O’Malley answered 19 questions this morning, not 5, a fact that could be easily and quickly ascertained by clicking on GovMartinOMalley, the username he used for the AMA, including a (short) answer to a question on mental health that the Post said went unanswered. (An editor made multiple corrections and updates to the Post’s story after I pointed that out.)
He subsequently logged back on in the afternoon to answer more questions, rebutting the Post’s assessment and that of a user: “I don’t know, I’m having fun! This is my first AMA. I had to step away to sign a bunch of bills, and I’m glad to be back,” he commented.
He answered at least one tough question (from a questioner who appears to have joined Reddit today) after doing so, although the answer hasn’t been highly rated:
@bmoreprogressive91: Thanks for doing an AMA. Just one question: How does the Maryland healthcare exchange, which cost taxpayers $90 million to implement before your administration found that it would be cheaper (at an additional $40-50 million) to just replace it than to fix it, show that your Administration has been effectively using taxpayer dollars to better the lives of individual citizens?
O’Malley: No one was more frustrated than I was about the fact that our health exchange website didn’t work properly when we launched. But our health exchange is more than a web site, and we worked hard to overcome the technical problems. We have enrolled about 329,000 people thus far, exceeding the goal we set of 260,000. I often say that we haven’t always succeeded at first, but we have never given up. We learn from both success and failure.
By the end of the day, Maryland’s governor answered 36 questions in total. (You can read a cleanly formatted version of O’Malley’s AMA at Interview.ly). Reddit users rated the quality of some answers much higher than others, with the most popular answer, “Yes,” coming in response to whether he would support a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.
To be fair — and reasonable observers should be — Reddit’s utility for extracting answers from a politician isn’t so great, as Alexis Madrigal pointed out after President Barack Obama did an AMA, back in 2012. That said, I’m generally supportive of elected leaders engaging directly with constituents online using the tools and platforms that citizens are active upon themselves.
Popular questions that go unanswered can be instructive and offer some insight into what issues a given politician would rather not talk about in public. As such, they’re fine fodder for media to report upon. The record online, however, also means that when a reporter botches the job or misrepresents an interaction, question or answer, we can all see that, too.
Postscript: Andrew MacRae was critical of the governor and his team’s approach to Reddit and offered a tip for other politicians that venture onto the social news platform for an AMA. More on that in the embedded tweets, below:
“Starting today any ArcGIS Online organization can enable open data, specify open data groups and create and publicize their open data through a simple, hosted and best practices web application,” wrote Andrew Turner, chief technology officer of Esri’s Research and Development Center in D.C., in a blog post about the public beta of Open Data ArcGIS. “Originally previewed at FedGIS ArcGIS Open Data is now public beta where we will be working with the community on feedback, ideas, improvements and integrations to ensure that it exemplifies the opportunity of true open sharing of data.”
Turner highlighted what this would mean for both sides of the open data equation: supply and demand.
Data providers can create open data groups within their organizations, designating data to be open for download and re-use, hosting the data on the ArcGIS site. They can also create public microsites for the public to explore. (Example below.) Turner also highlighted the code for Esri’s open-source GeoPortal Server on Github as a means to add metadata to data sets.
Data users, from media to developers to nonprofits to schools to businesses to other government entities, will be able to download data in common open formats, including KML, Spreadsheet (CSV), Shapefile, GeoJSON and GeoServices.
“That’s what you now have. Users can also subscribe to the RSS feed of updates and comments about any dataset in order to keep up with new releases or relevant supporting information. As many of you are likely aware, the reality of these two perspectives are not far apart. It is often easiest for organizations to collaborate with one another by sharing data to the public. In government, making data openly available means departments within the organization can also easily find and access this data just as much as public users can.”
Turner highlighted what an open data site would look like in the wild:
“Data Driven Detroit a great example of organizations sharing data. They were able to leverage their existing data to quickly publish open data such as census, education or housing. As someone who lived near Detroit, I can attest to the particular local love and passion the people have for their city and state – and how open data empowers citizens and businesses to be part of the solution to local issues.
It also could be a banner year for open data in general, if governments follow through on their promises to release more of it in reusable forms. By making it easy to upload data, hosting it for free and publishing it in the open formats developers commonly use in 2014, Esri is removing three major roadblocks governments face after a mandate to “open up” come from a legislature, city council, or executive order from the governor or mayor’s office.
“The processes in use to publish open data are unreasonably complicated,” said Waldo Jacquith, director of the U.S. Open Data Institute, in an email.
“As technologist Dave Guarino recently wrote, basically inherent to the process of opening data is ETL: “extract-transform-load” operations. This means creating a lot of fragile, custom code, and the prospect of doing that for every dataset housed by every federal agency, 50 states, and 90,000 local governments is wildly impractical.
Esri is blazing the trail to the sustainable way to open data, which is to open it up where it’s already housed as closed data. When opening data is as simple as toggling an “open/closed” selector, there’s going to be a lot more of it. (To be fair, there are many types of data that contain personally identifiable information, sensitive information, etc. The mere flipping of a switch doesn’t address those problems.)
Esri is a gold mine of geodata, and the prospect of even a small percentage of that being released as open data is very exciting.”
According to Code for DC, their team will published all responses collected, after the street addresses are excluded, on OpenDataDC, “a public catalog of civic data built by and for the people of Washington.” The group will continue to collect responses until mid-May 2014, sharing them with the Boundary Review Advisory Committee, the relevant government entity entrusted with working on the proposals. You can find more a bit more context about the app and the issues at WAMU.org.
Our DC Schools builds upon the data behind the Washington Post’s interactive news app, which also enables people to perform a similar geographic search, and then goes one step further than the newspaper, giving people tools to rate proposed changes and send it on to local government.
According to Code for DC, the idea for the civic app came from Chris Given, when he saw how much data was available regarding the issue
“I attended a public working group meeting at Dunbar High School and while I was impressed by the dedication of the Deputy Mayor for Education and DC Public Schools staff, I was just bowled over by the scale of the challenge of getting meaningful feedback from everyone these policies affect,” said Given, in a statement. “I wanted to create an on-ramp for engaging with a really complex issue.”
In personalizing and visualizing the school district changes, unpacking these proposals for assignment and connecting feedback concerned citizens affected by the proposals to policy makers at local government, these volunteers are demonstrating how open government data and the World Wide Web can inform residents and stimulate citizen engagement in matters of great public interest.
Notably, the civic app came to life through a collaboration between Code for DC and the office of the district’s Deputy Mayor for Education (DME). It’s an effort to use modern technology to better engage the people of DC in their government.
“The Our Schools DC app is an example of what can be achieved when government collaborates with citizens to find solutions to common problems. In addition to providing valuable information, it’s a means of public engagement that will help city leaders better meet the educational needs of communities throughout the district,” said Traci L. Hughes, Director of the District of Columbia Office of Open Government, in a statement.
Given the considerable attention that the economic outcomes of open data releases has received over the past year, with trillions of dollars in potential value flowing across headlines, it’s worth reminding everyone of the impacts of open data beyond the bottom line. Thankfully, Emily Shaw, the national policy manager at the Sunlight Foundation, did exactly that in a blog post today, including a handy briefing document that I have embedded below. She credited her colleagues for the brief:
“Democratic governance improves when people have data that helps them see how officials are doing relative to past or promised performance,” she wrote.
As Shaw highlighted in her post, open data can increase the transparency of governments, corporations, journalism or academia. Its release and analysis can and does hold those same entities accountable. Open data can enable efficiencies in information search, access and retrieval, supporting the case of those looking for the return on investment in these kinds of open government initiatives. And open data can support and enhance civic engagement and participation between the people and their government.
The City of Boston has joined the growing list of cities around the world that have adopted open data. The executive order issued yesterday by Mayor Marty Walsh has been hailed by open government advocates around the country. The move to open up Boston’s data has been followed by action, with 411 data sets listed on data.cityofboston.gov as of this morning. The EO authorizes and requires Boston’s chief information officer to issue a City of Boston Open Data Policy and “include standards for the format and publishing of such data and guidance on accessibility, re-use and minimum documentation for such data.”
The element on re-use is critical: the success of such initiatives should be judged based upon the network effects of open data releases, not the raw amount of data published online, and improvements to productivity, efficiency, city services, accountability and transparency.
Notably, Boston City Councilor-at-Large Michelle Wu also filed a proposal yesterday morning to create an open data ordinance that would require city agencies and departments to make open data available, codifying the executive order into statue as San Francisco, New York City and Philadelphia have done.
“Government today should center on making data-driven decisions and inviting in the public to collaborate around new ideas and solutions,” said Wu, in a statement. “The goal of this ordinance is greater transparency, access, and innovation. We need a proactive, not a reactive, approach to information accessibility and open government.”
Notably, she posted the text of her proposed open data ordinance online on Monday, unlike the city government, and tweeted a link to it. (It took until today for the city of Boston to post the order; city officials have yet to share it on social media. )
“Boston is a world-class city full of energy and talent,” said Wu. “In addition to promoting open government, making information available to the fullest extent possible will help leverage Boston’s energy and talent for civic innovation. From public hackathons to breaking down silos between city departments, putting more data online can help us govern smarter for residents in every neighborhood.”
As long-time readers know, I lived in Boston for a decade. It’s good to see the city government move forward to making the people’s data available to them for use and reuse. I look forward to seeing what the dynamic tech, financial, health care, educational and research communities in the greater Boston area do with it.
EXECUTIVE ORDER OF MAYOR MARTIN J. WALSH
An Order Relative to Open Data and Protected Data Sharing
Whereas, it is the policy of the City of Boston to practice Open Government, favoring participation, transparency, collaboration and engagement with the people of the City and its stakeholders; and
Whereas, information technologies, including web-based and other Internet applications and services, are an essential means for Open Government, and good government generally; and
Whereas, the City of Boston should continue, expand and deepen the City’s innovative use of information technology toward the end of Open Government, including development and use of mobile computing and applications, provision of online data, services and transactions; and
Whereas, the City of Boston also has an obligation to protect some data based upon privacy, confidentiality and other requirements and must ensure that protected data not be released in violation of applicable constraints; and
Whereas, clarification and definition of open data, privacy, security requirements, interoperability and interaction flows is necessary for the City’s Open Government agenda;
NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to the authority vested in me as Chief Executive Officer of the City of Boston by St. 1948, c. 452 Section 11, as appearing in St. 1951, c. 376, Section 1, and every other power hereto enabling, I hereby order and direct as follows:
1. The City of Boston recognizes Open Government as a key means for enabling public participation, transparency, collaboration and effective government, including by ensuring the availability and use of Open Data, appropriate security and sharing of Protected Data, effective use of Identity and Access Management and engagement of stakeholders and experts toward the achievement of Open Government.
2. The City of Boston Chief Information Officer (“CIO”), in consultation with City departments, is authorized and directed to issue a City of Boston Open Data Policy.
a) The Open Data Policy shall include standards for the format and publishing of such data and guidance on accessibility, re-use and minimum documentation for such data;
b) The Open Data Policy shall include guidance for departments on the classification of their data sets as public or protected and a method to report such classification to the CIO. All departments shall publish their public record data sets on the City of Boston open data portal to the extent such data sets are determined to be appropriate for public disclosure, and/or if appropriate, may publish their public record data set through other methods, in accordance with API, format, accessibility and other guidance of the Open Data Policy.
3. The City of Boston CIO, in consultation with City departments, is authorized and directed to issue a City of Boston Protected Data Policy applicable to non-public data, such as health data, educational records and other protected data;
a) The policy shall provide guidance on the management of Protected Data, including guidance on security and other controls to safeguard Protected Data, including appropriate Identity and Access Management and good practice guidelines for compliance with legal or other rules requiring the sharing of Protected Data with authorized parties upon the grant of consent, by operation of law or when otherwise so required;
b) The policy shall provide a method to ensure approval by the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston to confirm Protected Data is only disclosed in accordance with the Policy.
4. This Executive Order is not intended to diminish or alter the rights or obligations afforded under the Massachusetts Public Records Law, Chapter 66, Section 10 of the Massachusetts General Laws and the exemptions under Chapter 4, Section 7(26). Additionally, this Executive Order is intended to be interpreted consistent with Federal, Commonwealth, and local laws and regulations regarding the privacy, confidentiality, and security of data. Nothing herein shall authorize the disclosure of data that is confidential, private, exempt or otherwise legally protected unless such disclosure is authorized by law and approved by the Corporation Counsel of the City of Boston.
5. This Executive Order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the City of Boston, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
6. The City of Boston CIO is authorized and directed to regularly consult with experts, thought leaders and key stakeholders for the purpose of exploring options for the implementation of policies and practices arising under or related to this Executive Order.
As David Moore, founder of PPF, put it, “AskThem is like a version of the White House’s “We The People” petition platform, but for over 142,000 elected officials nationwide.”
The platform is an evolution from earlier attempts to ask questions of candidates for public office, like “10 Questions” from Personal Democracy Media, or the myriad online town halls that governors and the White House have been holding for years.
AskThem enables anyone to pose a question to any elected official or Verified Twitter account. Notably, the cleanly designed Web app uses geolocation to enable users to learn who represents them, in of itself a valuable service.
As with e-petitions, AskThem users can then sign questions they support, voting them up and sharing the questions with their social networks. When a given question hits a preset threshold, the platform delivers the questions to to the public figure and “encourages a public response.”
That last bit is key: there’s no requirement for someone to respond, for the response itself to be substantive, nor for the public figure to act. There’s only the network effect of public pressure to make any of that happen.
After a year of development, Moore was excited to see the platform go live today, noting a number of precedents set in the process.
“I believe we’re the first open-source web app to support geolocation of elected officials, down to the municipal level, from street address,” he said, via email. “And I believe we’re the first to offer access to over 142,000 elected officials through our combined data sources. And I believe we’re the first to incorporate open government data for informed questions of elected officials at every level of government.”
AskThem goes online just in time for tomorrow’s day of action against mass surveillance, where over 5,000 websites will try to activate their users to contact their elected representatives in Washington. Whether it gets much use or not will depend on awareness of the new tool.
Readers should also be aware of an important disclosure: Code for America paid for the costs of my travel to and from San Francisco and has further engaged me to produce paid analysis of the themes extant at the event. Part of our agreement, however, was that the organization would have no editorial control or discretion with respect to what I write about the event, organization, partners or constituents.
For veterans of such efforts, a portal to mapping data may not be particularly exciting or useful, but it’s a start. Notably, the city has put up anonline survey where people can request other kind of city data and suggest changes or improvements to the pilot website.
Here’s a few suggestions:
1) Study how the cities of Chicago and New York cleaned, published and used data, including market demand.
3) Make a list of every single request for data made by journalists in Los Angeles under the California Records ActRelease the data and proactively publish that type of data going forward.
4) If your goal is economic outcomes from open data, review all requests for city data from businesses and prioritize release of those data sets. Engage startups and venture capitalists who are consuming open data and ask about quality, formats and frequency of release.
6) Check out the new NYC.gov, Utah.gov and gov.uk in the United Kingdom for ideas, principles and models. Of note: the use of open standards, citizen-centricity, adaptive Web design, powerful search, focus on modern design aesthetic.
On June 27, the White House asked for nominations for civic hackers that have built tools that helped to meet the needs of the public. This morning, the Obama administration honored 15 different Americans for their work on open government and “civic hacking.”
Politico’s Morning Tech reported that Intel will fund some of the projects created at the National Day of Civic Hacking to the tune of some $20,000 – a piece. “It’s unclear how many they’ll support, but the chipmaker will pick projects that envision a more data-oriented society and use datasets from a diverse array of industries,” wrote Alex Byers. “They’ll announce the recipients over the next few weeks.” (If any readers hear of such grants, please let me know.)
Following is a small sample of tweets from or about the event, followed by a list of the men and women who were honored today, biographies provided by the White House press office, and links to their organizations and/or work. I’ll post video when it’s available.
Steve Spiker (Spike) is the Director of Research & Technology at the Urban Strategies Council, a social change nonprofit supporting innovation and collaboration based in Oakland for almost 25 years. He leads the Council’s research, spatial analysis, civic innovation, open data, and technology efforts. Spike has research experience in community development, housing, criminology, spatial epidemiology and reentry issues. He loves data, visualization, GIS and strategic technology implementation, especially open source tech. Spike is the co-founder of OpenOakland, a Code for America Brigade and is helping guide government technology decisions and civic engagement in the East Bay. In 2012 Spike was chosen as one of the Next American City Vanguard class. He is an outspoken supporter of open data and open government and speaks across the USA about data driven decision making. He also campaigns to end human trafficking and runs Stealing Beauty Photography.
Travis Laurendine, Founder and CEO of LA Labs New Orleans, LA
Travis Laurendine doesn’t fit in the typical bio box any more than his hair fits into the typical hat. As a serial entrepreneur he has been on the cutting edge of both the web startup and entertainment industry for nearly 10 years. He launched his first web startup while an Economics major at Vanderbilt University, where he was also selected as the first Vanderbilt student with a film to make it in the Nashville Film Festival. When Hurricane Katrina struck his hometown of New Orleans, he stayed back in the city and found himself wearing the hats of startup CEO, concert promoter, restaurant general manager, standup comic, film/video producer and director, MTV News journalist, band manager/agent, investor, hackathon organizer, Entrepreneur-In- Residence, and cultural ambassador. Recently, he founded Louisiana’s first hackathon organization, CODEMKRS, which is currently being transformed into Louisiana’s only modern code school. This summer he has organized hackathons for giant music festivals JazzFest and Bonnaroo and is currently planning San Francisco’s Outside Lands’ first hackathon. His official job is being the founder and CEO of LA Labs, a startup laboratory focused on the marriage of entertainment and technology that uses New Orleans as the ultimate creative incubator. He is thankful for his loving family and friends and the daily inspiration he gets from the great city of New Orleans.
Scott Phillips, Co-Founder and CEO of Isocentric Networks Tulsa, OK
Scott Phillips is the co-founder and CEO of Isocentric Networks, an advanced data center services company based in Tulsa, OK. He was previously the founder and CEO of a sensor technology company whose work included a project for NASA for use on a manned mission to Mars. Scott is also a founding board member of Fab Lab Tulsa, a 21st Century non-profit community center for innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM education through a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scott’s current passion lives at the nexus of entrepreneurship, the maker movement, and civic hacking, three transformative movements that he believes are democratizing how we live, work and play. According to Scott, it is easy to understand the impact of civic hacking on government when you view it in three steps; give citizens transparency, give citizens a voice, then give citizens ownership.
George Luc, Co-Founder and CEO of GivePulse Austin, TX
George Luc is Co-Founder and CEO of GivePulse, a social network that matches people to causes and enables nonprofits, companies and affinities to manage volunteers, list events and track service hours in one central community. GivePulse launched earlier this year in 2013 and has since tracked over 100K service hours and mobilized over 5K volunteers in Austin alone. George has a BS and MS in Computer Science from Virginia Tech with an emphasis in Human Computer Interaction. He spent much of his early career developing technology for people with disabilities and has worked with companies like Daylert, IBM, ESO and HomeAway. He serves as a board member of City of Austin Volunteer & Service, Austin Convention Center and Visitor’s Bureau, KLRU, Open Door Preschool, and was a City Commissioner for Austin Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities.
Craig Michael Lie Njie, CEO, Kismet World Wide Consulting Mountain View, CA
Mr. Lie Njie is CEO of Kismet World Wide Consulting, which he founded in 2002. Lie has over 20 years of professional experience and currently consults world-wide on a variety of topics including privacy, security, technology design and development, education, entrepreneurship, management, sales and marketing, and mobile application development. Lie was given his name as an honorarium for his three years of service (2005-2008) as a Peace Corps Volunteer in The Gambia, West Africa, where he designed, deployed, and taught the first two years of The Gambia’s first Bachelor’s in Computer Science program at the University of The Gambia (UTG). Today his program is still successful and sustainable. After returning from the Peace Corps, Lie recruited and managed a volunteer team to build and release the free WasteNot iOS app to help people world-wide share their good ideas for reducing environmental impact. He furthermore helped the United Nations as a technology consultant and researched and documented the privacy risks of health and fitness mobile apps.
Christopher Whitaker, Project Management Consultant at the Smart Chicago Collaborative, Chicago, IL
Christopher Whitaker is a project management consultant at the Smart Chicago Collaborative, utilizing his experience in government and community organizing to advance civic innovation in Chicago. Whitaker also serves as the Chicago Brigade Captain for Code for America, supporting civic hacking events and teaching a weekly Civic Hacking 101 class. He is a graduate of DePaul University (MPA) and Sam Houston State University (BA, Political Science). Previously, Whitaker served with the US Army in Iraq as a mechanized infantryman.
Jessica Klein, Co-Founder of Rockaway Help, Brooklyn, NY
Together with a group of journalists and residents, civic hacker and designer Jessica Klein co-founded “Rockaway Help” in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Rockaway Help is committed to empowering the community to find solutions for emergency response, preparedness and rebuilding through hyperlocal open news and the development of innovative community-designed technologies. As part of the National Day of Civic Hacking, Jessica lead workshops and hackathons for designers, engineers and Rockaway Beach, New York residents to identify problems and prototype design or technology solutions in the devastated coastal community. Jessica is currently the Creative Lead of the Mozilla Open Badges project where she promotes openness and creativity in formal and informal learning environments and develops ways for learners to design their own unique narrative around their credentials. Jessica created the Hackasaurus project, the Web X-Ray Goggles and Thimble tools to help teens learn how to code through hacking. Over the last decade, she has worked at a variety of institutions dedicated to learning including the Museum of Arts & Design, The Rubin Museum of Art, The Institute of Play, Startl, The Hive and Sesame Workshop. She also founded OceanLab NYC, a project which asked parents, teachers and kids in the NYC community to investigate their urban coastal environment through casual interaction and play.
Caitria O’Neill, Co-Founder of Recovers San Francisco, CA
Hooray for the #WHChamps Open Gov panel – championing people who aren’t tech savvy, rural communities, and working within and outside of gov
Caitria O’Neill is a co-founder of Recovers, a disaster preparedness and recovery technology company in San Francisco. After a tornado struck her hometown, Monson, MA in 2011, Caitria and her sister Morgan worked within their community to connect survivors with local skills and donations. This kind of seat-of-the-pants organizing happens in every neighborhood, after every storm. The Recovers team has turned the best practices of many efforts into a user-friendly tech toolkit for risk mitigation and community response. In less than two years they have helped hundreds of thousands of people find information, aid, and ways to pitch in. Caitria holds a BA in Government from Harvard University, FEMA NIMS/ICS certifications, and was named an Up-and- Coming CEO by Forbes Magazine. Her work has been featured by CNN Opinion, TED.com, and Bloomberg Businessweek.
Steven Clift, Founder of E-Democracy Minneapolis, Minnesota
Steven Clift is @democracy on Twitter. He launched E-Democracy.org in 1994 and it is the world’s first election information website. His “government by day, citizen by night” insights were built as leader of the State of Minnesota’s first e-government initiative. He spoke across 30 countries for over a decade from Estonia to Libya to Mongolia on open government and civic participation to support non-partisan, volunteer-powered efforts for inclusive online local democracy. An Ashoka Fellow, today he is E-Democracy’s Executive Director. He leads a dedicated team with the BeNeighbors.org effort to connect all neighbors online (and off) in public life across race and ethnicity, generations, immigrant and native-born, and more. He lives with his lovely wife and two children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Gerrie Schipske, Councilwoman on the Long Beach City Council Long Beach City, CA
At white house for champions of change award #whchamps
Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske is currently serving her second term on the Long Beach City Council. She has championed open, transparent and accountable local government since she took office in 2006 by being the first elected official in Long Beach to disclose their calendar and to communicate daily via blog, email, Facebook and Twitter. In January 2012, she took public education and transparency efforts one step further with her “Open Up Long Beach” initiative and website which provide residents increased access to the city’s every day affairs and documents, and includes opportunities for residents to “ go behind the scenes” of city operations. These efforts were lauded in California Forward’s report: The State of Transparency in California: 2013. Gerrie also brought transparency to the Medical Board of California on which she serves by initiating the requirement that members disclose each meeting any contacts they have had with interested parties. Gerrie earned her JD from Pacific Coast University School of Law, her MA from George Washington University, her BA from University of California, Irvine and her RNP from Harbor UCLA Women’s Health Care Nurse Practitioner Program. She is the author of three books on the history of Long Beach, California.
Brad Lander, New York City Council Member Brooklyn, NY
Listening to #CivicHacker panel at #whchamps. They tap the power of social media + tech + boots-on-the-ground compassion we saw after Sandy.
Brad Lander is a New York City Council Member representing Brooklyn’s 39th District, and a leader on issues of affordable housing, livable communities, the environment, and public education. Named one of “Today’s Social Justice Heroes” by The Nation magazine, Lander is co-chair of the Council’s Progressive Caucus and was one of the first councilmembers to bring “participatory budgeting” to his district, giving residents the power to decide which projects to support with their tax dollars. Prior to serving in the City Council, Brad directed the Pratt Center for Community Development and the Fifth Avenue Committee, a nationally-recognized community development organization.
Robert Davis, Co-Founder of RadSocial Cooper City, FL
Robert Davis is a recent marketing graduate from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, FL. His day job consists of managing a social media consultancy for small to medium sized businesses, and at night one can find him at the local maker and hacker spaces around Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Robert is a Code for America intern alumni (’12) and an avid supporter of creating civic tools with open data for the public good. Along with fellow Floridian Cristina Solana, the two created the Florida Bill Tracker, forked from the MinnPost and redeployed to easily track controversial Florida legislation. Robert is also an avid traveler and surfer, and hopes to inspire others to change their world regardless of age or expertise.
Alderman Joe Moore, City of Chicago, 49th Ward Chicago, IL
Known as a pioneer for political reform, governmental transparency and democratic governance, Joe Moore represents Chicago’s 49th Ward, one of the nation’s most economically and racially diverse communities. Moore became the first elected official to bring “participatory budgeting” to the United States. Each year, Moore turns over $1 million of his discretionary capital budget to a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making in which his constituents decide through direct vote how to allocate his budget. Moore’s participatory budgeting model has since been adopted by four of his Chicago City Council colleagues, as well as city council members in New York City, San Francisco, and Vallejo, California.
Anita Brown-Graham, Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, Raleigh, NC
Anita Brown-Graham is Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University, a think-and-do tank focused on tackling big issues that affect North Carolina’s future growth and prosperity. From energy, to fiscal modernization, to improving our systems of higher education, IEI takes the lead in convening state leaders in business, higher education and government to address these issues in a comprehensive, long-term way to prepare the state for future challenges and opportunities. In her role at IEI, Anita led the development of the Emerging Issues Commons, a first of its kind civic engagement tool – both a physical space and an online hub that stands to transform how citizens across the state connect with each other, access information, and take action in the decades to come. Prior to her leadership at IEI, Anita worked as faculty of the School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill for 13 years, training communities in strategic planning to revitalize their distressed rural communities. Her work inspired both rural and urban communities to work together for a better future for the state. Anita is a William C. Friday Fellow, American Marshall Fellow, and Eisenhower Fellow.
Deborah Parker, Tulalip Tribes Vice Chair Tulalip, WA
Deborah Parker Tsi-Cy-Altsa (Tulalip/Yaqui) was elected to the Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors in 2012. As Vice-Chairwoman, Deborah brings to Tulalip leadership nearly two decades of experience as a policy analyst, program developer, communications specialist, and committed cultural advocate and volunteer in the tribal and surrounding communities. Serving as a Legislative Policy Analyst in the Office of Governmental Affairs for the Tulalip Tribes from 2005-2012, Deborah engaged in the legislative process on behalf of the Tulalip Tribes by providing quality analysis of issues most pertinent to the exercise of sovereignty and tribal governance, with particular emphasis in the areas of education, finance, taxation, and healthcare. Before joining legislative affairs Deborah developed two unique outreach and education programs for the Tulalip Tribes. Young Mothers was a culturally relevant program for teen mothers, and the Tribal Tobacco Program sought to inspire responsible tobacco use among tribal members, while acknowledging tobacco’s sacred place in Indigenous cultures. Prior to her work for the Tulalip Tribes Deborah served as Director of the Residential Healing School of the Tseil-Waututh Nation in Canada, and in the Treaty Taskforce Office of the Lummi Nation, where she was mentored by American Indian leaders such as Joe Delacruz, Billy Frank, Henry Cagey and Jewell James. As a passionate advocate for improved education for tribal members, and a belief in the inherent right of all Native Americans to expect and receive a quality education, one that is free from racial or cultural bias, Deborah is focused on educational reform, which includes developing curriculum that is a true reflection of an Indigenous ethics and knowledge system. Deborah remains committed to education by volunteering her time in the local schools where her children are enrolled. Deborah graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Ethnic Studies and Sociology where she distinguished herself as a scholar and a young Indigenous leader. Deborah lives in Tulalip with her husband Myron Dewey (Paiute/Shoshone) and their five children.
Garcetti, at 42, is the youngest LA mayor in half a century and will be the city’s first Jewish mayor. LA’s new mayor is also a former Rhodes scholar, a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild, Naval Reservist and supporter of modernizing technology in city government.
Garcetti’s history on that last count had some observers wondering whether Los Angeles’ next mayor would ‘go geek’. He told “Neon Tommy,” a digital publication from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg program, that “he would make data a priority by creating a new position for it and appointing a ‘true’ chief technology officer.”
As a city councilman, Garcetti called for LA city data to be opened up to its people and authored a motion that will go before the council this spring.
“I look forward this fall to seeing the city opening the doors to data sharing, citizen participation, hackathons, and other ways we can build a truly 21st-century government,” said Garcetti at a campaign event prior to his election, according to Neon Tommy.
How fluent is LA’s new mayor on the language of technology and digital governance?
You can judge for yourself in the video embedded below, filmed during July 2012 at the Silicon Beach Fest.
Under this new mayor, will the second-most populous city in the United States take substantive steps to improve civic services and accountability?
While there’s reason to be hopeful, any new initiatives will have to be balanced against the city’s growing budget deficit and calibrated to a highly mobile, multi-lingual population.
As Paresh Dave explored in his feature, other cities are experimenting with open data, mobile applications and citizen engagement to varied effect.
Garcetti’s administration would benefit from taking pages from the technology playbooks of other cities, in particular Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York and Portland. Angelenos will need him to learn (quickly) from the mistakes of other cities and expand upon their success.
Given the considerable economic and cultural diversity of the City of Angels, his administration will need to support fundamental democratic principles in any new initiatives, from a participation divide to plain language in multiple languages to disparities in broadband Internet. LA will need a better digital divide strategy, perhaps centered upon libraries, schools and community centers, to ensure that more equitable civic participation in open government efforts around policies, regulations or proposed council orders.
His campaign promises on technology reflect some of those priorities and an appreciation of the challenges. Implementation will, as always, be another matter.