While governments of all sizes are jumping on the open government bandwagon – releasing mountains of data in an attempt to improve public services and encourage new businesses -- they are finding that posting the data is the easy part. Getting people to find meaningful, profitable ways to repurpose the data is a tougher nut to crack. A recent conference sponsored by Future Tense (and discussed by the New America Foundation) highlighted a few successful strategies.
In Boston, the office of New Urban Mechanics used the city's data to improve credit scores in communities. A Brazilian community was identified as having low scores, but it turns out the people were financially literate, but tended not to use banks – thereby causing the low credit scores. A partnership with researchers at MIT delivered apps to help people record their transactions in a way that would boost their credit scores.
San Francisco regularly organizes hackathons that, while not always producing useful apps, tend to engage developers, getting them to imagine new ways that government data can solve a community's problems or create a business.
Context and community engagement (not the data) need to be the drivers of the open government movement.
Posted on Sep 10, 2012 at 9:39 AM0 comments
Love the holidays but hate the countless hours spent shopping? Join the club. Forget the anxiety in scurrying around looking for the perfect present; nothing elevates my heart rate like trying to maneuver through jam-packed malls and frenzied crowds. The solution? Online shopping.
However, while it's not as time-consuming as shopping at traditional bricks-and-mortar stores, using your computer as a shopping cart still takes a chunk out of your day. And let’s face it: Most of us spend the majority of our time at work, so a fair amount of holiday shopping happens during business hours. A September 2011 poll by ISACA supports that assumption: With online shopping growing in popularity, nearly one-third of Americans say they will do some Christmas shopping online while at work.
The survey, which polled IT professionals from the private sector, also found that online shoppers will spend 32 hours on average purchasing gifts, with 18 of those spent on a work-supplied device or personally owned device used for work purposes.
Most federal agencies allow limited personal use of work computers, but the operating ethos is to keep waste to a minimum. For example, the Energy Department follows a directive that allows limited personal use of government information technology, as long as it means “de minimis additional expense to the government.” That suggests that it's ok to use your work computer to order from Amazon.com or browse Cooks.com (or similar sites), as long as you're doing it on your own time and not charging your purchases to the government.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday upon us, are you planning on doing any online shopping at work? Does your agency have a policy that allows employees to use personal computers for activities such as online shopping? Or do you do your retail therapy after work, the old-fashioned way, at the mall?
Posted on Nov 18, 2011 at 9:39 AM1 comments
Know of any great public-sector websites? We want to hear about them — sites that have efficient, effective and innovative ways of delivering information, interacting with people and serving the public. We’ll feature the best of them online and in our first issue of the new year.
The push for open government and public engagement has intensified the spotlight on the Web. This has no doubt affected the way federal agencies communicate with one another and interact with the public.
10 gov Web sites that get results
Great dot-gov Web sites 2009
Great dot-gov Web sites 2008
During the past two years, GCN has focused on highlighting 10 great government Web sites. The rise of social networking in 2009 prompted the smarter agencies to establish a presence on Twitter, Facebook and other sites. The previous year — GCN’s first list of 10 great government websites — reflected the realization that the Web can be the primary form of interaction with constituents.
For this year's list, we focused on 10 great Web applications and the innovative ideas and approaches that gave birth to them. Many of the applications attested to the push toward more open government and transparency.
Now as we look toward a new year, GCN is looking to highlight innovative public sector websites across federal, state and local governments. If you know of any site or would like to submit suggestions, feel free to put your suggestions in the comments box below.
Posted on Nov 19, 2010 at 9:39 AM2 comments