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Courting Suburban Civic Hackers in Illinois

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, March 11 2013

Rockford Meet-Up (Facebook/Daniel X. O'Neil)

Writing software to make cities and towns easier to live in seems like it's been a primarily urban hobby until now, with big cities like New York, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia hogging all the headlines. Hoping to change that, Illinois state officials and nonprofits launched the Illinois Open Technology Challenge, promising $75,000 in prize money distributed to software developers that use state or city data in applications designed for users outside of Chicago rather than inside of it. Contest organizers have moved the challenge's deadline back two weeks, to March 29. Read More

New Yorkers Can Track Snowplows' Movements as "Nemo" Flies Overhead

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, February 8 2013

There is some disagreement on what to call the storm — some Twitter users favor #snowpacabra — but whether it's named after Captain Nemo or a mythical blood-sucking beast, New Yorkers will be able to track how city officials are doing cleaning up in its wake using an app from the city. Read More

Once Relics of a City's Past, Now in Plans for a Digital Future

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, February 5 2013

In the 1900s, these tunnels hauled freight under downtown Chicago. Will they carry fiber-optic cable next? Photo: Wikimedia

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus: As leading city governments across the country consider how to approach the Internet age, they're taking the concept of "adaptive reuse" to a new frontier by thinking of new ways to turn old standbys like payphones or disused rail tunnels into new pieces of digital infrastructure. Read More

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

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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