Despite the fact that millions of websites around the world today are powered by low- and no-cost open source content management systems, nearly all small city governments remain trapped in the 90s. To date, however, this need hasn’t adequately been served, and we need to change this. We can change this.
Finally finished reading Jason Hibbets’ “The Foundation for an Open Source City,” a must-read for anyone interested in building a strong civic community, whether you’re an elected official, public servant or citizen.
The White House will soon open a limited beta test to developers on a new We the People Write API that allows third-party applications to submit information to official petitions.
Over the past few years, the civic innovation movement has grown tremendously. It’s exploded really. Ten years ago, who would have imagined that Chicago would be a national leader in open government data?
A new We the People petition opened Sunday calling for the federal government to make the healthcare.gov source code publicly available “so we may help fix any found issues.”
A wrap-up of this week’s civic technology and open government news.
Regardless of what’s happening between the opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, why is America in this situation, and what can we do to ensure it never happens again?
Lee announced the city posted municipal code on GitHub “to make it more accessible to our public.”
Jason Hibbetts is a great guy and a true leader in the open government community, and he is asking for your support in helping fund the first 500 copies of his upcoming book, “The Foundation for an Open Source City.”
Weekly wrap-up of civic news.
Piwik creator Matthieu Aubry shares how the open source real time web analytics tool may be a viable option for government.
Great Clay Shirky TED Talk on how distributed version control and “having access to all the source code all of the time” will one day change the way government works.
For those of you interested in starting or joining the civic technology movement where you live, watch Code for America Brigade program director Kevin Curry discuss how designers and developers are doing just this everywhere across the United States.
Open Source Digital Voting Foundation’s John Sebes writes about watching new citizens complete voter registration application forms and the associated usability issues, especially for older, less tech-savvy demographic.
I’ve been collecting links (below) from the UK’s Government Digital Service blog for a while wondering when they’ll stop executing their great “beta” work on GOV.UK, but they continue to outdo themselves.
Since 2008, there has been a wave of voting law changes that impose barriers to the ballot box. Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a veteran of “Bloody Sunday,” called the new laws “the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act.”
The right to vote is being chiseled away by voter ID laws that require voters to show government-issued photo ID in order to vote.
In December, the Department of Justice blocked South Carolina’s voter ID law on the grounds it would make it harder for minorities to vote in violation of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Mississippi and Texas voting ID laws also must be pre-cleared but Texas is not waiting. The Lone Star State filed a federal lawsuit in an effort to speed up a decision.
Strict photo ID requirements will be in place in at least five states – Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Tennessee and Wisconsin — In November. With Election Day less than nine months away, voters without an official photo ID cannot wait for the challenges to play out at the Justice Department and in the courts.
In Wisconsin, for instance, voters must navigate “The 4 Proofs.”
I am a founding member of the Election Protection Coalition. Still, looking at the infographic makes my head hurt. More worrisome, it discourages voters from completing the application process. So I presented the problem of TMI (read: disenfranchisement by design) at Random Hacks of Kindness and the Hackathon for Social Good. Citizen programmers developed solutions to quickly provide voters with information on how to get a voter ID.
Users in Wisconsin can forget about “The 4 Proofs.” Instead, in four clicks or less, they will be able to access information about the state’s voter ID requirements, how to obtain a certified copy of their birth certificate (the document that’s typically produced to establish one’s identity), and the location, hours and directions to the Office of Vital Records using public transit.
I also gave a live demo of the Cost of Freedom text-based app developed by Jack Aboutboul, Twilio’s API Evangelist. Twilio is making an in-contribution of text message services to promote voter education.
To commemorate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we plan to launch the Cost of Freedom App on April 4, 2012.
I will post regular updates about the Cost of Freedom Project and other initiatives that are using civic innovation to protect the right to vote. The conversation about voter ID also gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about disruptive technologies in the public sector beyond election administration.
We’ve heard a lot about Drupal and WordPress in government, but not much about the open source platform Joomla. We asked Joomla External Communications Lead Sandra Ordonez to share how government is using it, its key features, how it compares to Drupal and WordPress and what governments are using it.
As I mentioned in my 2012 civic commitment post, I’m focused on helping drastically lower the cost, de-mystify the technology and build better websites for local government.
Hacking Democracy, released in 2007, documents the improprieties and lack of security around proprietary voting software vendor Diebold Elections Systems.
Civic Commons Director Nick Grossman and 2011 Code for America Fellow Jeremy Canfield give an overview of the new Civic Commons Marketplace, a repository and apps showcase for open source civic and government development projects.
San Francisco Director of Innovation Jay Nath’s TEDxSoMa talk from earlier this year:
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.
Memphis announced it will develop its new website using the open source platform Drupal and OpenPublic. Mediacurrent, Linx Consulting and Phase2 Technology will collaborate on the project.
The British government’s Cabinet Office has published an Open Source Procurement Toolkit as part of its ongoing information and communications strategy.
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.
O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard interviewed San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee this week at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. Lee discusses open source, open data, apps, mobile and bridging the digital divide.
The next iteration of Georgia.gov will be built using the open source platform Drupal.
The civic hackathon – a gathering (either virtual or physical) of technologists for a few days or weeks to build civic-themed software – remains one of the more durable manifestations of the open government movement.