Innovative Idea of the Week: CivicPlus and your weekend reads

Busy week here on the DorobekINSIDER:

We’ve also been following the Democratic National Convention all week. Last night was the President’s turn. You can hear the whole speech here.

Not much new was outlined in the speech for feds. But GovExec says the president did pledge to improve project management.

“Those of us who believe government can be a force for good should work harder than anyone to reform it, so that it’s leaner, more efficient, and more responsive to the American people.” Obama also called for “bold, persistent experimentation” on the part of government, in the tradition of Franklin Roosevelt. “Our challenges can be met.”

Obama’s specific proposals included recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers over the next 10 years and training 2 million workers for new jobs.

Innovative Idea of the Week: Whether you’re a city, village, township, county or province – expectations have changed and are changing. People demand engaged communications, government transparency, online transactions and the opportunity to hear and be heard – that is today’s reality. That’s where CivicPlus comes in. The group develops and provides engagement sites across the country. Michael Ashford is a community engagement evangelist for CivicPlus. He told Chris Dorobek how the site works.

“When you boil it down CivicPlus creates platforms that help municipalities and citizens interact with each other in a digital environment,” said Ashford, “the site rates government websites as, static, emerging, active, receptive, participatory and fully engaged.”

Fully Engaged Websites

  • Instead of pushing out information in a press release they fully engaged sites solicit feedback based on the release. So for example if a new plot of land is being developed for a community park, the site would ask for comments about what should actually be in the park.
  • Mobility plays a large role. Not everyone has a desktop computer but almost everyone has a mobile device of some sort. Need to have various touch points for citizens to interact.
  • Doesn’t have to be hard or costly, you can use technology that is already readily available. Plus the return on investment is high.

CivicPlus also features an interactive map where you can see how your state rates when it comes to government site engagement. Check it out.

Accountability: “Citizens have a hard time participating if they don’t see the fruits of their labor. So if you are going to open it up to the public to submit ideas you have to show them action. You have to prove that you are taking their suggestions seriously, or they won’t participate again,” said Ashford.

Biggest Mistake: “If you create a site and don’t have a fully operational plan set up ahead of time. If you give citizens a way to engage digitally and then there is no follow-through the public will lose faith,” said Ashford.

Leap of Faith: “Sometimes it’s scary for government’s to put all the data out there and elicit feedback. But citizen are demanding it,” said Ashford.

You can also take their engagement assessment. Click here for more details.


  • The globalisation of work – and people – In the near future, at least five billion people around the world will use some form of mobile device to download information, access knowledge and coach and teach each other. Some will have the intellectual capacity and motivation to really make something of this opportunity, wherever they happen to be born These people will want to join the global talent pool and, if possible, migrate to creative and vibrant cities. By doing so, this vast crowd of talented people will increasingly compete with each other, continuously upping the stakes for what it takes to succeed. It seems to me that this will impact all of us in three ways – the hollowing out of work, the globalisation of virtual work, and the rise of the ‘transnational’.
  • Meet the Office-Less Company — The Web-services company Automattic Inc. has 123 employees working in 26 countries, 94 cities and 28 U.S. states. Its offices? Workers’ homes. At Automattic, which hosts the servers for the blogging platform WordPress.com, work gets done wherever employees choose, and virtual meetings are conducted on Skype or over Internet chat. The company has a San Francisco office for occasional use, but project management, brainstorming and water-cooler chatter take place on internal blogs. If necessary, team members fly around the world to meet each other face to face. And if people have sensitive questions, they pick up the phone.
  • Big Data Shows Hyperlocal Harshness of 2012 Drought: Big Data helps farmers weather drought damage: Farming is a risky business–see this summer’s grinding drought hitting the Heartland. Farm insurance is also risky business — one in which San Francisco-based The Climate Corporation uses predictive analytics to crunch “massive streams of climate data to assess future risk and current damage,” allowing the company to manage its cash flow more precisely, reports Wired’s Marcus Wohlen. CEO David Friedberg says fine sifting of climate data allows farmers to protect themselves better while enabling his company to shore up its own defenses with much greater precision against the vicissitudes of weather.
  • Speaking of big data… it is big data is… or big data are? UK Guardian’s Data Blog delves into the grammar debate.

Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply