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With Online Public Engagement, White House Follows West Wing Playbook

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, January 30 2014

Science and Technology Adviser John Holdren (Twitter/OSTP)

On The West Wing, on the day known as Big Block of Cheese Day, White House staffers met with advocates for more White House attention on UFOs, supporters of a wolves-only highway and map makers for social equality. As Chief of Staff Leo McGarry, played by John Spencer, explained in the episodes, the inspiration for the tradition that he brought to the Bartlet White House came from President Andrew Jackson, who received a 1,400 pound block of cheese as a gift from a New York dairy farmer, left it in the White House entrance hall two age for two years, and then invited the public to come and eat it. Read More

For Presidential Election Commission, Long Lines at Polls Are a Technology and Data Problem

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 29 2014

Election Resource Calculator

In his State of the Union speech last night, President Obama praised the work of his bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration, emphasizing that it "has offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote." On Election Night 2012, noting that many had "waited in line for a very long time," he emphasized "we have to fix that." With its report published last week, the commission outlines how the widespread ground-level adoption of new innovative election technology is directly tied to shorter lines at the polls. Read More

NYC Tech Group Seizes on de Blasio Agenda with Call for Traffic Accident Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 22 2014

(Transportation Alternatives)

For the New York City technology community, it is time for better traffic data to help prevent some of the unintended dangerous traffic problems in New York City. BetaNYC, New York City's Code for America brigade, is embracing the prospect of change under the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio by seizing on his agenda priority to prevent pedestrian fatalities to renew its call for the city and the NYPD to release traffic data in a more usable format. Read More

Obama Confronts German NSA Skepticism in TV Interview But Doubts Remain

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, January 21 2014

Obama tells Claus Kleber, no point in having intelligence if you're restricted to reading media reports (credit: Screenshot/ZDF)

President Obama directly confronted some of the significant skepticism toward U.S. surveillance among the German public in an exclusive interview with German public broadcaster ZDF following his speech Friday. Beyond emphasizing the importance of restoring a trust in German-U.S. relations and dispelling worries about surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the interview's back-and-forth also prompted Obama to spell out the necessary balance he sees between U.S. responsibilities as a country with the most advanced capabilities and inevitable innovation in the area of digital surveillance. German reaction to the interview and the speech was muted, with many German news commentators expressing concern that Obama's vision is in effect a new world order upending established concepts of privacy, rule of law and limited surveillance. Read More

Voting Information Project Automation Effort Draws on State Innovation

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, January 17 2014

The Voting Information Project announced this week it would be providing general election data for all fifty states and Washington D.C and primary election data in selected states this year, as it works on automating the process in the future. Read More

WeGov

Need a Journalist? In Germany, There's an App for That

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, January 14 2014

Call a Journalist app (Cross & Lecker/Facebook)

Over the past weeks, the city of Hamburg in Germany was caught up in ongoing occasionally violent standoffs and demonstrations between left-wing protestors and the police over development plans in several poorer neighborhoods that have historically been centers for the city's counterculture, as the Atlantic Cities recently outlined. Read More

Pew Survey Highlights Online Voter Registration Benefits and Lessons

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, January 9 2014

A new brief by the Pew Charitable Trusts based on a survey of thirteen states that have implemented online voter registration finds that the practice has reduced costs, improved the accuracy of voter rolls and the registration experience. Read More

Report finds Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Compliant with Privacy and Free Speech Guidelines

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 8 2014

A first-time assessment by the Global Network Initiative has found that Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are compliant with free expression and privacy principles established by the GNI. Read More

Open Source Government Code Not Just for Muggles

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, January 6 2014

It's not just "Muggles" who can benefit from open-source government code. Over the holiday break, the Ministry of Magic from the Harry Potter series got its own website based on the open-source template of GOV.UK. Read More

With Business Atlas, NYC Analytics Office Looks to 2014

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, January 2 2014

A recently released tool from the City of New York seeks to level the playing field for small businesses looking to learn more about economic conditions of neighborhoods and possible business locations. The NYC Business Atlas is a project from the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA), and the Departments of Small Business Services. Read More

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

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