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Book Review: What Code for America Has, and Hasn't, Learned About Getting "Beyond Transparency"

BY Susannah Vila | Monday, November 18 2013

Code for America recently published a book of case studies written by members of its network. While it’s called Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation, its biggest value lies not in futurism but in the book's descriptions of the lessons learned by people working on open data releases in U.S. cities over the course of the past few years. Many of these examples could help local-level reformers now - both in the U.S. and overseas. And they also show that there's still a lot of hard work to be done moving from making civic data accessible to users, to actually getting people to use it. Read More

WeGov

Australia Cleans Up Data.Gov.Au, Loses More Than Half of Its 1,200 Datasets

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 14 2013

Every dataset deserves a good clean up (Flickr/Chiot's Run)

Since Australia switched their open data website to an open source platform in July, the number of datasets has dropped from 1200 to 500. Did they get lost in the move? No, it just turns out that many of them were pure junk, links to webpages that no longer existed or led to irrelevant pages.

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WeGov

Raspberry Pi Tackles the Great Firewall and Peruvian Amazon

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, November 13 2013

The low-cost computer has inspired a number of projects for social good (GijsbertPeijs/flickr)

When Eben Upton created the Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer the size of a credit card, he had no inkling its reach would extend beyond England’s borders and do more than inspire UK’s youth to program. A little went a long way. Thousands of miles, in fact, to places as far from the UK as China, India and as remote as the Peruvian Amazon. The Raspberry Pi, first conceived by Upton in 2006 and released in February of last year, is produced by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation. Since then, it has sold 1.2 million units worldwide and was named the top 100 most inspiring social tech innovations by the Nominet Trust, which has noted its use in developing countries as a low-budget tool or computer. Read More

WeGov

France Outlines Open Data Plans

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 12 2013

On Friday the French government released their Action Plan for France to enact the guidelines and practices outlined in the G8 Open Data Charter, adopted in June of this year at the Lough Erne Summit by the President of the French Republic and the other G8 Member States.

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WeGov

Open Thread: The Second Open Government Partnership Summit

BY Susannah Vila and Christopher Wilson | Tuesday, November 5 2013

Cabinet Office/flickr

The goal of the Open Government Partnership is to get governments to make (and carry out) concrete commitments that promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

How’s that going? At the end of the month about 1,200 OGP participants came together for the initiative's third annual summit. Over the course of the event we shared analyses and documentation of the issues that made it onto the agenda, the lessons learned and the next steps. Click through for the latest update.

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WeGov

Privacy and Surveillance are the Elephant in the Room at OGP Summit [UPDATED]

BY Katrin Verclas | Friday, November 1 2013

Intel Free Press/flickr

Privacy, surveillance and the closing of political space for openness and transparency activists in many countries was the hot issue at the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Summit in London that was left largely unaddressed by the OGP member countries present. Read More

WeGov

Baby Names and Hunting Rules...Is Canada's Latest Open Government Push Doing Enough?

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Thursday, October 31 2013

A screenshot of Ontario's new open data website

Canada’s latest push for open data is happening in Ontario with a new Open Government initiative launched this week. It is part of the Ontario government’s efforts to increase public access to its data. Billed as, “a commitment to the people of Ontario to engage, collaborate and innovate,” the site pledges to unlock “the power of data in a digital age and partners with people to spark a new generation of ideas through easier access to information, more voices at the decision-making table and new economic opportunities powered by public information.” But does it go far enough? Read More

WeGov

New Report Highlights Successes and Challenges of Worldwide Open Data Policies

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, October 31 2013

David Cameron addressing the OGP summit (10 Downing Street/Facebook)

A new study of 77 countries from the World Wide Web Foundation and Open Data Institute indicates that while 55 percent of countries have open data initiatives in place, less than 10 percent of key government datasets around the world are in fact easily accessible to the public. Read More

WeGov

Too Much "Open Government," Not Enough Openness?

BY Panthea Lee | Thursday, October 31 2013

Are Open Government initiatives too much show and no substance? (Laurence and Annie/flickr)

But despite all the ambition and innovation of Open Government initiatives, the utility of this movement is yet unproven. Many initiatives seek transparent, participatory, and accountable governance, but is the practice of open government living up to the promise behind these three pillars? Read More

WeGov

The World Bank's Lo-Tech Open Data Experiment

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 30 2013

Although the open data movement is associated with the Internet and tech-savvy types, an estimated 65 percent of the world's population remains entirely offline. As part of their ongoing push to open up development data, the World Bank has tested initiatives in remote communities to see how open data could be used offline. They wanted to put the assumption that open data is too difficult to understand (especially without the advantage of computer literacy) to the test.

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

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. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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