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Oakland Neighbors Crowdfunding Private Security

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, October 4 2013

College Ave in Rockridge, Oakland; (c) David Corby 2006

Oakland California’s Rockridge neighborhood has generally been better known for its fresh pasta and pricey Craftsman homes than for brazen daylight robberies. But that changed last month when three men held up a line of drivers waiting at the Rockridge BART station to pick up passengers in order to use the carpool lane on their morning commute. What’s a violated yet technologically savvy community to do? In Rockridge, the answer has been to crowdfund private security services, with the aim of compensating for an understaffed police department in the city with the highest robbery rate in America. Read More

Transparency Fight Muddies Tulsa's Mayoral Race

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, September 12 2013

Kathy Taylor Makes an Issue of Openness in Tulsa

Transparency and open data have been buzzwords for civic hackers and a select group of city hall employees nationwide over the last few years. But can they be fighting words as well? Kathy Taylor, a candidate for mayor ... Read More

Citizinvestor Reframes its Civic Crowdfunding Strategy

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, September 5 2013

Citizinvestor's reframed attempt to gather public ideas

Civic engagement isn’t just about soliciting responses from citizens, it’s about framing them: the better the frame, the greater the response. It can be a subtle lesson, but it is one that recently led civic crowdfunding platform Citizinvestor to alter the way in which it solicits potential projects from the public. Apparently, people are more apt to say they like an idea than to sign their names to a petition. Read More

Is Sharing Political? Peers.org Thinks So

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, August 28 2013

Some vegetable sharers Peers will mold into a coalition. Credit: Peers.org

According to some, the sharing economy is more than technological advancements that allow the crowdfunding of a college roommate’s short film or a single dad to make extra cash driving revelers on the cab poor streets of San Francisco. It’s a movement. But is a common economic practice grounds for a political coalition? Peers, a new organization looking to advocate for individuals who benefit from the sharing economy, is betting yes. Read More

Nick Merrill Takes Privacy Fight from National Security Letters to Networks

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, August 16 2013

Nick Merrill at PopTech. By Thatcher Cook for PopTech.

Near the height of post 9-11 national paranoia in 2004, Nick Merrill received a National Security Letter from the FBI demanding client information from his company Calyx Internet Access. Merrill defied the information request and took the FBI and Justice Department to court. He lived under a gag order for six years, but eventually won in court, twice, forcing changes to the Patriot Act. Since he was freed to speak about his case in 2010 (he still isn’t allowed to discuss its specifics) he has taken his story on the road, speaking to hackers, civil libertarians, students, tech conference attendees, and anyone else who will listen. Read More

New Study Looks Under Hood of Boston's New Urban Mechanics

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, August 9 2013

Boston’s office of New Urban Mechanics is a model for other cities looking to provide more and better service with less cash. By taking advantage of mobile technologies, bridging long siloed departments, and engaging civic minded tech entrepreneurs and academics, the department, under the direction of Mayor Thomas Menino has had its hand in an array of projects in the past years, from figuring out how to repurpose 19th century fire boxes for the digital age, to testing online games to inform city planning. A list of projects doesn’t really get at what actually makes New Urban Mechanics tick but a new case study from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society just might. Read More

Can an NSA-Proof Chat Be as Easy As Using Facebook?

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, August 2 2013

Photo: zzpza / Flickr

As it turns out, the government really can watch quite a lot of what you do online — maybe even to a greater degree than lawmakers meant to allow. That's sparking a sudden surge of interest in tools to help people preserve their privacy. There's just one problem: More often than not, those tools are awfully hard to use. Read More

Code for America Announces 2013 Accelerator Class

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, July 25 2013

Code for America on Wednesday announced latest cohort for its accelerator program, a four-month boot camp for startups working around the nexus of technology and government. Read More

San Jose State Gives Pilot With MOOC Provider a Failing Grade

BY Sam Roudman | Monday, July 22 2013

A pilot collaboration between San Jose State University and the online course provider Udacity to provide certain basic courses to students over the Internet performed so poorly that SJSU is putting a halt to the program at least until next spring. Read More

Houston to Hire an "Enterprise Data Officer" to Fight Digital Sprawl

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, July 18 2013

The city of Houston is hiring a new top staffer to fight sprawl — in its databases, not its city streets. Houston has 2.2 million citizens spread out over 627 square miles, but like many municipalities, Houston’s 22 city departments also have their data spread across a variety of formats. A new enterprise data officer would be in charge of consolidating how that data is stored and shared, which officials hope will increase productivity and revenue while opening more information for public consumption. Read More