BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, February 7 2014
Last week, the White House made something of a splash with its Big Block of Cheese Day, encouraging internet users to ask members of the Obama administration and the White House staff questions on social media. A new platform officially launching Monday hopes to provide voters with the opportunity to pose questions to elected officials and other prominent figures every day of the year, in some ways echoing an ongoing Ask Me Anything concept. Read More
BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, October 30 2013
City governments and tech entrepreneurs both want to make government more efficient and effective (who doesn't?), but that doesn’t make the task easy for either side. City requests for procurement define problems with such precision that they can block out creative solutions, and established bureaucratic folkways can make process shake-ups a challenge to implement. On the tech side, there isn’t always an understanding of where government might actually be helped, or that some problems will require more than an weekend of app making. “We’re trying to solve both ends,” says Garrett Melby, founder of GoodCompany Ventures, which supports early stage companies with a positive social impact. Melby is looking to bridge the gap between tech entrepreneurs and city government. Along with the City of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business he's promoting a new civic start up accelerator called FastFWD. The program will bring the leaders of ten early stage civic tech projects to Philadelphia in January. The fellows will receive a $10,000 fellowship from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and three months of intensive business mentorship, and access to people working directly in government. When the accelerator or “urban innovation refinery” as it styles itself concludes, the best ideas will get a try out within the city of Philadelphia. Read More
BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 16 2013
Glenn Greenwald's leaving The Guardian for a new journalism start-up financed by Pierre Omidyar; news from the Code for America Summit; HealthCare.gov's dismal sign-up numbers; and much, much more. Read More
BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, July 10 2013
For urbanites in Philadelphia looking to make a garden from one of the city’s 35,000 or so unused lots, the most common advice has consisted of two words: good luck. That’s because while data on any given parcel is technically open there, actually figuring out who owns it, or if anything can be done with it, can require a spelunking expedition into the dark caverns of city bureaucracy. Organizers and developers have launched a new project to make it easier to find and utilize vacant land. Read More
BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, March 25 2013
BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, January 15 2013
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's administration continues its own experiment in building a tech-savvy City Hall by appointing a "director of civic technology." Tim Wisniewski, 24, will move to the role from a position as assistant city managing director. He has been part of the city government since January 2012, and served prior to that as the executive director of a nonprofit working to improve commerce in the business corridor of a low-income neighborhood. While working for the city, he was the project manager on development of a mobile application for the city's 311 non-emergency services system. Read More
BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, December 12 2012
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.Read More
BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, October 2 2012
Inspired by Boston, the city of Philadelphia is establishing its own Office of New Urban Mechanics, said the city's Mayor Michael Nutter late Monday at the Code for America Summit.
"New Urban Mechanics Philadelphia is a nimble and entrepreneurial government outfit," Nutter said during a Monday afternoon speech in San Francisco. "It is piloting and prototyping small innovative projects in the civic space, which along with efforts of individuals across multiple city departments, will better enable our city to sustain a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial approaches to problem-solving."Read More
BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, September 13 2012
Sadly, money does not grow on trees. But a new Kickstarter-style platform's first project is based on the idea that maybe the reverse can be true.
Citizinvestor, a platform to crowdfund civic projects, officially launched Wednesday in Philadelphia with its first project: TreePhilly, a campaign led by Philadelphia Parks & Recreation in partnership with Wells Fargo and Fairmount Park Conservancy, to plant trees throughout the city. The project partners are asking the good people of Philadelphia to put up $12,875 towards the idea in the next 59 days. So far 18 backers have given a total of $555.Read More