Month: December 2011

Baltimore Open Government 2011 Year in Review

Baltimore City Hall - Photo by wallyg

Photo by wallyg

Following up on my previous post for the City of Philadelphia, this post describes what happened on the open government and open data fronts in the City of Baltimore in 2011.

OpenBaltimore Launches

The open data movement in Baltimore officially began with the unveiling of the OpenBaltimore data repository in January, 2011.

Running on the Socrata platform, OpenBaltimore launched to great excitement in the Baltimore technology community, many of whom had been advocating for a civic hacking event in the city for some time.

In the span of just a few weeks, Baltimore seemed to go from zero to 100 on open data.  The SODA API built into the OpenBaltimore platform seemed to dovetail perfectly with requests from the developer community for Baltimore City to give them the raw materials to build civic apps.

Civic hacking soon ensued.

Civic Hacking

In February, the very first civic hacking event took place in Baltimore.  This wasn’t the first hacking event to take place in Charm City, but it was the first to happen after the City published open data sets for developers to build civic apps with.  And that’s exactly what they did.

In early February, software developers, journalists and civic activists converged on the Emerging Technologies Center in Baltimore’s Canton Neighborhood to build civic apps.  One of the great things about this event (in addition to the visible enthusiasm of the developers that attended) was the fact that Socrata had their lead developer evangelist on site, working along side the Baltimore developers to use the City’s new open data platform.

This event would set the tone for much of the civic hacking that was to take place in Baltimore for the remainder of the year.

Later in the year, a second civic hacking event would take place at Digital Harbor High School in the City’s Federal Hill neighborhood.  This highly successful event – Education Hack Day – was focused on the needs of teachers and schools, and brought educators and technologists together for a successful weekend of app building.  This event was recognized as a runner up for “Best Civic Hackathon” in the recent GovFresh Awards contest.

The Search for an OpenGov Champion

The OpenBaltimore site was launched at something of an odd time as it relates to Baltimore City government and politics.

The City actually decided to build an open data portal before the man that would become the City’s CIO (Rico Singleton) was in his current position.  The very real potential existed for the OpenBaltimore project to be lost in the shuffle as the incoming CIO asserted his new authority and lined up resource to execute his own priorities.

In addition,  2011 was an election year in Baltimore, with the sitting Mayor (Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the former City Council President who took over the office when her predecessor resigned amid a scandal) running for a full term.  There was speculation in the technology community that the launch of OpenBaltimore was nothing more than a political ploy – a hollow nod to the calls from local developers for open data and a good way to shore up the Rawlings-Blake Administration’s record on transparency.

Mayoral elections can wreak havoc on open data programs.  Civic activists in Baltimore needed only to look a few miles to the south – to the District of Columbia – to see the dramatic change that a mayoral election can have on the direction of a municipal open data program.  The District – once a pioneer in the open government movement – has fallen almost completely off the OpenGov radar following the defeat of former Mayor Adrian Fenty in the Democratic primary in September of  2010.

Real questions about Baltimore City’s commitment to open data were raised leading up to the Baltimore Mayoral primary.  I myself had a chance to weigh in on this issue – ultimately, I felt that the City’s commitment to open data was genuine and that there was great potential for civic engagement and change.

One of the most interesting and valuable events of the year served as a vehicle for addressing many of these concerns and fostering an open discussion between the technology community and the Baltimore City CIO.

Dubbed, “BmoreSmart Meets City Hall,” the event was organized by Kate Baldow and brought dozens of interested parties to Baltimore City Hall to engage in a dialog with CIO Rico Singleton.  A frank, honest and open discussion took place and those that attended learned a lot about the challenges that face Baltimore and the plans for the future of open data.

Coming Full Circle on 311

Baltimore was the first city in the US to use the 311 designated dialing code and a centralized call center to field citizen requests on non-emergency issues.  So it was fitting that in 2011 Baltimore joined the ranks of cities to deploy an Open311 API.

In connection with this announcement, Baltimore also launched 311 apps for the iPhone and Android, and launched a Twitter account for tracking 311 service requests.

Baltimore’s embrace of Open311 looks like it will be one of the most productive avenues for engaging developers to build civic apps to help the city.  It would be great to see some outreach in this area in 2012.

The Road Ahead in 2012

In the past several weeks, Baltimore City CIO Rico Singleton has been on a tear – releasing scores of new data sets to the OpenBaltimore platform.  He’s hired a Chief Digital Officer for Baltimore and conducted the interview via live video stream, with questions for each of the candidates solicited from the local tech community via Twitter.

The deep pool of talented people in Baltimore that want to use city data to build useful civic apps was evident in some truly innovative projects that developed through the course of the year.

Following the Civic Hack Day in February, Shea Frederick began work on what would become SpotAgent – an app that uses data from OpenBaltimore to find safe parking in the city.  Beyond just being a great app, and a great example for municipal officials of what can be done with city data, Shea’s work highlighted an important issue for OpenBaltimore – the frequency of data updates.  With Shea’s strategic prodding, the city began a pilot project to update parking violations (and other data sets) much more frequently, making them more valuable for everyone.

Shea teamed up with other talented Baltimore developers Jonathan Julian and James Schaffer for Baltimore Vacants – a project to provide more usable information on who owns vacant properties in Baltimore.  Jonathan was also one of the stars of the Education Hack Day in Baltimore (his team won first prize) and he blogged about his experience at the event to encourage others to take up civic hacking.

Another vacant property project was taken on this year by Mike Subelsky, a talented developer who announced several weeks ago that he wanted to take on a “free software project” as both a way to learn new skills and to kick start a viable project.  Mike ended up working with Kate Bladow and Baltimore Slumlord Watch on a project to identify who owns vacant properties.  Mike was gracious enough to not only work on the project, and to publish all the great data he was able to pull together, but also to write a detailed blog post about the experience.  Mike’s post is worth the read for those interested in the value of open data.

If the City of Baltimore fully commits to engaging this smart, talented community of developers and civic activists in 2012 it will be a banner year for the open government movement in Charm City.

Open Gov Champions for 2011

Baltimore’s community of civic-minded hackers is deeper than most cities, so the following is by no means an exhaustive list of those who have contributed to the open government movement in that city.  But as I said previously with the list I put together for Philadelphia, when I think about the open government movement in Baltimore it is hard to imagine how it would work without these people.

Mike Brenner.  Mike is a tireless advocate for open government and open data.  He was the very first person I ever became aware of calling for civic hacking events in Baltimore, and he was the primary organizer for both of the events that took in Baltimore this year.  Like others in the Baltimore technology community, Mike has heard the siren call of the Big Apple and Silicon Valley and he’d be a huge success in either place.  But he’s a Baltimorean at heart and he cares deeply about his city.  Every city should be so lucky as to have someone like Mike Brenner working to make things better.

Dave Troy. Dave is a successful entrepreneur whose been around the block more than once. Like so many others in the Baltimore technology community, he cares passionately about his city and wants to make it work better and smarter through the innovative use of technology. Dave’s idea to use LinkedIn data to visualize the relationships between people in the Baltimore community was one of the most interesting and creative uses of data that I saw all year. Dave’s leadership will hep propel the open government movement in Baltimore forward in 2012.

Rico Singleton. He’s got a lot on his plate – outdated technology infrastructure, budget woes and more projects than you can shake a stick at – but everything I saw from Baltimore’s CIO this year tells me he’s in the OpenGov game to win it.  There are certainly enough challenges in Baltimore to justify putting OpenBaltimore on the back burner, but Rico continues to push things forward with the release of new data sets and the constant improvement of the OpenBaltimore site.

Philadelphia Open Government 2011 Year in Review


Photo by vic15

The time of year-end reviews and top 10 lists is now upon us, so I’m compiling the details of a watershed year for open data and civic hacking in two cities where I’ve seen huge leaps made in 2011 – Philadelphia and Baltimore.

In this first installment, I’ll focus on the “City of Brotherly Love” and highlight some of the events and developments of the past year that made it such a special one for the open government movement there.  In the next installment, I’ll do the same for “Charm City.”

Code for America Launches in Philadelphia

2011 began with enormous potential for the growth of the open government footprint in Philadelphia because of a group of coders and designers that came to town as part of Code for America (CfA).  Philadelphia was one of the CfA partner cities for 2011, and the group of fellows that came to town in the early part of the year wasted no time in making their presence felt.

The group tore into it’s work, and kicked of a series of informal hackathons that primed the pump for much of the civic hacking that was to come later in the year.  To my knowledge, these events were the very first of what could be called “civic hacking” events to take place in Philadelphia, and I thought their impact was hugely important:

“What I was most impressed with was the ability of this event to highlight to those that were there what is truly possible when government data is open to and usable by developers. It provided an object lesson for all those there on the true potential of civic hacking…

“Having the Code for America fellows in Philadelphia, and having them essentially kick start civic coding using city data, has accelerated the awareness of what is possible. I think people would have achieved the awareness that was realized yesterday eventually, but the CfA fellows got people there sooner.

Throughout the year, in addition to its primary mission in Philadelphia, CfA and the fellows that were a part of it were involved in a number of different aspects of the open government evolution taking place in that city.  Whether as speakers, supporters or participants in other civic events, the “CfA effect’ was an important component of what happened in Philadelphia this past year on the open government front.

OpenDataPhilly and Philly Tech Week

In late April, Philadelphia made big waves in the open data world by launching its own unique open data repository.

Announced at the kick off event for the very first “Philly Tech Week,” the website and data repository was unveiled with great fanfare.  The unique approach taken by Philadelphia has turned out to be a key to it’s success:

“The city actively partnered with outside parties, private firms, not-for-profits and universities to help set the direction of the city’s open data efforts. The OpenDataPhilly website itself, although it’s brimming with data collected and maintained by the city, was developed by the geospatial and civic application firm Azavea, and is not hosted or operated by the city.  The website, and the larger open data effort in Philadelphia, operates under the stewardship of a group made up of both public sector and private sector partners.”

The follow up to the launch of the OpenDataPhilly site was quick, and turned out to have some lasting impact in the Philly open government movement.

At the end of Philly Tech Week, Technically Philly convened a hackathon that took place in conjunction with BarCamp News Innovation at Temple University.  The hackers at this event focused their attention on property data within the City of Philadelphia, and developed a web app built from “liberated” Office of Property Assessment data that made the data more easily searchable.

This theme of searchable property records has continued to resonate in the open data and journalism communities, and the app originally built at that initial post-OpenDataPhilly event continues to be actively developed and used.

Hackathons and more Hackathons

Following Philly Tech Week, several other fruitful hacking events were organized in Philadelphia that have helped develop more open data and APIs in Philly, and more useful civic applications.

In June and December, Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) events were held at Drexel University, organized by Drexel PhD candidate Mike Brennan.  Both events have produced nationally recognized civic applications.

The June RHoK event produced PhillySNAP – a text messaging application that helps people locate SNAP vendors that sell fresh produce in their neighborhoods.  This application received an honorable mention in the FCC’s Apps for Communities contest.

The December RHoK event produced Sheltr – a mobile web application that provides food and shelter information for those seeking to assist the homeless.  This application was named “Best Social Service Application” in the recently completed GovFresh Awards contest.

In October, a group of hackers convened on the Devnuts co-working space in Northern Liberties to build applications using SEPTA data and APIs.  This event produced a number of useful applications, and also had the full cooperation and support of SEPTA staff.  In addition, several weeks after the event, Mike Zaleski – Director Emerging and Specialty Technology at SEPTA – organized a unique event to bring the civic hackers into SEPTA for a behind the scenes tour and a showcase for SEPTA employees.

OpenData Race and the Road Ahead in 2012

The road ahead into 2012 for open government and open data in Philly was set with the launch of the OpenData Race in August.

The OpenData Race was a competition open to not-for-profits that want to obtain data from the City of Philadelphia to further their missions and to better serve their constituencies.  It called on not-for-profits to nominate data that is not currently available through the OpenDataPhilly site or through other sources to be released by the city in an open format.  The top nominations received cash prizes, and the OpenDataPhilly team is now working with the City of Philadelphia to facilitate the release of the winning data sets.

The winning data sets – announced at the Crowdsourcing at the Intersection forum in October – will fuel a new series of civic hacking events in 2012 and continue the virtuous cycle that was begun this year with newly open data leading to greater civic participation and the development of useful civic applications.

Code for America will be back to Philly next year, and 2012 is shaping up to be another productive one for the open data movement n Philadelphia.

Open Gov Champions for 2011

Now that 2011 is almost complete, I think its fitting to single out several people who have helped shape the landscape of the open gov movement in Philadelphia.  These are by no means the only individuals who helped push things forward this year – the movement, by definition, is open and encompasses lots of people from a wide array of backgrounds and skill sets.  That, in my mind, is what makes it so potent.

However, when I think about the open government movement in Philadelphia it is hard to imagine how it would work without these people.

Robert Cheetham – President and CEO of Azavea.  Robert was one of the driving forces behind OpenDataPhilly and the OpenData Race.  His firm built the platform that runs, and he has helped launch it as an open data platform in other cities. His knowledge of technology and Philadelphia government ,and his passion for civic improvement make him the “Godfather” of open data in Philly.

Christopher Wink – Co-founder of publishing strategy firm Technically Media and its technology news site Technically Philly. Chris believes in open government and open data down to his bones, and it shows in his tireless coverage and support for open government events. Technically Philly sponsored pretty much every single civic hacking event in Philly in 2011, and was another driving force behind OpenDataPhilly and the OpenData Race.  Chris is one of the most progressive thinkers on open data that I know, and I think his vision will help chart the path that we travel down for years to come.

Jeff Friedman – Manager of Civic Innovation & Participation in the Office of Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  The “inside man” for open data in Philly, Jeff is a tireless advocate for Code for America, civic participation and changing the way government engages citizens.  Jeff has helped bring together smart passionate people in Philly over the past year to help move the open government effort forward.

2011 GovFresh City of the Year: New York City

Mayor Bloomberg unveils Road Map for the Digital City with Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne on May 16, 2011. (Photo Credit: Spencer T Tucker)

Mayor Bloomberg unveils Road Map for the Digital City with Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne on May 16, 2011. (Photo Credit: Spencer T Tucker)

New York City was honored as the ‘City of the Year’ in our  2011 GovFresh Awards. We asked NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne to highlight the work done in 2011, what made it happen, and share what’s to come in 2012.

What happened in NYC this year?

2011 has been a thrilling year for technology in New York City. Last January Mayor Bloomberg created NYC Digital and we hit the ground running with a focus on improving the way we serve New Yorkers through digital technology. Our first order of business was publishing the Road Map for the Digital City, which gathered information about the state of the City’s technology initiatives and outlined our plans to realize New York City potential as the leading Digital City in the world. Shortly afterwards, we hosted the City’s first-ever hackathon, Reinvent NYC.GOV. Thanks to the over one hundred individuals who participated, it was a great success and attracted developers from across the country who built innovative prototypes re-imagining the City’s website. With our Engage NYC initiative, we’ve developed workshops and training sessions for communications staff across City government. We unveiled NYC Open Data, a repository of over 850 government datasets, and an accompanying Tumblr for striking data visualizations to make our data more accessible to the broader NYC community; we grew to over 200 social media channels with more than 1.5 million followers across City government; we’re constantly reaching out to the city’s burgeoning start-up scene and getting input from entrepreneurs; we’ve joined the Mayor to recognize homegrown startups Foursquare, Tumblr, and Etsy with official visits, and to open new offices with Facebook, Twitter and Yelp– the list goes on and on.

And of course there’s the Applied Sciences NYC Initiative which heralds the creation of a brand-new engineering campus in New York City. Just this week, Mayor Bloomberg announced that Cornell and Technion were chosen to develop the campus on Roosevelt Island, which will be a game-changer for both the city’s tech scene and its economic future.

What’s your secret? How does a large city like NYC inspire and maintain civic innovation?

Listening to public needs and taking a metrics-based approach to innovation is at the core of our strategy. The Mayor often remarks that New York City is the intellectual capital of the world. We’re fortunate to benefit from the phenomenal input, ideas and efforts from the public, from the tech community, and from inside City government.

We make it a priority to connect government folks with technology partners, to bridge those sectors, and to provide New York City government employees with the support and freedom they need to be effective communicators and innovators.

An important part of our mission is to provide the resources needed to help City agencies realize their own digital media goals and leverage technologies to achieve their objectives.

We know that New Yorkers who engage with their government through these digital channels will feel empowered and want to get involved even further – that’s the most satisfying part about all of our efforts, and it really speaks to Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to the power of technology and innovation within government.

Who all deserves a shout-out?

Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership has fueled innovation in City government. New York City is the greatest city in the world, and the Mayor decided that we needed to have the most innovative City government, too. And the hard work of the many talented digital and communications staffers across New York City government has been crucial. The Social Media Advisory and Research Taskforce (, a group of digital pioneers from across City agencies, has been instrumental in embracing new technologies and evolving policies. And we all know there is still so much more we can do.

We’ve also been fortunate to partner with some of the greatest tech companies in the world, many homegrown in NYC, including Bitly, Buddy Media, Facebook, Foursquare, Google, Soundcloud, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube. We use their tools and products all the time, and their help has made a world of difference. In addition, we are hugely appreciative to devoted technologists who have helped us innovate, both virtually and in person, at the Reinvent NYC.GOVhackathon, and by creating applications using NYC’s OpenData platform.

But above all, the New Yorkers who engage with the City online every day deserve the biggest shout out of all. They are playing a huge role in New York City government and helping us to improve our own efforts every day.

We’ve also been fortunate to partner with some of the greatest tech companies in the world, including Bitly, Buddy Media, Facebook, Foursquare, General Assembly, Google, Soundcloud, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube. We use their tools and products all the time, and their help has made a world of difference. In addition, we are hugely appreciative to devoted technologists who have helped us innovative both virtually and in person, at the Reinvent NYC.GOVhackathon, and by creating dozens of applications using NYC’s OpenData platform.

But above all, the New Yorkers who engage with the City online every day deserve the biggest shout out of all. They are playing a huge role in New York City government and helping us to improve our own efforts every day.

What can we expect in 2012?

As great as 2011 was, 2012 will be even better. We’re going to completely relaunch nyc.govand make it the best government website across the globe. Our goal is to make it as convenient and quick as possible for residents to get the information and services they seek.

We’re going to increase and improve our social media channels too – there are a lot of interesting projects and campaigns in the pipeline. We will introduce a new Citywide social media management platform, in addition to the launching and relaunching of Citywide social media verticals including a Foursquare badge, Facebook page, Tumblr, and our great @nycgov Twitter feed. Stay tuned, because it’s going to be very exciting.

2011 GovFresh Citizen of the Year: Adriel Hampton

2011 GovFresh Citizen of the Year: Adriel Hampton

Fresh off off getting recognized as the 2011 GovFresh Awards ‘Citizen of the Year,’ we asked Gov 2.0 Radio host and founder and NationBuilder Chief Organizer Adriel Hampton to share more about his work and what drives him.

What efforts over the past year have you been involved with that you’re most proud of?

Gosh, there are a lot. I was really happy to work with my great SF City Attorney colleague Jen Drake on the SF version of the global “Let’s Do It!” movement with local cleanups and blight mapping as part of “Let’s Do It SF!.” Also with Jen, I helped create the “Local Lifesavers” project in SF, supporting the great “PulsePoint” emergency response app from the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and organizing local basic emergency response trainings. CityCamp was a big part of my year, from the first camps in Oklahoma City and Raleigh to an SF unconference at the SF Department of Technology offices and a hackathon in December with Javier Muniz and the great folks at Granicus in SF supporting the work of local nonprofits and good government activists.

I did some fun feature writing for the new “Social Media Monthly” magazine, including pieces critical of Google+’s identity policies and supportive of Occupy Wall Street.

We had several great months of “Third Thursdays” civic tech mixers in SF. I co-founded SF Tech Dems to help connect technologists with Democratic Party leaders in SF and California.

I was really happy about the continued success of Gov 2.0 Radio, aided tremendously this year by the addition of Sydney-based open government expert Allison Hornery as a co-host. I helped Karen Suhaka launch her new legislative data company Legination and its BillTrack50 product. I helped draft and organizing support for a new digital open records law that California Sen. Leland Yee has announced he will sponsor.

I left the City of San Francisco to join NationBuilder and help it grow to supporting more than 300 active advocacy groups, politicians and filmmakers around the world.

What drives you to do what you do?

Ha! Sometimes I wonder that myself. I guess I’m just really concerned that as individual citizens we need to be involved in “being the change.” I can be as cynical and full of fear about the future as anyone when I think about our economy and government, but I’ve decided that the best thing I can do with my energy is to fight for what I believe in – open, accountable and efficient government, a strong social safety net, and the advancement of democracy and human equality through technological innovation. And when I can’t have personal direct impact, I can certainly use my skills and networks to advance and promote the work of others.

There is a speech by novelist Haruki Murakami I first read this year that sums up a lot of how I feel:

“We are all human beings, individuals transcending nationality and race and religion, fragile eggs faced with a solid wall called the System. To all appearances, we have no hope of winning. The wall is too high, too strong — and too cold. If we have any hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our believing in the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others’ souls and from the warmth we gain by joining souls together.”

What civic advice do you have for your fellow citizens?

It’s easier than you think to make a major difference. Organizing matters. Presence matters. Perseverance matters.

2011 GovFresh Public Servant of the Year: Matthew Esquibel

2011 GovFresh Public Servant of the Year Matthew Esquibel

Photo courtesy of Matthew Esquibel

Fresh off off getting recognized as the 2011 GovFresh Awards ‘Public Servant of the Year,’ we asked the City of Austin’s Matthew Esquibel, Programmer Analyst Supervisor for Internet/Intranet Web Design in the Office of Communications & Technology Management, to share more about his work.

What are you working on in Austin that inspires you most?

We just launched a new Open Source website ( and Open Data Portal ( this week. It was the culmination of a lot of work between the city and the community and puts Austin in a great position to advance our goals of transparency, efficiency and collaboration. It is great to work with a variety of teams and individuals who believe so strongly in these initiatives. I am particularly excited about the City of Austin’s 2012 partnership with Code for America and look forward to working with them to bring great solutions to Austin.

What general trends do you see in government technology and open government that are changing the way government works?

I think there is a strong trend to try and learn lessons from the private sector and startup companies and to figure out how to apply those strategies to how government does business. It is clear that there is a large gap between the agility and innovation you typically find in a startup company and the business-as-usual approach often found in government. Focusing on open platforms, open data,agile project methodologies and collaborative community/non-profit partnerships–government is finding ways to do things smarter and we are starting to see the positive effect.

What big plans does Austin have for 2012?

2012 is all about building on the open platform and data initiatives we started this year. In many ways, our work in these areas is just beginning. We are obviously very excited about our partnership with Code for America and know that this relationship will really help keep the momentum going. We definitely want to show the world that being open to new solutions and partnerships will lead to great things for Austin and government in general.

Who gets a shout-out?

I definitely want to recognize the leadership at the City of Austin who have embraced open platform and data initiatives–it is crucial to have support at all levels to be successful. I also want to thank the web project team leaders Chris Florance and Charles Purma who never gave up on helping to push these initiatives forward–and the staff of the web team who did all the awesome work to implement them. Also, the Austin community, particularly OpenAustin, for being an articulate and energizing force. Raja, the Master Blaster! And finally, Mackenzie Kelly, a neighbor I have never met, but appears to be equally deserving of this honor.

Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn and Twitter at @escribbles and Austin Government at @austingovonline.

Citizen reporting platform CitySourced gets $1.33 million in funding

CitySourcedLocation-based mobile reporting platform CitySourced announced it has raised $1.33 million in Series A financing.

According to the company, the funding will be used for product development, sales and marketing efforts.

CitySourced Founder and CEO Jason A. Kiesel said the company is profitable, but “when the opportunity to work with our current investor presented itself, the strategic potential it brought to the table was too valuable to pass up. We are very excited about accelerating our growth, improving on our existing product suite and the future at CitySourced.”

CitySourced cites U.S. cities San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego and Corpus Christi, as well as cities in Canada, United Kingdom, Nederland, Australia, and Abu Dhabi, as customers.

2011 GovFresh Awards winners

2011 GovFresh Awards

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2011 GovFresh Awards. Thank you also to our judges and partners. This was an incredible experience for us to be part of.

So many of you are doing such great work for your communities. Thank you everyone for all you’ve done this year.

Congratulations to the 2011 GovFresh Awards winners.


Note: You can find out more about the winning apps and cities on the Civic Commons Marketplace.


Alissa Black

Alissa BlackAlissa Black is the Government Relations Director at Code for America. Through its fellowship program, Code for America recruits passionate technologists into public service to help governments become more open and efficient. Alissa has extensive experience in technology and local government, most recently leading the Open311 effort with the City of San Francisco, and she holds a Masters in Urban Planning from NYU. Connect on Twitter.

Kevin Curry

Kevin CurryKevin Curry is a co-founder and director of CityCamp and is co-founder of Bridgeborn, Inc. CityCamp is an international unconference series and online community dedicated to innovation for municipal governments and community organizations. Since the inaugural event in Chicago, January 2010, there have been 18 CityCamps in 16 cities, including San Francisco, Denver, Raleigh, and Minneapolis. CityCamps have also been held in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, St. Petersburg, Russia, and London, England. Connect on Twitter.

Kristy Fifelski

Kristy FifelskiKristy Fifelski is an award-winning speaker, trainer and advisor on digital strategy and social media. She serves in many advisory roles related to online government and has served over 10 years in public service. Kristy manages web services and social media for the City of Reno, Nevada, and formerly served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Government Webmasters. She is the host and creator of, a video blog exploring online government. Kristy earned a Master’s Degree in Communication from Northern Illinois University, where she graduated with honors. Connect on Twitter.

Nick Grossman

Nick GrossmanNick Grossman is Managing Director of Civic Commons and Open Cities Evangelist for OpenPlans. For the past 10 years, he has developed products and grown businesses that help cities work better. In 2010, Nick co-founded Civic Commons, a new nonprofit initiative that helps governments collaborate around technology development projects. Since 2006, Nick led new product and business development at OpenPlans, building enterprise open source software for cities. He is also an advisor to Code for America and a visiting researcher at the MIT Media Lab. He is a graduate of Stanford University. Connect on Twitter.

Dustin Haisler

Dustin HaislerDustin Haisler is currently the Director of Government Innovation for Spigit, Inc., and former Assistant City Manager and Chief Information Officer for the City of Manor, Texas. Dustin helped launch Manor’s open innovation platform, Manor Labs, in conjunction with the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Dustin graduated Magna Cum Laude from LeTourneau University with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration. Connect on Twitter.

Alex Howard

Alex HowardAlexander B. Howard is Radar‘s Government 2.0 Correspondent for 
O’Reilly Media, where he reports on technology, open government and online civics. Connect on Twitter.

Nigel Jacob

Nigel JacobWith an extensive background in collaborative, citizen-facing technology projects, Nigel Jacob co-founded the Office of New Urban Mechanics. Nigel also serves as Mayor Menino’s advisor on emerging technologies. In both of these roles, Nigel works to develop new models of innovation for cities in the 21st century. Prior to joining the City of Boston in 2006, Nigel worked with a series of technology start-ups in the Boston area. Nigel is also a fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Public Action at Bennington College, where he conducts research on cutting edge models of civic engagement in urban settings. Connect on Twitter.

Nick Judd

Nick JuddNick Judd is the managing editor of techPresident, a news site covering how technology is changing politics, government and civic life. Prior to joining techPresident’s parent company, Personal Democracy Media, he reported on politics and local government for several publications in and around New York City. Nick also did a stint as an urban public policy researcher at the think tank Center for an Urban Future. Connect on Twitter.

Teresa Lee

Teresa LeeSince January, 2004, Teresa has been the webmaster for the City of Prattville, Ala. She also serves as the public information officer and city photographer. Teresa is currently working on an open government project for Prattville that will be the first of its kind in the State of Alabama on the municipal level. She serves as South Region Director for the National Association of Government Webmasters. Connect on Twitter.

Sarah Schacht

Sarah SchachtThe Betty White of Gov 2.0., Sarah Schacht is the Founder and Director of Knowledge As Power & OpenGovWest. Transparency, civic engagement designer. Open legislative info/tech advisor. Connect on Twitter.

Luke FretwellLuke Fretwell is the founder of GovFresh. He spent the first part of his career inside the Beltway before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he has worked in and now advises start-up companies, businesses and government on product, content, Web, branding and social media strategy. He holds degrees in Government & Politics and International Relations from George Mason University. Connect with GovFresh on Twitter.


Code for America

National Association of Government Webmasters


Civic Commons


Gov 2.0 Radio


Five open data visualizations from Cook County (IL)

Here are five visualizations from the new Cook County (IL) open data catalog. See also Gov 2.0 Radio’s interview with Cook County Deputy Director of New Media Sebastian James about the launch of

Find it Fast – Cook County Public Facilities and Services Map

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2011 Top 5 Sheriff’s Police Violations

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Map of FY 2011 Outpatient Registrations, by Zip to Current Period

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Cook County Mortgages

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Map of Elected Officials Serving Cook County

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The state of U.S. state government finances in four simple charts

Four charts from Google Public Data Explorer summarize how U.S. state governments are trending with respect to finances. Despite all odds, however, liquor stores continue to hold their own when it comes to generating revenue.


All amounts of money received by a government from external sources–net of refunds and other correcting transactions–other than from issuance of debt, liquidation of investments, and as agency and private trust transactions. Note that revenue excludes noncash transactions such as receipt of services, commodities, or other “receipts in kind.”

Cash Security Holdings

Cash and deposits and governmental and private securities (bonds, notes, mortgages, corporate stocks, etc., including loans and other credit paper held by state loan and investment funds) except holdings of agency and private trust funds. Includes fund investments in securities issued by government concerned but does not include interfund loans, receivables, and the value of real property and other fixed assets.


All amounts of money paid out by a government–net of recoveries and other correcting transactions–other than for retirement of debt, investment in securities, extension of credit, or as agency transactions. Note that expenditure includes only external transactions of a government and excludes non-cash transactions such as the provision of perquisites or other payments in kind.

Debt at end of fiscal year

All long-term credit obligations of the government and its agencies whether backed by the governments’ full faith and credit or nonguaranteed, and all interest-bearing short-term credit obligations. Includes judgments, mortgages, and revenue bonds, as well as general obligations bonds, notes, and interest-bearing warrants.