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CityCamp Raleigh – Government Panel

I’m here at CityCamp Raleigh, live blogging today and tomorrow. Below are some notes from the first panel on “Government and Technology Industry Experts.”


  • Kevin Curry, CityCamp Co-Founder


  • Jerry Fralick, CIO for the State of North Carolina
  • Adriel Hampton, Gov 2.0 Radio
  • Gail Roper – City of Raleigh, Chief Information and Community Relations Officer
  • Mark Turner – Chair, East Citizens Advisory Council

1 – What are your top priorities for open government?

Fralick: Goals for State of North Carolina

a – reducing IT expenditures

b – consolidation

For more information: http://scio.nc.gov

– $440 million in software and licenses – need a better way to negotiate contracts

– multiple data centers – Dept of Revenue, IRS, HHS – all scattered

– looking at privatization of mainframe, but lots of risk due to 700 customers that access the system – “need to unbundle it first and see what can be ported over.”

Roper: Goals for City of Raleigh

a – Trying to find better ways to communicate with the public

b – Consolidation and reduction

c – How can we share across multi-jurisdictional infrastructure

– New traffic light network

– Wifi downtown – “most wired city in the country” according to Wired Magazine

Hampton: City of San Francisco

– Confluence of leaders and companies

– From DataSF showcase to integrating Twitter with 311

– Lost CIO and Mayor, so had to redouble efforts from grassroots effort – Third Thursdays SF emerged

2 – Are there any open source software policies on the city of state level?

Roper: “Yes, we have a resolution going to city council next week…but a major stumbling block is education – educating the council on what we’re doing and the return on investment model. We continue to move forward, answer questions and educate at all levels of the organization.”

Fralick: “I say to agencies: if it fits your business model and helps you accomplish your goals, then move forward…but also if there are other agencies doing something well, then we seek to create centers of excellence and avoid duplication by asking other agencies to use same system

3 – Do you have the equivalent of a creative commons license for public data?

Fralick: “Yes, I’d like to move in that direction…if it’s public information, then it should be made available…I’d love to have citizens be able to make their own mobile apps…The other thing that we have is so many laws that prohibit us from going in that direction (of the cloud), that we’re looking at some of those legislative issues that need to be changed to make sense with technology and era that we’re in versus when those laws were passed.”

4 – From a citizen’s perspective, what would you (Mark) like to see the city do?

Turner: “I know that Gail and the city are seeking to give access to people who otherwise would not have access…including a program called One Economy that offers free Wi-Fi throughout downtown, creates a fiber network to serve government and schools and extends wireless access to thousands of low-income families.

5 – How do you handle a situation where volunteers want to help, but aren’t coordinated with city priorities? How do city leaders decide what’s important?

Roper: “It’s about the relationships in the community” and building them so that you’re on the same page. An example is how the city worked with the United Way to mobilize their energy and numbers. One of our big priorities is to “make certain that at all levels folks are exposed to technology…need to educate our youth not just about how to text or how to use mobile, but learning the benefits of blogging…or a career in technology and how it can change lives. Not just about open data, but the digital divide where people don’t know it’s there and don’t know how to make decisions based on that data….need to do our due diligence to make sure all citizens have access to information.”

Hampton: “Need people who are trained and can be liaisons with the city…trusted partners…in San Francisco, there are agencies that have important data repositories and they don’t even know it…”

6 – What doesn’t work?

Hampton: Don’t do the traditional procurement process. Release your data and let developers create apps with it. There might be several at once, but the best will “live or die.” Imagine the city creating those apps – especially one that didn’t work – and it would have been a waste of money. Let the private sector absorb the risk. Also, to speak toward the “Centers of Excellence,” don’t get limited to US only. There are so many examples happening all over the world – some in existence for quite some time and have been honed – build on their hard work and success.

7 – Are you using social media, video, open datasets, etc.?

Fralick: Yes, our governor uses YouTube to release information to the public – especially if the press is not available and she needs to get something out quickly.We did a survey of the public to gain feedback on our web portal and got 6,000 responses.

Roper: We’re working on our web portal. It’s not there yet, but we’re getting there. No open data catalog yet.

8 – Got tips for “turning around” a city in terms of adopting innovations?

Roper: First, it’s all about listening, then develop advocates – both from the city and from the community – and then seek to educate without talking down to people.

9 – If you open up everything, how do you maintain efficiency, avoid overwhelming staff who are obligated to respond?

Hampton: Turn off email and use an ideation platform where people are forced to comment in a way that is meaningful – also allows you to scale implementation.

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