Gov 2-0

You Never Forget Your First One: Winning LLGA2011 for San Francisco catapults SOCRATA

Not every day does an early-stage startup get an opportunity to shine on the world stage. In early 2011, Socrata then a 12-person software startup in Seattle with about 15 customers, was nominated for a Living Labs Global Award in Stockholm, by the City of San Francisco.

The Living Labs Global award recognizes innovation in cities, creating a highly visible global forum to reward cities and their technology partners for daring to try bold new approaches to solving problems. A perfect opportunity for a startup.

Socrata was fortunate to have partnered with one the world’s most innovative cities. Years before Open Data became mainstream, San Francisco realized that its data was a strategic, but idle asset, with vast untapped potential to increase the city’s service capacity and transform its relationship with residents.

San Francisco started opening up and releasing its data years ago. As the initiative gained momentum, however, San Francisco realized that it needed a scalable platform that can support the entire data-to-information continuum, from capture and collection to distribution and consumption, in the most cost-effective way possible.

In May 2011, San Francisco and Socrata won the Living Labs Global Award for their innovative plan to migrate the city’s Open Data to a new cloud-based Socrata-powered platform. On March 9th, 2012, Mayor Edwin Lee affirmed City’s ongoing commitment to Open Data through the manifestation of this plan, aptly named data.sfgov.org. The website puts City data online in a way that makes it useful to citizens, businesses, developers and even city employees.

Jay Nath, the City’s Chief Information Officer told The San Francisco Chronicle, “We had all this raw data, and you had to be an uber geek to figure it all out. This platform makes it easier.”

The new Socrata-powered San Francisco Open Data Cloud offers a wide variety of feature, architecture, and performance enhancements, including:

  • Simple, easy-to-use, citizen interfaces that allow non-technical users to interactively explore data, visualize it, and share contextually-relevant information with others, on the site, across the web, and on social networks.
  • Automatic full-text indexing of every data set’s content to facilitate online search, in addition to the ability to download the data in multiple, open, machine-readable formats.
  • Automatic API access to every data set, via the Socrata Open Data API (SODA) and access to technical support and online developer resources, which will lower the access barrier for civic developers.

Mayor Lee told TechCrunch, “Making City data more accessible to the public secures San Francisco’s future as the world’s first 2.0 City. It’s only natural that we move our Open Data platform to the cloud and adopt modern open interfaces to facilitate the flow of information and develop better tools to enhance City services.”

Jay Nath adds, “Two years ago, when we launched DataSF.org, Open Data was a visionary experiment in reinventing the government of the future. Today, with increasing worldwide adoption, we view Open Data as part of our new cloud infrastructure to deliver citizen, social, and programmatic interfaces to government services, in a much more cost-effective and agile model.”

San Francisco will continue to be one of the nation’s trailblazers in data as a platform for innovation. Socrata, now boasting over 50 of the world’s top public sector organizations like New York City, the World Bank and the United Nations, has grown by leaps and bounds since then and is now the recognized market leader in Open Data. The people of Socrata will always remember fondly the first award that recognized their work with one of the best cities anywhere in the world!

http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2012/03/12/hello-cloud-its-us-san-francisco/#comments

http://techcrunch.com/2012/03/09/san-francisco-open-data/

Code for America partners with San Francisco

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/30575113 w=400&h=225]

CfA Culture from Code for America on Vimeo.

This is a public-private partnership you’ll want to pay attention to. We introduced you to Code for America back in April. They’re a non-profit that selects several entrepreneurs to work on civic projects in their partner cities. 2011 was their first year, during which they partnered with Boston, Seattle, and Philadelphia. The results were numerous and intriguing (check out their annual report here).

For 2012, they’ve announced a few new ventures. They’re partnering with several more cities this year in addition to launching Code for America Accelerator, a start-up incubator focused on creating the next generation of government vendors. This spring, they’ll be holding several hackathons to identify the best entrepreneurs for the job. Once the team is identified, they’ll work with city partners to choose which departments are most in need of new tools, for improving things like permitting applications or records requests. See the San Francisco Chronicle article for more details.

Code for America has the potential to do for city governments what Silicon Valley has done for the tech industry. Imagine what our world would be like if the fastest, most pleasurable service experiences we had were those interactions with city governments!

-- Terra Curtis 

The Value of Open Data

SF Weekly This San Francisco Chronicle article tells the story well: city government makes bold plans to update its information systems; city government lacks the resources to keep up with communications technology development in the private sector; city government opens data; private developers do the work for them. That is the general story behind the Summer of Smart event held in San Francisco this past summer.  Private web and mobile developers came together with employees of city government and others interested in spurring the technological advance of city communications tools.

One of the apps developed at the event, SMART Muni, comes as a direct result of open access to public transit data.  It provides both Muni administrators and Muni riders with real-time data on emergencies or delays in the system by using GPS data feeds sent directly from the vehicles.  The creators of the app, which come from very diverse backgrounds, envision a more fluidly managed system that results in fewer delays and happier customers.

One salient point made by the Chronicle writer was that in the past, citizens’ only method of engagement with the government was through protest, voting, or paying taxes.  Today, they can engage through positive and constructive means, shaping their own civic engagement process.  Happier customers indeed.

- Terra Curtis

 

State of Cities' Ideas

MindMixer, who we have covered on this blog before, is a community engagement tool that markets itself as a “virtual town hall service.”  It is meant to extend the reach of governments’ public engagement campaigns by making it easier for citizens to provide input, insights, and feedback.  They’ve deployed their solution in cities as diverse as Burbank, California; Omaha, Nebraska; and Flagstaff, Arizona on topics such as transportation, budget, and master plans. A few months ago, the company pulled together all the ideas submitted by citizens in every city using their solution.  They divided the ideas into 10 categories:

(1)    Mobility

(2)    Services

(3)    Sustainability

(4)    Health

(5)    Infrastructure

(6)    Government 2.0

(7)    Safety

(8)    Housing

(9)    Parks

(10)Urban Design

Within each category, they highlighted the number of citizen ideas that relate to that category.  For example, the Mobility category most commonly included ideas on bicycles, mass transit, pedestrians, parking, and car access (in that order). State_of_Cities_Ideas

By far, Urban Design and Mobility were the two most common categories of ideas that citizens were concerned with.  Housing, Sustainability, and Government 2.0 were in the second tier.  The remaining categories (Safety, Parks, Infrastructure, Health, and Services) all received relatively little attention.

This may be surprising given news media’s frequent exaggerating of safety issues, health, and the U.S.’s crumbling infrastructure.  However, the responses seem to reflect the population that is  most likely using a solution like this – those who have access to a computer, who trust participating in an online forum, who are confident in articulating their ideas.  It seems likely that this population is younger, perhaps more likely to live in the urban center areas of these cities with access to transit and shorter bicycling and walking distances, and who perhaps have more sensibility about urban design issues due to their daily environment.

Given these results, it appears that the challenges of expanding this solution to a more diverse population still exist.  Nonetheless, it’s a great infographic that not only conveys what people are talking about but also that people are willing and able to engage in this type of public participation process.

- Terra Curtis

 

Iterative Planning

For good reason, planners are forced to consider decision for long periods of time.  Access to capital takes time, and because it is scarce, funders need to be sure investments are well-vetted and that many benefits will result. While I not only understand this necessity, but also appreciate such a forward-looking and long-term field, still I look to the tech world in envy for its rapid prototyping, iteration, and satisfaction with back-of-the-envelope calculations to justify experimentation.  Look at the speed of innovation in that field.  With the UK internet industry alone worth £100 billion, one could argue that more is at stake in their field than in ours (in the US, the last federal transportation bill set aside just $470 million annually). A balance is being sought between the two philosophies – slow, methodical decision-making vs. quick but data-backed experimentation – on San Francisco’s streets.  The city has found flexibility in pilot programs such as forcing private vehicles off Market Street, the pavement-to-parks program and newly-implemented mobile parklets.

However, what is still lacking in planning is data.  That’s one reason why technologists are so able to implement, test, change, and move on productively and efficiently.  There are clear performance measures and clear evidence when targets are not met.

This post is as much a statement of frustration as it is a plea for more focus on data in planning.  A recent post shared a video of mayoral candidates’ views of Gov 2.0 and open data, and highlighted the spectrum of perspectives on and understanding of the subject.  With the right person in office, the movement could become institutionalized, and planners should be verbal and enthusiastic about that prospect.  Planners need to be data-savvy and data-hungry.  We need to build programs like these into our plans today, where data is not only open to the public but open and accessible interdepartmentally, so planning can become more nimble.  Only then will we approach efficiency, more efficiently.

- Terra Curtis

 

Iterative Planning

For good reason, planners are forced to consider decision for long periods of time.  Access to capital takes time, and because it is scarce, funders need to be sure investments are well-vetted and that many benefits will result. While I not only understand this necessity, but also appreciate such a forward-looking and long-term field, still I look to the tech world in envy for its rapid prototyping, iteration, and satisfaction with back-of-the-envelope calculations to justify experimentation.  Look at the speed of innovation in that field.  With the UK internet industry alone worth £100 billion, one could argue that more is at stake in their field than in ours (in the US, the last federal transportation bill set aside just $470 million annually). A balance is being sought between the two philosophies – slow, methodical decision-making vs. quick but data-backed experimentation – on San Francisco’s streets.  The city has found flexibility in pilot programs such as forcing private vehicles off Market Street, the pavement-to-parks program and newly-implemented mobile parklets.

However, what is still lacking in planning is data.  That’s one reason why technologists are so able to implement, test, change, and move on productively and efficiently.  There are clear performance measures and clear evidence when targets are not met.

This post is as much a statement of frustration as it is a plea for more focus on data in planning.  A recent post shared a video of mayoral candidates’ views of Gov 2.0 and open data, and highlighted the spectrum of perspectives on and understanding of the subject.  With the right person in office, the movement could become institutionalized, and planners should be verbal and enthusiastic about that prospect.  Planners need to be data-savvy and data-hungry.  We need to build programs like these into our plans today, where data is not only open to the public but open and accessible interdepartmentally, so planning can become more nimble.  Only then will we approach efficiency, more efficiently.

- Terra Curtis

 

Advancing open government/Gov 2.0 in San Francisco

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu_-D44rCwE&w=439&h=250] The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts has partnered with the San Francisco Department of Technology to launch Summer of Smart, a three-month intensive program that brings together designers, planners, architects, technologists, developers and other urbanists to create bold new ideas to address pressing issues in San Francisco.  At the conclusion of the program, leading ideas will be presented to Mayoral candidates to inspire lasting change in the city.

The program includes three weekends of workshops covering Community Development and Public Art; Sustainability, Transportation, and Energy; and, Public Health, Food, and Nutrition.  Each weekend, attendees are asked to focus on the following question: What projects and applications should be built around urban issues facing San Francisco, and then presented to mayoral candidates for their feedback and support?

This is perhaps too big a question to start with.  It seems that necessarily the process must start by identifying the existing issues and examining the feasibility of tech or open government-type solutions.  That’s why it is so important that attendees include both those working within the government and those from the tech world.

Some solutions mentioned in their Twitter feed (#sfsos) and on the website so far include:

  • Publicly-visible eBay for government contracts
  • A management system for transit agencies to view real-time delay information, change operations
  • The Neighborhood Game, designed to inspire people to meet their neighbors and learn more about their neighborhood
  • Permit This, aggregating building permit info with building codes

A major success of the program could be simply to bring open government and technology into the mayoral debate.  This video highlights the tech (il)literacy of each of the candidates.

- Terra Curtis

 

Advancing open government/Gov 2.0 in San Francisco

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fu_-D44rCwE&w=439&h=250] The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts has partnered with the San Francisco Department of Technology to launch Summer of Smart, a three-month intensive program that brings together designers, planners, architects, technologists, developers and other urbanists to create bold new ideas to address pressing issues in San Francisco.  At the conclusion of the program, leading ideas will be presented to Mayoral candidates to inspire lasting change in the city.

The program includes three weekends of workshops covering Community Development and Public Art; Sustainability, Transportation, and Energy; and, Public Health, Food, and Nutrition.  Each weekend, attendees are asked to focus on the following question: What projects and applications should be built around urban issues facing San Francisco, and then presented to mayoral candidates for their feedback and support?

This is perhaps too big a question to start with.  It seems that necessarily the process must start by identifying the existing issues and examining the feasibility of tech or open government-type solutions.  That’s why it is so important that attendees include both those working within the government and those from the tech world.

Some solutions mentioned in their Twitter feed (#sfsos) and on the website so far include:

  • Publicly-visible eBay for government contracts
  • A management system for transit agencies to view real-time delay information, change operations
  • The Neighborhood Game, designed to inspire people to meet their neighbors and learn more about their neighborhood
  • Permit This, aggregating building permit info with building codes

A major success of the program could be simply to bring open government and technology into the mayoral debate.  This video highlights the tech (il)literacy of each of the candidates.

- Terra Curtis

 

Eight Cities Announce Winners to Solve Major Urban Challenges at LLGA2011

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei announce the winners of the Living Labs Global Award 2011.

The Award presented the major challenges faced by these cities in the coming years, to which 245 companies from 30 countries responded by presenting their solutions. With rapidly growing populations, budget pressures due to the financial crisis and increasing international competition for investment, talent and tourists cities are looking for innovative approaches to remain competitive. Cities represent a major, yet complex market, spending an annual EUR 3.5 trillion in public procurement alone

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei have announced eight winning solutions that were selected by 45 international users out of 245 submissions from 30 countries. Winning solutions will now be piloted in the participating cities, to evaluate their impact to meet the challenges.

In a unique global effort, eight cities joined forces with Living Labs Global to present their pressing challenges to the global business and technology community.

Challenges put forward by cities include the need to provide more efficient and sustainable urban services such as lighting using latest LED technologies; to rethink city services in the light of open data and apps developed by interest groups; to overcome media piracy undermining native film industries through digital distribution systems; or the need to provide financing and support to social entrepreneurs in African cities. The winning solutions are:

City of Barcelona: Citysolver, by Bitcarrier

City of Cape Town:  Venture Capital Cultivator Fund, by PoweredbyVC

City of Eindhoven: Integral Solution for Urban Infrastructures (SIIUR), by bdigital

City of Lagos: Eggup | Sell your films while preventing piracy, by Eggup.com

City of San Francisco: Open Data as a Platform for Citizen Service Delivery, by Socrata Inc.

City of Sant Cugat: Smart Parking for Smart Urban Living, by Worldsensing

City of Stockholm: Spotscout, by Spotscout Inc.

City of Taipei: A+ Care: Smart Autonomous TeleHealth Care Service, by Netown

Winners were announced after an international two-round jury process under auspices of Living Labs Global, a non-profit association based in Copenhagen working with 40 cities and 450 companies around the world to promote service innovation in cities.

The Award Ceremony was attended by 200 participants from 20 countries in Stockholm as part of the Stockholm Summit for Service Innovation in Cities.

The Living Labs Global Award 2011 is a unique global process providing full accountability in the evaluation through independent experts. The Award was carried out in partnership with Oracle Corporation, Farglory and supporting organisations from around the world.

About the Living Labs Global Award

Living Labs Global is a non-profit association based in Copenhagen (Denmark), working with 40 cities and 450 companies and research centres in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas with a mission to open the market for service innovation in cities and overcoming key technology, organisation and trade barriers.

The Living Labs Global Award is an annual process over 8 months in which cities present their challenges and provide guidance to the business and technology community on future investment plans and needs. Solution providers respond by submitting existing technologies as entries for evaluation by an international jury.

Follow results and the upcoming Living Labs Global Award 2012 on Twitter. Facts: More than 557,000 local governments provide services to more than 50% of the world’s population with an annual spending of 3.5 Trillion Euros per year. New technologies can radically improve transport and mobility systems, access to finance, media distribution, social services and other key areas of urban life.

Eight Cities Announce Winners to Solve Major Urban Challenges at LLGA2011

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei announce the winners of the Living Labs Global Award 2011.

The Award presented the major challenges faced by these cities in the coming years, to which 245 companies from 30 countries responded by presenting their solutions. With rapidly growing populations, budget pressures due to the financial crisis and increasing international competition for investment, talent and tourists cities are looking for innovative approaches to remain competitive. Cities represent a major, yet complex market, spending an annual EUR 3.5 trillion in public procurement alone

The cities of Barcelona, Cape Town, Eindhoven, Lagos, San Francisco, Sant Cugat, Stockholm and Taipei have announced eight winning solutions that were selected by 45 international users out of 245 submissions from 30 countries. Winning solutions will now be piloted in the participating cities, to evaluate their impact to meet the challenges.

In a unique global effort, eight cities joined forces with Living Labs Global to present their pressing challenges to the global business and technology community.

Challenges put forward by cities include the need to provide more efficient and sustainable urban services such as lighting using latest LED technologies; to rethink city services in the light of open data and apps developed by interest groups; to overcome media piracy undermining native film industries through digital distribution systems; or the need to provide financing and support to social entrepreneurs in African cities. The winning solutions are:

City of Barcelona: Citysolver, by Bitcarrier

City of Cape Town:  Venture Capital Cultivator Fund, by PoweredbyVC

City of Eindhoven: Integral Solution for Urban Infrastructures (SIIUR), by bdigital

City of Lagos: Eggup | Sell your films while preventing piracy, by Eggup.com

City of San Francisco: Open Data as a Platform for Citizen Service Delivery, by Socrata Inc.

City of Sant Cugat: Smart Parking for Smart Urban Living, by Worldsensing

City of Stockholm: Spotscout, by Spotscout Inc.

City of Taipei: A+ Care: Smart Autonomous TeleHealth Care Service, by Netown

Winners were announced after an international two-round jury process under auspices of Living Labs Global, a non-profit association based in Copenhagen working with 40 cities and 450 companies around the world to promote service innovation in cities.

The Award Ceremony was attended by 200 participants from 20 countries in Stockholm as part of the Stockholm Summit for Service Innovation in Cities.

The Living Labs Global Award 2011 is a unique global process providing full accountability in the evaluation through independent experts. The Award was carried out in partnership with Oracle Corporation, Farglory and supporting organisations from around the world.

About the Living Labs Global Award

Living Labs Global is a non-profit association based in Copenhagen (Denmark), working with 40 cities and 450 companies and research centres in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas with a mission to open the market for service innovation in cities and overcoming key technology, organisation and trade barriers.

The Living Labs Global Award is an annual process over 8 months in which cities present their challenges and provide guidance to the business and technology community on future investment plans and needs. Solution providers respond by submitting existing technologies as entries for evaluation by an international jury.

Follow results and the upcoming Living Labs Global Award 2012 on Twitter. Facts: More than 557,000 local governments provide services to more than 50% of the world’s population with an annual spending of 3.5 Trillion Euros per year. New technologies can radically improve transport and mobility systems, access to finance, media distribution, social services and other key areas of urban life.

Layar

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtpNx7Y14d0&w=440&h=278] Layar is a mobile phone app-developing company based in Amsterdam.  The premise of their app, also called Layar, is augmented reality.  They’ve received two funding rounds so far for a total of €13.4 million with partial financial support from Intel Capital.  They were highlighted at Google Zeitgeist, named a 2011 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum and TIME Magazine.  They won the title “Disruptive Innovatorat” at the 2010 Deloitte Fast50 and won Grand Prix 2010 at Netexplorateur.  Needless to say, if they’re not big now, big names think they’ll be big in the future.

So, what’s all the hype about?  If you watch the video above you’ll get a taste of it.  The real brilliance of this app is its simplicity.  Layar has taken an extremely complex topic (merging the virtual and real worlds) with infinite dimensions (history, future, gaming, education, entertainment, engagement, etc) and made it not only accessible but intuitive.  It makes you wonder, ‘why didn’t I think of that?’

In its current state, it feels like a fun toy, but I think it has the potential to be quite a game changer.  I’ve used it to check out crime in my area with SpotCrime.  From anywhere, I turn on the app and point my camera outward and Layar displays crime icons over the backdrop of my actual surroundings.  It’s really powerful, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  It’s essentially a platform for all spatial data, and we’re not just talking about shapefiles for a static GIS.  These data are real time, often created by you or your friends (e.g. Yelp, Flickr, Foursquare) or even by the local government (e.g. PlanningAlerts).

Use of Layar has the potential to engage more citizens more actively in their local surroundings.  It can help planners translate development proposals into real images that citizens can see while walking down the street.  It can enhance impact assessment, where developers, city officials, planners, and citizens can visualize what facilitating automobile use will do to congestion and to the public realm.  Check it out and see what you think it can do for you.

-Terra Curtis

Code for America

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkceyKlYrJo&w=440&h=278] I was surprised when I realized I hadn’t yet blogged about Code for America.  I mentioned it in a post last week about the future of technology and planning, and then came across it again reading Arc User: The Magazine for ESRI Software Users. For those unfamiliar, ESRI is the company that produces the most widely-used GIS software – ArcMAP.  Turns out they’re also advising the Code for America program.

So, what is Code for America (CfA)?  They’re a new non-profit that teams with cities, figures out a challenge the city is facing that could be solved most cost-effectively with a tech/web 2.0 solution, and recruits technologist fellows to spend about 10 months working out the solutions.  The result is that cities get their problems solved cheaper (and faster) than doing it on their own and the technologists get to do good while doing what they love.

This round, CfA has partnered with Boston, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Washington DC.  The intent is that they’ll solve each city’s challenge in an open and transferable way, creating solutions that apply to any municipality in the US.  Boston has challenged the fellows to improve high school education through an engaging web platform; Seattle is looking for a mechanism to enable more fluid collaboration between and among communities and public safety officials; Washington DC is expanding upon its own Apps for Democracy project, creating a manual to assist other governments in their open data programs; and, Philadelphia has asked for a solution to allow citizen collaboration on neighborhood services.

CfA is currently in full swing, with all fellows working together out of San Francisco.  We should expect the first round of solutions in September with a hand-off to cities in October and November.  In the meantime, they’re already recruiting for the next team of technologist.  Act fast because the early deadline has already passed!

-Terra Curtis

 

Living PlanIT

What we try to do at Living Labs is to solve problems.  Well, we try to help you solve problems by giving you easy access to creative and innovative solutions.  We have found companies that help you park your bike securely, companies that bring health care into the home, and companies to help people reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.  Taken separately, these things are all very valuable, but imagine how valuable it would be to solve all these problems in coordination. [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCepxs36pP4&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Living PlanIT is thinking about just that.  They’ve likened cities to operating systems and construction companies to “original design manufacturers” (ODMs).  It wants to create a system for efficient, sustainable, smart city management.  It has already partnered with tech powerhouses Cisco and McLaren Electronic Systems and is planning to build PlanIT Valley in Portugal very soon.  PlanIT Valley will be built on a Greenfield site and will showcase the ideal intelligent city.

So far, it’s unclear to me how this model will work for infill rather than Greenfield development.  It would take a lot of retrofits to apply all the new smart technology in the physical environment, let alone to win over the cognitive management structure that is so slow to change in big city governments.  But, I think the effort is well-intentioned and, even if only pieces of the new technology can be applied in existing cities, they, and the world as a whole, will be better off.

-Terra Curtis

This We Know

This We Know is a new website with a mission to aggregate and provide access to all publicly available information in one place.  It’s using data released on the government website Data.gov, allowing users to query the information for any U.S. location. For example, when searching for 94110 (San Francisco, CA), I see instantly that there are 10 factories within 7 miles, that 109,565 residents are Hispanic as compared to 385,325 whites, and that there are almost twice as many renters as home owners in San Francisco. At first glance, I find it incredibly interesting and imagine it to be immensely useful.  Imagine what will happen with this new transparency!  The citizenry will respond with outrage that they could be subject to so many pollutants and hold industry accountable for global warming and carcinogens!  But then I opened another Chrome tab and navigated away.

I am not denying the benefits of universal data access (especially in as nice and easy-to-read format as with This We Know), however it brings up the more important question of impact.  People have access to all sorts of beneficial things (healthy food, bicycles, books) and yet so many of us choose the alternatives (fast food, fossil fuel powered cars, mass media).  How to we translate access into impact?  I pose this question to you.

-Terra Curtis

This We Know

This We Know is a new website with a mission to aggregate and provide access to all publicly available information in one place.  It’s using data released on the government website Data.gov, allowing users to query the information for any U.S. location. For example, when searching for 94110 (San Francisco, CA), I see instantly that there are 10 factories within 7 miles, that 109,565 residents are Hispanic as compared to 385,325 whites, and that there are almost twice as many renters as home owners in San Francisco. At first glance, I find it incredibly interesting and imagine it to be immensely useful.  Imagine what will happen with this new transparency!  The citizenry will respond with outrage that they could be subject to so many pollutants and hold industry accountable for global warming and carcinogens!  But then I opened another Chrome tab and navigated away.

I am not denying the benefits of universal data access (especially in as nice and easy-to-read format as with This We Know), however it brings up the more important question of impact.  People have access to all sorts of beneficial things (healthy food, bicycles, books) and yet so many of us choose the alternatives (fast food, fossil fuel powered cars, mass media).  How to we translate access into impact?  I pose this question to you.

-Terra Curtis

Government and Transit 2.0

The concept of Government 2.0 is buzzing around the conversations of freelance developers and public officials alike.  The idea is to create transparency of government and to facilitate better communication between decision makers and affected populations. It is such a popular topic at the moment that a simple search of Twitter reveals 45 people talking about it in the last hour alone.  The people tweeting include the CIO of the City of Edmonton, an internet radio broadcaster, a mobile app developer, an issue documenting web service called SeeClickFix, and Katie Jacobs Stanton, Barack Obama's appointee to the position of Director of Citizen Participation.  She worked at Google previously.

Government 2.0 so far has manifested itself in a variety of examples. Routsey is an iPhone app that allows users to access public bus routes and schedules in San Francisco.  It uses data from nextbus.com. BART Droid is a similar app for Google's Android system that connects users with public transit data for BART, the San Francisco Bay Area's regional train system.  It includes a zoom-able system map and fares and uses data from bart.gov.  The State of Massachusetts Department of Transportation hosts a developers' webpage with resources and links to available real-time and static transportation data.  Recently, the Department held a developers challenge to produce software of physical installations using the publicly-available data.  The results were impressive and saved the state tens of thousands of dollars.  A national example is SeeClickFix, which "matches issues and fixes by keyword and geography."

Government and Transit 2.0

The concept of Government 2.0 is buzzing around the conversations of freelance developers and public officials alike.  The idea is to create transparency of government and to facilitate better communication between decision makers and affected populations. It is such a popular topic at the moment that a simple search of Twitter reveals 45 people talking about it in the last hour alone.  The people tweeting include the CIO of the City of Edmonton, an internet radio broadcaster, a mobile app developer, an issue documenting web service called SeeClickFix, and Katie Jacobs Stanton, Barack Obama's appointee to the position of Director of Citizen Participation.  She worked at Google previously.

Government 2.0 so far has manifested itself in a variety of examples. Routsey is an iPhone app that allows users to access public bus routes and schedules in San Francisco.  It uses data from nextbus.com. BART Droid is a similar app for Google's Android system that connects users with public transit data for BART, the San Francisco Bay Area's regional train system.  It includes a zoom-able system map and fares and uses data from bart.gov.  The State of Massachusetts Department of Transportation hosts a developers' webpage with resources and links to available real-time and static transportation data.  Recently, the Department held a developers challenge to produce software of physical installations using the publicly-available data.  The results were impressive and saved the state tens of thousands of dollars.  A national example is SeeClickFix, which "matches issues and fixes by keyword and geography."