Citizens of Charlotte, N.C., can now get notices when rezoning plans are submitted for review, thanks to an upgrade to Citygram, a web app that notifies subscribers of non-emergency events. The added functionality is part of Charlotte’s ongoing efforts to increase government transparency and better connect citizens to city hall. According to the city, more than 200 subscribers have already received 65,000 notifications.
Originally developed in 2014 by a Code for America team working in Charlotte, Citygram leverages operational data from the city's Open Data Portal, a one-stop shop for information on transportation, community safety, neighborhoods and housing. Residents subscribe to topics on Citygram, and information is sent directly to them via text or email.
The service has expanded beyond Charlotte, and covers Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Lexington, Ky., as well.
As a city grows its library of datasets, Citygram can be updated to include them. According to Charlotte officials, possible additions may include 311 calls for service and street closures.
The Citygram project is now managed by the Code for Charlotte, a brigade of Code for America. The brigade was established following last year’s Code for America’s 2014 Fellowship program, in which technologists from the organization worked with the city to strengthen open government-citizen relationships.
Posted on Jun 11, 2015 at 10:37 AM0 comments
Open government advocates should put on their thinking caps as the United States plans its third National Action Plan (NAP), writes Corinna Zarek of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
The first U.S. NAP was published in 2011. The second, published in 2013, is still being implemented through the end of 2015. The third NAP will expand on existing initiatives and address new ways to improve government transparency, accountability and response in the next two years.
Zarek calls on the public to suggest “expanded commitments” related to topic addressed by first two plans, such as public participation, open data, records management or natural resource revenue transparency. New ideas are also encouraged.
Suggestions for the plan can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants can also contribute ideas to a publicly available Hackpad that GSA is helping coordinate, Zarek said.
Posted on Jun 08, 2015 at 1:58 PM0 comments
Following the successful exploration of the Bering Sea by unmanned surface vehicle recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to redeploy the saildrones, outfitting them with a suite of meteorological and oceanographic sensors to explore fish populations. According to a recent award notice, the saildrones will be equipped with echosounders for use in applied fisheries management in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska.
NOAA wishes to collect data on conductivity, sea temperature, wind, air temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll fluorescence, according to the performance work statement . The data will be tagged with a GPS time and position, and fed back to NOAA via Iridium satellite communication links. The system architecture will segregate vehicle housekeeping data from scientific data and format the data for exfiltration and post-processing, NOAA said.
The saildrones will be deployed for about 3 months.
Posted on Jun 04, 2015 at 12:22 PM0 comments
This week Code for America launched the Police Open Data Census -- a collection of the police interaction datasets available online. It includes use of force incidents, officer-involved shootings and complaints against police as well as response times and citations. It also indicates whether the data is online, machine readable, up to date and available in bulk, and notes whether context is provided and whether incident-level data is available as opposed to aggregated numbers.
The census was created when Code for America discovered there was no way for cities to see what other jurisdictions were doing in terms of opening information around police interactions with citizens.
So far, the census includes information from just 27 jursidictions, including counties like Anne Arundel County, Md., as well as major cities like Dallas and San Francisco. For many cities, not much open data is available, though Code for America hopes to encourage cities and counties to contribute.
Municipalities with open data on police interactions are asked to contact Code for America to add their data.
Posted on Jun 02, 2015 at 1:00 PM0 comments
The Census Bureau’s City new software development kit (City SDK) gives civic hackers a toolkit building applications that take advantage of Census datasets.
The SDK, released on June 1, takes the most common functionalities developers were building on top of the Census application programming interface and added them directly into the SDK, the Bureau said on the City SDK GitHub page.
The City SDK includes code that converts latitude/longitude or ZIP codes to FIPS state and county codes; the ability to request GeoJSON (an open source geographic shapefile/boundary format) right along with data from Dataweb (for mapping); and a modular architecture that makes it easy to mashup Census data with third-party data.
The bureau is calling on civic hackers to use the toolkit in its City SDK Open Data Solutions Challenge, which is asking developers to apply multiple open datasets to address city sustainability issues by leveraging economic, environmental, social, cultural and housing data.
Running from June 6 to July 31, 2015, the challenge seeks innovative applications and tools that use the City SDK, at least one city dataset and at least two distinct federal datasets.
The City SDK also makes its appearance just in time for the National Day of Civic Hacking, which will take place in cities across the country on June 6.
The City SDK is an open-source project; more information is available on GitHub.
Posted on Jun 01, 2015 at 9:33 AM0 comments