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Working in a democratic rather than a service context means that you have to write your digital content a little differently.  As a scrutiny team we have been thinking about how we can produce content on our website that councillors will want to share and engage the public with.  Here are the seven points we have come up with - some apply to all digital content, some have a democratic twist.

Every dataset has its quirks, whether it’s data that has been wrongly entered in the first place, automated processing that has introduced errors, irregularities that come from combining datasets into a consistent structure or simply missing information....But for the people who have collected and maintained such data — or more frequently their managers, who don’t work with the data directly — this realisation can be a bit of a shock. In our last ODI Board meeting, Sir Tim Berners-Lee suggested that the data curators need to go through was something like the five stages of grief described by the Kübler-Ross model. So here is an outline of what that looks like.

I can see the attraction of setting up a Facebook space – making use of a tool everyone already uses, it’s quick to do, no technical skills are needed and no forms to fill. But for internal business related communities of practice Facebook also has a number of important limitations and for most circumstances I wouldn’t recommend it for this purpose. Here’s why:

I’ve been wanting to post about this paper for a while. At the intersection of technology and citizen participation this is probably one of the best studies produced in 2013 and I’m surprised I haven’t heard a lot about it outside the scholarly circle.

new website in Philadelphia focused on the challenge of unused vacant land demonstrates how open data is supposed to work. It’s built using a variety ofdata sources made available by the City of Philadelphia, and it allows people to discover vacant land in their neighborhoods.

This isn’t the first web site to aggregate data on vacant land in Philadelphia, which underscores how pressing an issue it is for our city. One of the things I like most about the site is how it frames information about vacant land with an eye toward reuse. The site tells you the planing and zoning district a property is in, as well as the City Council district.

What is the role of citizen engagement in the ability of transparency policies and initiatives to hold governments accountable?

When you’ve got the right purpose, stakeholders and management processes in place, make sure you give stakeholders access to the most appropriate tools for the tasks in hand. This is how you can do it.

There is already a buzz in Boston about the “1 Million Dollar Question.” Mayor’s Youth Council representatives and allies from neighborhoods across the city have begun asking their peers how $1 million could be spent to make Boston an even better city for youth. “We are going to get a chance to identify items that are important to us, to have our voices heard, and to see projects that will benefit the city for a long time to come,” said Kayla Knight, a Roxbury Representative on the Mayor’s Youth Council.

What makes OSCity interesting is that it allows users to intuitively map various datasets in combination with each other in so called ‘map stories’. For instance, a map of empty office space can be combined with maps of urban growth and decline, the average renting price per square meter of office space, as well as map that displays the prices of houses for sale. The intersection of those maps shows you where empty office spaces are offered at or below half the price of regular houses and apartments. The result is thus not just an aesthetically pleasing state of affairs, but an action map. Policy makers, developers and citizens can use the insights produced by the map to find empty offices that are worthwhile to turn into houses.