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In New York City and Silicon Valley, Local Government Innovation Gets Outside Help

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, August 8 2014

Bill signing with Ben Kallos, Bill de Blasio, Brad Lander, Noel Hidalgo and others (via @BenKallos on Twitter)

At this year's Personal Democracy Forum, executive director of digital at the British Cabinet Office Mike Bracken discussed how the push toward civic innovation often does not start from within government. "You have to start on the outside, you have to finish on the inside." Two announcements in in New York City and Silicon Valley this week illustrate an increasing interplay between government's desire to take advantage of technology potential and the capabilities and skills of the external civic technology community (and the new trend of mayoral selfies). Read More

[Op-Ed] Civic Tech and Engagement: How City Halls Can Help Construct Stronger Neighborhoods

BY Susan Crawford | Tuesday, July 29 2014

Boston's new District Hall, a public-private partnership for civic innovation

Last week, the UN reported that more than half of humanity now lives in cities; by 2050 two-thirds of people will, up from just 30% in 1950. Given the grave challenges facing the world's booming urban areas—including global warming, economic dislocation, and crumbling basic infrastructure, among other torments—tomorrow's mayors will need to take bold steps to ensure their constituents live in dignity and safety. But public distrust of dysfunctional, faceless government is profound, resources are limited, gaps between groups are widening, and many are unaware of the role of government in their lives—which makes citizens less likely to support major initiatives. One way to fill the drained reservoir of public trust in municipal government, writes Susan Crawford, is to make city hall more visibly—and continuously—responsive. Digital technology can help: by using data to optimize the use of limited city resources and communicate clearly (with a friendly voice) across a range of platforms, a city can make life noticeably better for its citizens. Read More

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, July 24 2014

Heat Seek BigApps screenshot

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. Read More

First POST: Precrime

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

How the US government determines who to put on its "known or suspected terrorist" list, no-fly list and selectee list; Israelis sharing Gaza casualty news over social media; Twitter's diversity report; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Some Comments

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, July 16 2014

The battle against CISA heats up; the FCC's servers melt down over net neutrality; Elizabeth Warren fans organize for her online; and much, much more. Read More

In Brooklyn, Testing a Texting Platform That Connects Locals, Representatives & Community Leaders

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 14 2014

The neighborhoods in Brooklyn where Heartgov is being tested.

Civic engagement shouldn't be a one way street. In New York City, for example, you can text 311 to report something like a pot hole, but what if you wanted to start a dialogue about charter schools in your neighborhood? The information hotline wasn't built to handle conversations like that, but a new text message-based platform called HeartGov is.

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New York City Payphone WiFi Project Presents Opportunities and Challenges

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 8 2014

Reinvent Payphones Prototype from Control Group & Titan (NYC Digital Tumblr)

While some technologists who have experience in the space share the concerns of some New York City Council members and current payphone franchisees that the city's decision to award the project to only one franchisee or one joint venture could hurt the project, the city and one of the companies preparing a response to the Request for Proposals see the approach as the best way to ensure a standard experience, competition and innovation. From both perspectives, the project illustrates how the vision for more accessible WiFi in New York is tied to the potential for innovation within the established procurement system. Read More

Mayor Walsh Names Blue State Digital Co-Founder Boston CIO

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, June 26 2014

(YouTube)

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced Wednesday that he was appointing Blue State Digital co-founder Jascha Franklin-Hodge as the city's new Chief Innovation Officer. Franklin-Hodge, who has been running BSD's Boston office and has served as an advisor to Code for America, oversaw the technology tools that were central to the Obama campaigns, and prior to that ran the Howard Dean campaign's technology team. Read More

Urban Reviewer Maps New York's Forgotten Master Plans

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, June 19 2014

Cities are capable of forgetting just like people are. Take the city of New York, where for decades vacant lots created through destructive, federally funded Urban Renewal Plans sat unused, despite being earmarked for ... Read More

In New York, Open Government Visions Come Down to Nuts and Bolts

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, June 13 2014

New York City Council Legistar System

Currently, it is not possible for New Yorkers to easily sign up to track updates on City Council meetings and legislative activities. But in fact, there could be an easy fix for the problem that could help transform how members of the public engage with their government. That is what emerged from a #PDF14 workshop that illustrated how the realization of visions for open government in New York often comes down to wonky nuts and bolts issues related to government web platforms, procurement and access to open data. Read More