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Two Civic Hackers On Why Open Government Isn't That Hard

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, February 13 2013

Civic hacking — using technology to improve or subvert anything that's wrong, broken, or just not good enough about the way politics and government work — is hard. It can be frustrating. But it's often also fun, two civic hackers told me today, and just because it's hard doesn't mean it's not worth doing. Read More

In Germany, Pursuit of Plagiarism Now Extends to Lawmakers Lifting Words from Lobbyists

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, February 12 2013

German freelance journalist, TV moderator and blogger Richard Gutjahr worked together with Open Data City, a team of journalistic open data designers, to create LobbyPlag, a platform that examines similarities between proposals by lobbyists and amendments to the General Data Protection Regulation proposed by EU Committee members. Read More

WeGov

CivicOpen: New Name, Old Idea

BY David Eaves | Monday, February 11 2013

Here are a few things open government advocates should remember if they don't want their open-source efforts to repeat past failures. Read More

Open Docket, an Open Government Tool for Small Towns and Cities

BY Sam Roudman | Monday, February 4 2013

In small towns, getting civic information can be a mess. Figuring out the history or status of a request for a new stop sign can require a slog through weeks or months of PDF files of meeting agendas, minutes, and reports. Is the information public? Yes. Is it accessible? No. Sean Roche lives in Newton, Mass., population 85,000, and he's hoping to solve that with Open Docket, an open-source project he's launched to provide a better way to track the lawmaking goings-on of small cities and towns.

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WeGov

Israeli Transparency NGO Shows Voters How to Cast Informed Ballots

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, January 3 2013

Screengrab from Open Knesset website

As Israelis prepare to cast their ballots in national elections on January 22, the country's only transparency NGO has launched a campaign to encourage voters to educate themselves by consulting their Open Knesset website, where they can find previously unavailable information about how their legislators are doing their jobs and whether they are representing their constituents as they would wish to be represented. Read More

WeGov

Dashboard Government: The Politics of Measurement

BY David Eaves | Wednesday, November 28 2012

The other week I was informed that the city of Edmonton, Alberta, published an online dashboard of various metrics that it hopes will both educate residents about the city's services. As more and more of what governments do — from running buses to fixing potholes to processing paper — is managed by computers, there is an ever-increasing capacity to measure, and make public, the results of any given activity. The opportunity to create more accountable systems and governments is real. If we are going to end up with government dashboards all over the place — and frankly, I hope we do — dashboard-makers had better do a bunch of things right. Read More

What is "New Urban Mechanics" and Why Does Philadelphia Want Some?

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 3 2012

When Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announced on Monday that Philadelphia will get a new arm of city government called the Office of New Urban Mechanics, he was signing on to a sizable experiment in how government is supposed to work.

Nutter's administration is emulating a program Boston City Hall put in place two years ago to find innovative — you might also say "untested" — ideas and see if they can make government work better. The Boston Office of New Urban Mechanics is just a handful of people led by Nigel Jacob, a former programmer, and Chris Osgood, a city official who came to Boston after a stint at New York City's Department of Parks and Recreation. Their job is to help those new solutions to old problems navigate the often tricky hallways of city bureaucracy.

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WeGov

Jordan's Flourishing IT Economy Could Falter With Passing of New Media Law

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, October 2 2012

Jordan's parliament has passed controversial legislation that would give the government sweeping powers to censor and block online content. Jordan is a regional IT innovation hub that has benefited from the small kingdom's political moderation and free Internet. But the new law could undermine both the innovation sector and online freedom of expression. Read More

WeGov

Graphic Map Shows Disappeared Mexican Journalists as Anti-Corruption Blogger 5algado is Still Missing

BY Lisa Goldman | Tuesday, September 25 2012

An infographic and map produced by freedom of speech and information advocates Articulo 19 present a grim picture of murdered and disappeared Mexican journalists. Meanwhile nothing has been heard about the anti-corruption blogger Ruy Salgado (@el5anto), who went missing three weeks ago. Read More

WeGov

[OP-ED] Are Innovation Hubs the Future of Open Government In Africa?

BY Chris R. Albon | Tuesday, September 18 2012

Members of Accadius, a project at the iHub in Nairobi, Kenya. Photo: Courtesy of Juliana Rotich

Set alongside one Nairobi’s main roadways, the Bishop Magua Centre looks on the exterior no different than any other mid-rise office building. However, inside its drab khaki walls are some of the most innovative technology projects in Africa. Why this building? Because the Bishop Magua Centre’s fourth floor is home to what has been named the “unofficial headquarters of Kenya’s tech movement,” less grandiosely called the iHub. More than simply a space to build the next Instagram, these hubs could be home to the next wave of open government innovation in Africa. Read More

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Beyond @Congressedits, Capitol Hill Looks for Entry to Wikipedia

As he recently told techPresident, the creator of Congressedits did not aim to make Members of Congress look bad, but said he hoped that they would recognize the importance of Wikipedia as a public space and engage more with its community. "If staffers and politicians identified as Wikipedians, that would be super. You could imagine politicians' home pages with a list of their recent edits, that they would be proud of the things that they are doing." On Capitol Hill, there is in fact interest in making that vision a reality, starting off with an initial conversation that could create a framework for more Wikipedians in Congress. GO

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In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. GO

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