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September 16, 2013

Collaborating with local government is one of the defining criteria of a Brigade. To build the most impactful solutions, both government and citizens must have a seat at the table.

But collaboration isn’t always easy. It takes commitment from both parties, time, and a willingness to walk the proverbial mile in one another’s shoes.

To help citizens get started in their community, we’ve put together the guide How To: Collaborate with Government.

by Hannah Young

ollaborating with local government is one of the defining criteria of a Brigade. To build the most impactful solutions, both government and citizens must have a seat at the table.

But collaboration isn’t always easy. It takes commitment from both parties, time, and a willingness to walk the proverbial mile in one another’s shoes.

September 16, 2013

The power to govern is often asserted, but it may or may not be based on authentic social consent.  This is an important issue because open networks are changing the nature of legitimate authority and the consent of the governed.  User communities are increasingly asserting their own authority, assigning identities to people, and allocating rights and privileges in the manner of any conventional institution.  Anonymous, Five Star Movement, the Pirate Party, Arab Spring, Lulzsec and Occupy are notable examples of such grassroots, network-enabled movements – and there are plenty of other instances in which distributed networks of users work together toward shared goals in loosely coordinated, bottom-up ways.  Such “smart mobs” – elementary forms of GFNs – are showing that they have the legitimacy and legal authority and the economic and cultural power to act as “institutions” with a modicum of governance power.

By David Bollier

I recently wrote the following essay with John H. Clippinger as part of the ongoing work ofID3, the Institute for Data-Driven Design, which is building a new open source platform for secure digital identity, user-centric control over personal information and data-driven institutions.

September 13, 2013

A new simulation tool designed to help local Bolivian communities reduce deforestation and tackle poverty has been developed by academics and conservationists around the world.

The tool, called SimPachamama (‘Mother Earth simulation’ in local language), is based on extensive scientific research of a real-life Amazonian community and simulates the actions and behaviour of villagers near the agricultural frontier in Bolivia.

A new simulation tool designed to help local Bolivian communities reduce deforestation and tackle poverty has been developed by academics and conservationists around the world.

The tool, called SimPachamama (‘Mother Earth simulation’ in local language), is based on extensive scientific research of a real-life Amazonian community and simulates the actions and behaviour of villagers near the agricultural frontier in Bolivia.

September 13, 2013

We've been informally crowdsourcing the most common 50-ish reasons not to release data that have been heard by those working both inside and out of government on the federal, state, and local level in the US. The reasons, as you can see below, run the gamut from staff training concerns to the ever-looming specters of privacy and security to the persistently optimistic ("It's already public [in a filing cabinet downstairs]."). This list is not comprehensive, but it's an informative start and a useful tool for dissecting the rationale behind and resistance to releasing data -- as well as some of the information gapsthat exist around the benefits of opening data. It also gears us up for the next step in our experiment: responding to these challenges.

Earlier this year, Sunlight was issued a challenge: Collect and refute the most common reasons not to release data.*

September 13, 2013

We see extraordinary promise in marrying the emerging civic technology and data movement with leading systems-change initiatives to bring about faster, deeper and broader results. Smart cities technologies, open data, predictive analytics and apps for civic engagement have proliferated in recent years, giving cities new and powerful tools to solve tough problems. Collectively, we are now seeing an opportunity to take these precedents to the next level beyond isolated solutions to discrete problems towards fully integrated components of system change efforts.

By connecting these tools, and the innovators who are producing them, to existing system change efforts, we can move from quick fixes to large-scale, needle-moving results.  

by Ben Hecht and Abhi Nemani

EDITOR: Excellent article.  If you had any questions about how technology can truly and meaningfully move the needle on wicked community issues, read on. 

September 12, 2013

This set of seventeen guidelines is intended to be both an inspiration to those wishing to make their procurement process more transparent, as well as a reflection on what we think is required to allow for distributed oversight, fair competition, and an accessible market in government procurement. With the government workforce shrinking and overall government contracting growing, transparency in procurement is more important than ever.

September 12, 2013

The state of Texas is anticipating the passage of House Bill 889, which requires that certain governmental bodies make audio and video recordings of open meetings available on the Internet. With over 1,300 government bodies that meet the criteria, this move will single-handedly make Texas the most public-access friendly state in the nation.

EDITOR: This is a pretty interesting development.  Is anyone seeing a legislative movement of this type elsewhere?  If so, let me know at della@engagingcities.com 

from granicus.com By Maryann Mooney 

September 3, 2013

Conversations on citizen engagement tend to discuss the proper role of government and explore the proper engagement levels of citizens. Yet, before any of those important conversations can take place, agencies need to focus on setting the proper citizen engagement foundation, which will allow organizations to build new and innovative citizen engagement strategies.

From govloop.com.  By Pat Fiorenza

Conversations on citizen engagement tend to discuss the proper role of government and explore the proper engagement levels of citizens. Yet, before any of those important conversations can take place, agencies need to focus on setting the proper citizen engagement foundation, which will allow organizations to build new and innovative citizen engagement strategies.

September 3, 2013

There is no question that social media helps government to govern.  Where there is some cause for concern however, is that when using social media applications government decisions are often influenced by or communicated via external web-based platforms or operated by third parties, such as Facebook or Twitter.

From Delib.net.  By Saskia Tigchelaar

NOTE: the recommendations in this post were specificially directed to UK and Commonwealth goverments.  Requirements in your country or local government may vary.  Always seek appropriate legal advice.  This article isn't legal advice.  

August 29, 2013

[C]onverging technologies have changed even basic assumptions about public services -- so much so that it's getting hard to even define the specific purpose of the most advanced of these customer-relationship-management systems. Try this exercise: Is 311 ...

-- A centralized customer service call center?

-- A multimedia hub for residents to communicate in any way they wish -- via a smartphone app, texting, a phone call or a dedicated website -- with their governments?

-- A platform for community engagement that connects residents with others of common interest, "listens" to social media comments and no longer is limited to waiting for a complaining resident to ask government for help?

August 27, 2013

Youth Map Milwaukee is on a mission to make the dreaded “I’m bored” complaint parents get from their kids obsolete.

The project from the Center for Youth Engagement, 4850 W. Fond Du Lac Ave., aims to map 325 resources in Milwaukee that will direct bored kids to quality activities and agencies near their homes through a website and app, which will be complete by early 2014.

“It should be just as easy for a young person to find something that is positive to do as it is to find some things that are negative,” said Reggie Moore, the project’s leader and Center for Youth Engagement’s founder and senior strategist.

The mapping initiative, launched July 31, comes at a time when Milwaukee has seen a string of shootings.

By Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service  

Youth Map Milwaukee is on a mission to make the dreaded “I’m bored” complaint parents get from their kids obsolete.

July 29, 2013

In the Spanish town of Jun, near Granada, Mayor José Antonio Rodríguez (@JoseantonioJun) makes local government more accessible and more accountable to its citizens through the use of Twitter.  All public offices and employees are required to have an official Twitter account, which is prominently displayed on everything from police cars and uniforms to garbage trucks

ED: What do you think about this?  The idea of a public official relying on one outlet might raise some questions of equitable access, and how do you structure Twitter use in a context like this to enable constructive dialogue, not just complaint-reporting?  Share your thoughts below!
From blog.twitter.com.  By Marisa Williams
July 22, 2013

As a result, innovation offices tend not to focus on internal, less well-publicized solutions that can create greater efficiencies. Department heads should strive for greater efficiency, but innovation offices can do more to assist ongoing efforts at the departmental level. While they may be useful, apps like Adopt-a-Hydrant are an easier sell than transitioning to a new email system or creating a more efficient method for payroll at City Hall. 

From slate.com.   By 
July 18, 2013

[D]irectly comparing MOOCs to traditional classrooms may prevent us from realizing the true potential of global online education. Perhaps it's time we stop trying to fit MOOCs into old educational molds and start considering how we can harness their powers in new and exciting ways.

We can use MOOCs as platforms for real-world problem solving. 

From blogs.hbr.org. By Zafrin Nurmohamed, Nabeel Gillani, and Michael Lenox 
July 15, 2013

For the last six years Living Cities has been working to help find a critical mass of leaders from the public, private, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors who together want to build these new models of collaborative change.  The problems are too big and complex for any one sector to actually be able to solve on their own.

July 9, 2013

“The phenomenon of walking quorums has taken on a new dimension in the digital age,” Mike McCabe, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign told Wisconsin Reporter this week. He calls such secret get-togethers, inadvertent or sinister, “digital caucuses.”

And open government experts say walking quorums are much easier to conduct electronically, given the ubiquitous nature of the Internet and its social networks. They say state open meeting laws haven’t kept pace with the evolving technology.

From Wisconsin Reporter, watchdog.org.  By M.D. Kittle

Fond du Lac’s seven City Council members have the city’s business at the tips of their fingers.

Each council member now comes equipped with a city iPad, on which all local government communications are to be sent.

July 5, 2013

Dubbed a Liberty Hackathon, the theme of the gathering was “promoting liberty with the use of technology.” That’s certainly unusual for this kind of competition, but the real source of contention was the event’s sponsor, Charles Koch, the CEO of energy company Koch Industries. Among other things, Koch is well known for giving to right-of-center causes.

From pandodaily.com.  By Eric M. Jackson

Lincoln Labs held its first hackathon this past weekend in San Francisco. While most hackathons provoke little notice except by participants, this event was not only noted in the press, but it also generated some controversy.

July 3, 2013

A new publicly available online tool compares the Corporate Social Responsibility of prominent Australian companies and ranks them head-to-head across a range of social, environmental and governance indicators.

Excerpted from http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au.  

A new publicly available online tool compares the Corporate Social Responsibility of prominent Australian companies and ranks them head-to-head across a range of social, environmental and governance indicators.

Policy network Catalyst, this month released the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Dashboard, which draws on data from an analysis of the CSR reports of 32 companies.

July 2, 2013

In fact, based on the federal government's FY12 budget actual expenditures of $3.538 trillion, federal IT managers could potentially recognize nearly $500 billion in savings across the federal government via big data initiatives, according to a new study by MeriTalk.

From http://www.cio.com.au.  By 

Despite the challenges of the budget sequestration that went into effect on March 1, federal agencies are pressing forward with big data initiatives, hoping to squeeze big savings out of more efficient use of their data.

July 1, 2013

[H]ere are some easy, “almost-no-budget-needed” steps you can take to ensure your users will be happier (or at least less frustrated):

From http://blog.howto.gov.  by 

If you want a better user experience on your government website, there’s a simple secret: early planning.  Good designers know that it’s much more difficult to make changes to something before it’s built than after. This is true for designing just about anything, whether it’s a website, car, or new kitchen.  

July 1, 2013

How a website is built or designed may seem mundane to many people, but when the site in question is focused upon such an important function, what it looks like and how it works matter. Last week, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) relaunched Healthcare.gov with a new appearance and modern technology that is unusual in federal-government websites.

Excerpted from http://www.theatlantic.com.  By Alexander Howard.
June 26, 2013

Lukensmeyer and her team have tackled some of the wickedest problems in public policy, from how to rebuild Ground Zero after 9/11 to reforming health care in California to rebuilding New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

In New Orleans, for example, more than 4,000 people participated in two "community congresses" that Andy Kopplin, who was then the executive director of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, credits in Lukensmeyer's book with turning the rebuilding efforts around. "There's no doubt that the Unified New Orleans Plan developed by citizens was the foundation for the city's final recovery plan and that it has had a significant, lasting impact on governance ever since," says Kopplin, who now is the city's chief administrative officer and a deputy mayor.

From governing.com. By Mark Funkhauser

May 21, 2013

You have two challenges in front of you.  The first is that you're leading the charge to something profoundly new, and that's going to scare people who are entrenched in something old.  The second is that what you are doing is so local, so fundamentally grassroots-based, so under the radar, that your work is probably going to go unrecognized outside of a small devoted circle for a while.

umair haque (@umairh) tweeted at 7:05 PM on Sun, May 19, 2013:

May 16, 2013

From mobilizestrategies.com