Open311

Great video from the Chicago mayor’s office on their Open 311 deployment.

Alissa Black joined the New America Foundation in April to lead the newly-formed California Civic Innovation Project, focused on building “communities of practice within California’s local governments and identifies best practices to improving service delivery, opening new channels for public voices, and bridging the state’s digital divides.”

Chicago Chief Technology Officer John Tolva joins us to discuss the city’s open data and open311 initiatives, as well as its work with Code for America.

San Francisco has published a request for proposal to integrate Open311 with the city’s CRM software, Langan. Bid submissions are due February 3.

Every day, tech-minded citizens across the country are doing good by their communities, literally geeking out about how they can help re-define the relationship government has with its citizens, using technology as a democratic tool to empower both.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has a blog post on how cities are collaborating to better leverage data analytics and maximize taxpayer return on investment. The post cites examples from major American cities and how they’ve leveraged data, especially 311 logs, to realize efficiencies.

Code for America has published videos of CfA Fellows demoing their apps during the Code for America Summit held October 13-14 in San Francisco.

New York City Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne’s Strata New York 2011 presentation is a great overview of the city’s open government work.

What if you could make litter, graffiti, and other problems in your neighborhood go away just by using your phone?

Blockboard is the latest start-up building a location-based mobile application that aims to give you a hyperlocal view into everything happening in your neighborhood.

The San Francisco’s City Attorney’s Office (where I work) has launched an anti-blight initiative that wraps consumer tech, city services and a local-global approach to volunteerism in a multi-channel social media package.

Just received the latest Code for America newsletter and wanted to share info about its ‘Lab Day’ program that happens every Friday in its San Francisco offices.

Steven Johnson, author of Where Good Ideas Come From, has a fantastic article in Wired about 311 in New York City (What a Hundred Million Calls to 311 Reveal About New York). Jason Kottke references the post and shares a point his friend makes that I’ve never really thought about.

Public servants, developers and entrepreneurs gathered together to discuss and learn about the civic value of open data and how the City of San Francisco and private citizens are leveraging this opportunity at sf.govfresh, Sept. 1, at Adobe Systems’ San Francisco offices. Speakers included San Francisco Chief Information Officer Chris Vein, Mom Maps Founder & CEO Jill Seman, San Francisco Department of Technology Director of Innovation Jay Nath, Stamen Partner Michal Migurski, Routesy Founder Steven Peterson and SF Environment Internet Communications Coordinator Lawrence Grodeska.

I’m very excited about GovFresh’s first event next week, sf.govfresh, September 1, 2010, 6:00-9:00 p.m. Admission is free and will held in a beautiful space at Adobe‘s San Francisco offices (special thanks to Adobe for hosting and sponsoring this event).

The goal of sf.govfresh is to bring together public servants, citizens, civic developers and social entrepreneurs to network and learn more about San Francisco’s innovation, technology and open government initiatives. Together we can learn how government is changing the way it works and how we as citizens can change the way we work with government.

Bryan Sivak (Twitter) is Chief Technology Officer for the District of Columbia, promoting open data and open government initiatives, from projects like TrackDC to the city’s adoption of Open311 as a citizen service platform.

A discussion with Mark Headd, an app developer and former govie, about civic apps. Headd explains Open311 and accessing government services and lowering costs using Twitter, and gives ideas on how to engage developers around government civic apps contests.

An increasing number of people are starting to suggest that the concept of the “app contest” (where governments challenge developers to build civic applications) is getting a bit long in the tooth.

There have been lots of musings lately about the payoff for governments that hold such contests and the long term viability of individual entries developed for these contests. Even Washington DC – the birthplace of the current government app contest craze – seems the be moving beyond the framework it has employed not once, but twice to engage local developers.

Earlier this year, I had an idea to build a Twitter application that would allow a citizen to start a 311 service request with their city.

At the time, there was no way to build such an application as no municipality had yet adopted a 311 API that would support it (although the District of Columbia did have a 311 API in place, it did not – at the time – support the type of application I envisioned).

That changed recently, when San Francisco announced the deployment of their Open311 API. I quickly requested an API key and began trying to turn my idea into reality.

311 is an abbreviated dialing designation set up for use by municipal governments in both the U.S. and Canada. Dialing 311 in communities where it is implemented will typically direct a caller to a call center where an operator will provide information in response to a question, or open a service ticket in response to report of an issue. The difference between 311 and other abbreviated dialing designations (like 911) can be summed up by a promotional slogan for the service used in the City of Los Angeles: “Burning building? Call 911. Burning question? Call 311.”

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