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First POST: Finessing

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, March 12 2015

We're supposed to believe Hillary Clinton never emailed classified material when gov't classifies practically everything; transparency theater; the new definition of deleting is "not saving"; and much, much more. Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: In Search of a Common Language

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, September 5 2014

Marten van Valkenborsch, Construction of the Tower of Babel (c. 1600)

We need much clearer language to describe civic tech. Too often, people working in this field struggle to put into words what it is they are striving for. It's not enough to assume that, like the Supreme Court and obscenity, we know good civic tech when we see it. And if we can't say why something is good (or even great), how can we know what to design for? Indeed, how do we even know if we're after the same design goals? Read More

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

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

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

With Rules Reform, New York City Council Aims for Open API

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 15 2014

The New York City Council on Wednesday unanimously passed a resolution amending its rules to require the Council Speaker to make available legislative tracking information data and discretionary funding data to the public in a machine-readable format, and City Council members and open government advocates see the changes as a basis for making legislative information available through an open API. Read More

NYPD Among First To Release Detailed Accessible Local Collision Data (Updated)

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, May 8 2014

NYC Collisions hotpots visualization by Andrew Hill (screenshot)

The New York Police Department has published long-sought motor vehicle collision data in a machine-readable format in connection with the launch of BigApps 2014, the city's annual application development competition that will place a focus on Mayor Bill de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities, setting an example for other cities, according to open data advocates. Read More

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, April 24 2014

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. Read More

New York's Citi Bike Program Releases Historical Trip Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, April 1 2014

(NYU Rudin/ linepointpath.com/Spatial Information Design Lab)

New York City's Citi Bike program released eight months of trip history data on Monday, fulfilling a core demand of the city's civic hacker community since the start of the program last summer, even amidst reports of financial troubles. Read More

Enthusiasm and Challenges for Making NYC Local Government More Tech-Friendly

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, February 28 2014

Gale Brewer, Noel Hidalgo and Ben Kallos at Code Across NYC (Twitter via @ppolitics)

Last weekend, around one hundred members of New York City's civic hacker community came together to help develop tools that would be useful for City Council and local Community Board members as part of Code Across NYC, organized by Code for America brigade betaNYC. As part of the event, open government advocates Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Ben Kallos discussed their transparency advocacy. With input from five Community Board members and New York City officials, the weekend program resulted in the creation of 20 projects, of which 12 were submitted for five awards. But even with all the enthusiasm, many challenges remain to making technology more accessible to local government, as participants and subsequent City Council hearings this week indicated. Read More