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How Open Source Civic Technology Helped Flu Vaccinations Go Viral

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, January 15 2013

Photo: rocknroll_guitar / Flickr

In the middle of what might be the worst flu season in a decade, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declared a public health emergency — and civic hackers found a way to help the cause. With help from Code for America volunteers, the Boston Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics was able to repurpose a Chicago app that maps free vaccination locations in little more than a day, just in time for a weekend vaccination campaign at 24 locations. The app's journey from Chicago to Boston is a model of intra-civic partnership. Read More

WeGov

With Text Messages, Saving Lives Through Timely Words

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 2 2012

Sometimes all it takes to save lives is the right words at the right time. That's what researchers are finding as they explore two projects to use text messages in an effort to influence people's behavior. Early intervention specialist Patrick Meier describes how this knowledge was used in conflict resolution — specifically in a project called CeaseFire Chicago, which reduced dramatically the number of shootings in the city's marginalized neighborhoods. Now a Kenyan NGO is employing the same methodology to reduce conflict in the slums of Nairobi. And this is all based on earlier work that a World Health Organization found used text messaging to improve treatment results for patients with HIV in Kenya. Read More

Civic Technologists Get Plaudits in GovTech's "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" Awards

BY Raphael Majma | Thursday, March 1 2012

The magazine Government Technology has awarded 25 individuals and groups as a part of their Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers in Public Sector Innovation program. The magazine releases an annual issue that recognizes “people who cut through the public sector's infamous barriers to innovation - tight budgets, organizational inertia, politics as usual, etc. - to reshape government operations for the better.” This year’s list includes a few folks that may be familiar to techPresident readers, including Jennifer Pahlka, the founder and executive director of Code for America, Bryan Sivak, Maryland's chief innovation officer, and Chicago’s social media director, Kevin Hauswirth, John Tolva, its chief technology officer, and Brett Goldstein, its chief data officer. Read More

San Francisco's Plan: Open Government, Open Data, Open Doors to New Business and Better Services

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, January 24 2012

In San Francisco, city officials have pulled together a core nexus of driven leaders, civic hackers, and big-name investors in the hopes that greater access to the city's inner workings can spur more web 2.0-style startups that solve problems government has, or maybe that citizens have because of government. Is this enough to make local government work better? Read More

Watching Where the Plows Go

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, January 12 2012

The snow is moving in Chicago, and so is the City of Chicago's "Plow Tracker", the first part of its online snow-fighting portal to go live. Read More

In Chicago, The Snow Day as Civic Experiment

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, January 4 2012

Chicago in Feb. 2011. Photo: Brendan Riley / Flickr

The City of Chicago on Tuesday unveiled Chicago Shovels, a suite of web applications designed to keep Chicagoans in the know when the snow banks start to pile up. Read More

Open Data: Bringing People Together Since ... 1986?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, September 21 2011

A nexus of developers, policy wonks and government types brought together when government releases its own internal data is starting to form in Chicago, Daniel X. O'Neil writes the day that Cook County, Ill. announces an ... Read More

New Digital Tools for Travelers Mean New Questions About Public Space

BY Nick Judd | Monday, September 19 2011

Rights of Way: How much does your commute say about you, and who gets to know? Photo of a 7 Train in Queens, N.Y. by Rafael Castellon / Flickr What we're seeing is the rise of something Chicago Chief Technology Officer ... Read More

City of Chicago Releases City Contracts Going Back to 1993

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, August 4 2011

The city of Chicago has released records of nearly 90,000 city contracts going back to 1993 in machine-readable, downloadable format, the Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday. Since coming into office, Chicago Mayor Rahm ... Read More

A Lobbyist Database for Chicago

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, July 6 2011

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to introduce an ordinance today that would create a wide-reaching lobbyist disclosure database, according to a press release. The ordinance makes good on a promise Emanuel made in the ... Read More

News Briefs

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Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

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In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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