Month: March 2016

New digital city pilot program

ProudCity Pilot Program

Lately, I’ve focused much of my time on ProudCity and haven’t had the time to write much here, but I wanted to share a great opportunity for cities looking for a digital upgrade.

We’ve launched our ProudCity Pilot Program that gives cities a chance to collaborate closely with ProudCity and test and give feedback on new product developments.

Cities receive one year of free ProudCity services, and we work directly with them to assess their current digital systems, how they can be optimized, and then help them quickly onboard to the platform.

It’s an excellent opportunity for cities to reboot their digital service offering and for ProudCity to learn firsthand the needs of municipal governments and help them modernize their online offerings.

A great example of this is our first pilot city, West Carrollton, Ohio, and how they moved a seven year-old website to ProudCity in 60 days. Read about West Carrollton’s pilot experience in Government Technology.

To qualify for the program, cities must launch:

  • A public city BETA (test) website within 30 days
  • An official LIVE city website within 60 days

Application deadline is Wednesday, March 30, 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, and our next pilot city will be announced Friday, April 1.

Learn more ProudCity Pilot Program.

Email me at if you have any questions.

Kickstarter campaign for city design method cards

Photo: Andy Boenau, Speakeasy Media

Photo: Andy Boenau, Speakeasy Media

GreaterPlaces is holding a fundraiser for city design method cards and a mobile app that “brings all aspects of city design together in one resource designed for everyone.”

The campaign is asking for $38,000 in support.

Video pitch:

Q&A with GreaterPlaces co-founder Lisa Nisenson:

Why cards instead of a book?

Cards are portable bursts of information that can be stacked, organized, and grouped in many ways to tell a story (especially important for placemaking) by anyone involved in the design process. A book’s order of fixed chapters is set by the writers and editors.

Also, decks of cards are easily updatable (think: expansion packs), can spark conversations, and change the dynamics of engagement – instead of a lecture or slideshow, cards invite one-on-one interactions and conversations.

What are the decks?

We are planning 12-15 decks in the Kickstarter run (though we can add as many as we need to the app). We will cover the basics like City Design 101, Street Design and Economic Development as well as cutting edge topics like Civic Technology, Resilience and Green Infrastructure. Send ideas to @CityDesignCards you’d like to see.

Besides being cards, how is this really different than existing tools?

The short answer is outreach and technology! The Method Cards provide an opportunity for meeting people where they are on the learning curve, letting people take deeper dives into information at their own pace, and easily share their findings. The topics being included are not only fed into the mobile app but incorporate the myriad types of civic technology emerging but not yet efficiently harnessed. The tech is not for tech’s sake, but rather how it fits in to present, link and organize material.

Who is your audience?

Everyone involved in shaping communities: professionals (planning, engineering, architecture, economic development, etc.), elected officials, citizen leaders, non-profits, academia, philanthropic groups, writers, and more.

How is this financially sustainable?

This is a marketplace (advertising) for small and medium priced firms – for far less than print/digital/trade show packages that are thousands of dollars. We have worked with dozens of firms to shape this new platform for branding, storytelling, and marketing.

Over time, we are looking at emerging technology for cities like virtual reality, the Internet of Things and useful data sets our small consulting business – offering custom card decks as a way to help cities plan and govern using tech with a personal touch.

Support the campaign.

California seeks CIOs


California Chief Information Officer Carlos Ramos, San Jose CIO Vijay Sammeta and Los Angeles County CIO Richard Sanchez have recently announced they are stepping down from their positions.

Oakland announced it was seeking a CIO in October, but has yet to fill the vacancy left by Bryan M. Sastokas, who now services as Long Beach CIO and head of technology and innovation.

Of significant importance is the state CIO opening, and its convergence with evolving talk of establishing a government digital service team, much like what has been done in the United Kingdom and here in the United States with the U.S. Digital Service and 18F. It’s an ideal time for California to bring in someone more focused on open technologies, open data and a broader vision for non-private, cloud-based solutions.

U.S. government releases federal open source policy

Photo: U.S. Air Force

Photo: U.S. Air Force

The White House has published a federal source code policy that requires custom code paid for by the U.S. government be made available to all federal agencies, and a portion be released to the public.

“Covered agencies that enter into agreements for the development of software should require unlimited data rights in accordance with this policy,” says the policy.

As part of a pilot program, covered agencies are required to release at minimum 20 percent of custom developed code, and the Office of Management and Budget will release an impact assessment in 120 days.

According to the White House, the policy “does not require that existing custom-developed source code created by third party developers or vendors for the Federal Government be retroactively made available.”

Because the U.S. government spends so much on code development, this is a huge step forward for government-inspired technology innovation, and it will be interesting to see how much federal contractors push back on this policy, as most consider this to be their own intellectual property.

The full innovation and economics benefits of this policy will be realized once all code can be released to the public.

There is a 30-day public comment period (deadline April 11), and feedback can be submitted via the GitHub repo issues, a pull request or emailed to

GovReady wins $1.1M DHS contract to make security more open

GovReadyThe U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced it has awarded startup GovReady a $1.1M certification and accreditation contract that will be critical to bringing an open source approach to security.

“GovReady will develop tools to help developers through the C&A process and in doing so open the door for more secure, compliant and quality software systems,” said DHS announcing the award.

“The C&A process is essential, but, in its current state, unnecessarily difficult for small businesses to navigate,” said Homeland Open Security Technology Program Manager Dr. Dan Massey. “This project will help to even the playing field between large and small business by giving everyone an opportunity to provide software to the government.”

Full release

Feds want to build better digital ‘front doors’ to government

Federal Front Door


Borrowing from Code for America’s Digital Front Door project, the federal government is riffing on the concept so that it can better assist those seeking government services.

The Federal Front Door, “an initiative to improve public-government interactions across the board,” is led by USAGov and 18F, who have been interviewing Americans “about the good, the bad, and the ugly of interacting with their federal government.”

From GSA:

“This project won’t necessarily build new front doors; it’s about learning ways to improve our existing ones. We won’t be rolling out lots of new websites for interacting with the government, but instead we’ll be figuring out ways we can simplify, streamline, and improve people’s interactions with the current ones (especially ones that interact with multiple agencies).”

USAgov and 18F released a report (and methodology background) of its findings.

The gist of the findings:

“People want the government to treat them with respect. As they interact with various agencies, they want clear communication, insight into the processes they’re entering into, and the ability to quickly and easily access the information they need.”