You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

First POST: Disruptors

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, May 20 2014

How the NSA collects every phone call made in the Bahamas; why the FCC's proposed rulemaking on net neutrality is problematic; how Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to upgrade NYC's broadband; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

How Civic Hackathons Everywhere Can Learn from Latin America

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, March 12 2014

Hackers at Desarrollando America Latina (DAL) (credit: Buenos Aires Data/flickr)

Look at what the public or social sector in any major city is doing to leverage new technologies and you’re likely to find an abundance of unfinished and unused civic applications. Such graveyards of software applications are an unfortunate byproduct of of the app contests and hackathons that forward-thinking cities like to promote. Latin America has as many as any other part of the world, but it also has the Desarrollando America Latina (DAL) network. DAL is experimenting with new models for generating technology solutions to social problems. Efforts in other parts of the world - from New York to Nairobi - should study their lessons learned.

Read More

First POST: Greased

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 11 2013

Politifact branching out with Punditfact; why you shouldn't "drunk dial" random Members of Congress; why "greasing" IT contracts led to the HealthCare.gov mess; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

7 Tactics for Your Civic App That You Can Learn From Twitter and Airbnb

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, October 2 2013

If you are looking to improve your civic app, don't be afraid to look at non-civic models like Twitter (petesimon/flickr)

It may sound obvious, but without users, it’s not possible for software to do much of anything - let alone facilitate social change. As we explored in our last post, a few organizations and individuals have started hosting ongoing conversations among technologists and people who can use data and applications to address civic issues. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Engaging the right people at the right time requires a variety of different tactics. Many of these tactics can be borrowed from user acquisition teams at non-civic applications like Yelp, Airbnb, or Dropbox. Read More

WeGov

The Hunt for Open Data in China

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, September 11 2013

No data in this stack of hay. (Perry McKenna/flickr)

Like water and oil, ‘open data’ and ‘China’ that take a bit of engineering if you want them to mix. Stories like those of human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong, arrested for rallying citizens to demand public disclosure of their officials’ wealth, are more the norm. But rather than ask for information, a group of young techies are going out and finding it, despite the challenges in its use and the risks of digging too deep. Read More

WeGov

Citizens Create Open Data Tools to Drive Transparency in Hong Kong

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, August 8 2013

The Legislative Council Building in Hong Kong (source: Martin Schiele/flickr)

Edward Snowden might have thought otherwise, but Hong Kong residents find their city-state pretty opaque when it comes to access to information about their own government's activities. A group of open data activists are trying to change that, kicking off several initiatives and creating new tools. Read More

NYC BigApps Refines the Civic Hackathon

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, April 30 2013

Is this the fuel that will power civic innovation? Photo: Sethw

Just opening up a city’s data doesn’t make it decipherable. And just because an app wins a prize at a civic hackathon doesn’t guarantee it’s going to find an audience, or become useful for the public. In response to the customary criticisms of civic hackathons and app contests, those running NYC BigApps, an app contest centered on utilizing civic data now in its fourth(!) year have reconfigured their contest this time around to guide entrant projects towards maximum social impact. Read More

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

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

WeGov

To App Contest or Not App Contest

BY David Eaves | Thursday, November 15 2012

Ever since the City of Washington DC did Apps for Democracy there have been a running series of skirmishes — that from time to time bubble up into a larger debate — about whether or not app contests, or even hackathons in general, are worthwhile endeavor. I've never been a huge fan of app competitions, but I do think there exist a set of specific conditions under which they can make sense. Ultimately, everything rests on your goal. What do you want to achieve? Read More