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Success stories toward a "smarter, better and more open government"
May 3, 2010 at 9:33 pm #99632
I have a simple question which should help us with our topic. What success stories would people point to that have made for "smarter, better and more open government"?
I've seen some ideas published on the Open government directive Playbook and some stories fall into categories of collaboration, participation or transparency, but these may not be the only way to think about them. Any thoughts appreciated.
May 4, 2010 at 3:09 am #99668
One great example of "smarter, better (when) open" was the public-private open collaboration during the post Haiti-earthquake emergency response. Use of an open platform allowed an unprecedented level of visibility into and coordination of emergency response activities. Information was openly provided by ad hoc contributors and became the de-facto trusted source for all emergency responders.
The Google map was the leading (free) private sector product at the time of the earthquake. The OpenSourceMap image (dated a week after the Haiti earthquake) supported and displayed other layers of information (e.g. fires, water shortages, emergency shelters & hospitals, makeshift morgues, and unexcavated buildings among others) that were only available via the open sourced Map.
May 4, 2010 at 1:56 pm #99666
The post Haiti-earthquake emergency response is a good example. I recall that there was a person at Trtansparency Camp who was involved in this and had some good stories of success involving information integration of which Google maps is part. I know that he had more details on the people finding applications.
I wonder if these are documented in an article anywhere.
Perhaps someone at Crisis Commons knows. There are some links on their site that doucment some technical things:
■Documenting the application programming interface for WeHaveWeNeed.org
■Continuing to clean up maps for Haiti with advanced crisis mapping at OpenStreetMap.org and doing Creole transaltion. The GPS map of Haiti has been one of the most-used products from the Crisis Camps, adopted by the UN, UNICEF and many other non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
■A Haiti Hospital Capacity Finder, Kapab Django, focused on provuding medical situation awareness. Python developers are needed here
Someone could cross post this discuss there, although right now people are quite busy with the Gulf "Spill/Leak/Gusher". That might be an unfolding story which will also provide some success for participation and collaboration.
May 5, 2010 at 3:20 am #99664
May 5, 2010 at 6:17 pm #99662
Thanks for pointing out another excellent example of "crowdsourcing" emergency response. There are numerous other example of crowdsourcing for innovation, assessment, risk identification and more. I hope to post some other examples in the very near future.
I understand that the Dept of Education has been able to use Education-related Performance Benchmarking (publishing results data that enables comparisons across States and/or other jurisdictions) to drive performance improvements. This form of Data Transparency and Visibility has positively impacted the mission in ways that regulating improvements never attained. Are you able to confirm this understanding (or even better point to published evidence) of this positive example of Open Data?
July 14, 2010 at 10:37 pm #99660
I was a bit early in getting this out, but here is the announcement Department of Education Sets New Bar for Transparency with Data.ed.gov (06/18/2010) –
Data.ed.gov is a one-stop shop for education data. It provides tools to visualize data through mapping, graphing, charting and data exporting. Education also plans to use the site to make the grant-making process more transparent.
July 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm #99658
The term "Visual Deliberation" has been used to describe the large-scale, web-enabled discussion and interaction which a distributed group is able to have around an issue.
In response to the Budget crisis, several California cities have asked their citizens to 1) Brainstorm solutions and 2) Prioritize them. Mirroring the work of the community back to the community has had several interesting results (See video link for particular case study)
Among the results have been:
1) much greater participation by the community in the problem solving process than traditionally took place in townhall meetings -- including less dominance of the conversation by "outliers"
2) Greater diversity and creativity of ideas and suggestions for action
3) Greater clarity about the preferences and priorities of community members
4) Identification of non-traditional risks and opportunities
July 16, 2010 at 9:29 pm #99656
People have now posted a few success stories posted about crowdsourcing (outsourcing tasks, traditionally performed by experts or employees, to harness the power of a a large group of people such as community or crowd.) info for things like crises and fire spotting.
Another one that comes to mind is what the news group Propublica did to monitor the spending of stimulus money. They wanted exto amine if the projects assigned to different contractors were being completed properly. So how to analyze the collected data to identify any systematic problems or outright corruption?
Normally collecting such data would be impossible for a journalist, or even for a team of journalists and expensive for hiring staff. However, using crowdsourcing it was easy for local residents to monitor the effects of stimulus money spending. Residents could check if a road was properly on schedule or bridge fixed etc. ShovelWatch was a project that Propublica used see http://blogs.wnyc.org/stimcity/.
Interestingly the government's recovery.gov Web site also urged online visitors to e-mail tips about suspected fraud. As Earl Devaney, the special inspector general who oversees stimulus spending explained "It's the surest way to prevent, say, a convicted contractor from reincorporating a new company under his wife's name and applying for stimulus money.. Only local folks can conIt's nect those kinds of dots." http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_19/b4177029171961.htm
July 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm #99654
The sucess and risks of techniques like crowdsourcing its use to overcome possible misinformation was discussed recently by Sara Estes Cohen as part of the oilspill emergency.
Leveraging Citizen Engagement for Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery
Now imagine if emergency organizations, whether government or non-government, could leverage the data collected via crowd sourcing from both citizens and public systems, for use in situational awareness, preparedness, response, and recovery. Furthermore, imagine if by partnering with public systems, government agencies could identify and correct misinformation faster than before while using fewer resources (see Real Live Misinformation In Action – Oil Spill Rumors). The implications of doing so are so great that I believe it is now necessary to develop a paradigm from which to model future public-private partnerships in emergency management.
Again, in developing such a paradigm,one must address 6 associated challenges:
1. Veracity of content;
2. Resources required to manage data collection and analysis;
3. Resources required to authenticate collected data and resulting analysis;
4. Security of information leveraged for official response efforts;
5. Integration of awareness, alert, and notification communication channels;
6. A lack of policy addressing the implementation, management, and maintenance of all of the above.
July 22, 2010 at 4:17 am #99652
While I accept that confidence in crowdsourced data is always a factor, I disagree that "engineering an approach" outlined above which addresses-- "Lack of policy," "Authentication and analysis" "managing data collection" "Security"...etc is the Web 2.0 way to go (meaning flexible, rapid and responsive).
The approach mentioned sounds like classic centralized "Command and Control". The web 2.0 way for assessing credibility (even of other crowd sourced information) is using preferential ranking (e.g. the LIKE button to vote, or tracking how often something is referenced/repeated). Not perfect, but does not require a legion of Policy writers, Authenticators, managers, etc.... to get in the way of quickly changing information.
July 22, 2010 at 1:49 pm #99650
Perhaps the way to look at Open Gov (OG) as a mix of old and new.
I agree that OG affords a different approach and breaks the mindset of imposed by the older style of command and control. This was enabled by large central databases and we still have them. Sara said that we need resources required to manage data collection and analysis". True these are big pools of data but the source of some resources may be distributed now and not centralized. An example might be:
" Resources required to authenticate collected data and resulting analysis"
This is a mixed image of operation.
The point is that centralized assets and their mindsets along with their centralized approaches distracted government (at least in part) from some of its real policy aspirations. It was a hammer that made everyting nails. Now we can captialize on newer technology and thinking.
Together techology and open thinking enables things like more localised, autonomous, distributed and consumer-responsive services built around common technical standards.
July 23, 2010 at 12:59 pm #99648
That is a great example of using crowds for Performance Oversight. I have heard of it being used with Local food quality testing by students, as well as, school performance comparisons to engage parents.
July 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm #99646
There is a forum on "3 top priorities to advance Open Government" that I started that has some discussion that might be of interest to this group.
Discussion includes the approach of :
1 Clarifying and definitional activities to understand what an agency is doing (what do me mean by "open" and how does it change things.
2 the practical benefits of targeted pilots and
3 Getting the message out by featured communations and training
August 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm #99644
Something of an inverse discussion was started on the topic of "How to Fail at Organizational Change: A Case Study" at https://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/how-to-fail-at-organizational?xg_source=activity
Lessons Learned include:
1) A laundry list of projects is not a vision
2) Don’t assume support just because you have a title
3) Advocating change implies insult
4) Not addressing the real issues
The one initiative that succeeded was aproject to share the database with the rest of the board was a resounding success. " For once, I listened to my board members and their ideas of change instead of imposing my ideas on them."
August 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm #99642
Another state level example: Since the mid-90s, Utah has had a series of enlightened governors and legislators who shared a vision for vast on-line services, a competitive environment among infrastructure providers, and better efficiency using statewide resources.
Utah.gov now provides over 870 services on-line, including things such as renewing your driver’s license, paying your state taxes, applying for a state job, and purchasing a fishing license. Journalists can also easily find on-line all state expenditures. The website also utilizes efficient communication tools such as instant and text messaging, online chats, and social media (such as Twitter) to facilitate state-to-citizen and citizen-to-state communications. An optional “feedback channel” that accompanies on-line services has provided a way for citizens to give feedback after a transaction is complete. The Lt. Governor commented, “government transparency has become a reality in Utah … This site [Utah.gov] allows everyone to see where and how their tax dollars are being spent. This commitment to openness and transparency will strengthen our state management.”
Leaders in Utah attribute much of Utah.gov’s success to cooperation among various members throughout the different branches of state government. Overall, this cooperation has created an open willing to try progressive media tools to allow for better citizen communications and information sharing. As a result, when one state agency sees the success and efficiency of using better technologies, one agency then tries and replicates the success in another agency. Utah legislators have sought to leverage Web 2.0 technologies “and web-based services to meet the expectations of its citizens.”
The Utah.Gov case study was featured in Open Government Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice By Daniel Lathrop, Laurel Ruma by O'Reilly Media
August 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm #99640
Thank you for the pointer to this success story at the State level.
With your info I was able to find some slides on this Utah's experience in "Transforming Government at
The success factors they listed were:
CEO involvement in technology
Innovation, not automation
Integration, not Balkanization
Valuing results over excuses
Thinking outside the box
This fits some of the other thinking down by this group (e.g. going beyond technology and thinking outside boundarues, not giving up the vkistion ).
This should help with our development of a Guide for such transformations.
August 3, 2010 at 2:07 pm #99638
Great find. Will review it. Thanks.
September 9, 2010 at 7:13 am #99636
A couple of examples from Vancouver's of Open Gov progress in the last few months. Engaging presentation style.
January 17, 2011 at 5:41 pm #99634
Here's how the San Francisco Unified School District utilized webinar services with absolutly no cost to them. They contributed to the District's sustainability initiative while allowing everyone involved to work far more efficiently and effectively. The businesses interested i this opportunity paid a nominal fee to have access to the pre-bid meeting via webinar and the ability to submit proposals electronically.
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