media helps government to govern.  Where there is some cause for concern however, is that when using social media applications government decisions are often influenced by or communicated via external web-based platforms or operated by third parties, such as Facebook or Twitter.

From Delib.net.  By Saskia Tigchelaar

NOTE: the recommendations in this post were specificially directed to UK and Commonwealth goverments.  Requirements in your country or local government may vary.  Always seek appropriate legal advice.  This article isn't legal advice.  

September 3, 2013

[S]takeholders are increasingly wondering: Where are the innovators with more than an unproven idea and business model? What about proof of business scale up beyond winning an award? What happens when the confetti is swept up?

From http://blogs.worldbank.orgBy Nicholas Friederici
September 2, 2013

Time can really drag when you're waiting for a bus or train. Soon you might be able to use that dead time to contribute to a crowdsourced project. The idea grew out of a need to tackle one of the problems with crowdsourcing, says Vassilis Kostakos at the University of Oulu in Finland, which is the potential for bias in the results. People can game the system with fraudulent product reviews, for example, and the fact that users are often relatively poor people from the US and India can skew the findings of a research project.  Kostakos and colleagues wondered if interactive screens offered a viable alternative. "Our studies suggested that people walk up to public displays not knowing exactly what they want to do and usually to kill time. So we tried to find a way to tap into that," he says.

by Paul Marks 

Time can really drag when you're waiting for a bus or train. Soon you might be able to use that dead time to contribute to a crowdsourced project.

August 30, 2013

Picture this: In order to understand how the mafia works, you take on the role of an undercover cop posing as a globe-trotting drug trafficker. You answer questions about sex education to continue a strip tease performed by a model. To better understand the teachings of major philosophers, you engage in a battle of theories with them. Though it may sound like a joke, video games are gaining traction as a new way to deliver information on news and current events.

August 30, 2013

They’ve shown your consultation some love by taking the time to have a say. Show them some in return by saying THANKS!

by Tracey Gobey

I subscribe to a great online marketing blog, Social Triggers, and once again Derek Halpern has delivered BIG in thought provoking content.

His blog focuses on how  psychology helps boost online traffic and sales. While it is marketing and sales focused, I strongly believe that some of the techniques and strategies from this space are vital in getting, and keeping, communities engaged online.

August 30, 2013

Whereas you once had to pay $1,500, now the entire package of data -- cleverly trademarked "BYTES of the BIG APPLE" by the city -- can be accessed for free. This also means that anything made from the data can be shared on the Internet. BKLYNR's interactive map of every is an exciting first look at what can be made with PLUTO data.

This week, Andrew Hill published a click-through map gallery built from PLUTO data, offering an even more intensive preview of the information that can be uncovered coming up. Here are some examples from the gallery:

By Jenny Xie

When the New York City government released a huge collection of geo-spatial data sets a few weeks ago, it really was Christmas in July -- at least for all those who love analyzing the city through data and maps.

August 29, 2013

[C]onverging technologies have changed even basic assumptions about public services -- so much so that it's getting hard to even define the specific purpose of the most advanced of these customer-relationship-management systems. Try this exercise: Is 311 ...

-- A centralized customer service call center?

-- A multimedia hub for residents to communicate in any way they wish -- via a smartphone app, texting, a phone call or a dedicated website -- with their governments?

-- A platform for community engagement that connects residents with others of common interest, "listens" to social media comments and no longer is limited to waiting for a complaining resident to ask government for help?

August 29, 2013

As one of the fastest growing industries in 2013, it isn’t surprising to see many sectors looking at how to leverage this growing mass of gamers for good be it for disaster responseengagement of youth with mental health disabilities, or farming and economic development.

In Cyprus and Kosovo, we want to know whether gaming could help bring together people who have traditionally been on opposing sides of a conflict.

Can gaming incentivize reconciliation, peacebuilding and dialogue?

By  and 

Whether it’s pure entertainment, competition, or rewards, people are spending more and more hours playing games.

August 28, 2013

“They probably don’t appreciate how important this is,” Kan-Dapaah commented ... “These new data that are coming out [from USAID, MCC, and the Treasury Department] is what we need to bring financial accountability to the government. Finding out that $10 million USD was allocated for a bridge over a certain river is a very powerful tool.” 

by Jennifer Lentfer

Three US government agencies released loads of data on their foreign aid programs last month. So what happens when a Parliamentarian or a Minister of a country receiving US development assistance wants to use that information?

August 27, 2013

Youth Map Milwaukee is on a mission to make the dreaded “I’m bored” complaint parents get from their kids obsolete.

The project from the Center for Youth Engagement, 4850 W. Fond Du Lac Ave., aims to map 325 resources in Milwaukee that will direct bored kids to quality activities and agencies near their homes through a website and app, which will be complete by early 2014.

“It should be just as easy for a young person to find something that is positive to do as it is to find some things that are negative,” said Reggie Moore, the project’s leader and Center for Youth Engagement’s founder and senior strategist.

The mapping initiative, launched July 31, comes at a time when Milwaukee has seen a string of shootings.

By Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service  

Youth Map Milwaukee is on a mission to make the dreaded “I’m bored” complaint parents get from their kids obsolete.