Routesy founder talks open data, gives advice to civic developers and government

Routesy is a public transit iPhone app built on DataSF open data that includes real-time schedule information for San Francisco Muni, BART, Caltrain and AC Transit. GovFreshTV talked with founder and developer Steven Peterson about his experiences creating the app and asked him to share his advice to civic developers and government.

Peterson answers the following questions:

  • What is Routesy?
  • What challenges did you face developing Routesy?
  • What advice do you have for civic developers?
  • What open data advice do you have for government?

Full interview:

Advice to developers:

“Take advantage of the large amount of data that’s actually available from the city and other public sources. There are a lot of great things that haven’t been built yet and really a lot of opportunities to take that public domain stuff and make it into something really useful. I would also advise developers to actively talk to people in government and to let them know what data they want available that’s not available and to make sure everything’s working the way it’s supposed to and to have a good relationship with those public officials.”

Advice to government:

“Government really should be working with developers to figure out what formats they can provide data in in order for developers to create the best products possible. They should also continue to just be open and publish as much data as possible, because that’s really where the innovation and technology around that data is going to come from.”

Download Routesy on iTunes or connect on Facebook and Twitter.

SF CIO Vein discusses open government, open data, municipal innovation

I had the opportunity to sit down with San Francisco Chief Information Officer Chris Vein during sf.govfresh and ask him about his work around open government, open data and government innovation. What resonates most with me is how he touches on the importance of a partnership between mayor and CIO and SF Mayor Gavin Newsom’s willingness to let him ‘fail forward.’

We’d see more government innovation if leaders were like Newsom and let their staff experiment with technology, especially open source and free Web-based tools where the cost to taxpayers is minimal at best.

Here’s the full interview:

Red Hat lead architect on open source software in government

During Transparency Camp a few weeks ago, I sat down with Red Hat Lead Architect Gunnar Hellekson and asked him the following questions around open source in government:

  • What’s the value of open source software to government?
  • What are the hurdles in implementing open source software in government?
  • What can be done to make implementing open source projects in government easier?
  • What’s the state of open source in government and its future?

Whiteboard Innovation: How Manor Ideas Become Solutions

The City of Manor’s open innovation portal, Manor Labs, has been live for a few months turning ideas into solutions. When talking with other cities, I find that the entire concept of open innovation is a bit misunderstood. It is very easy to put up a voting platform to rate ideas, but what happens afterwards? With Manor Labs, powered by the Spigit open innovation engine, the system is user-driven and self-sufficient. This allows our small agency the ability to process large quantities of ideas with limit staff involvement.

Here’s a breakdown of idea stages and functions:

1. Incubation: When an idea is submitted it falls into this stage until it meets the required voting, page view and buzz needed to advance to the next stage.

2. Validation: Ideas that meet voting, page view and buzz requirements automatically fall into this stage. In this stage, a department head will submit a review each idea, and based upon the combination of citizen and departmental feedback, the idea may drop into the next category. If department decides that the idea does not contain enough information to proceed, they can move the idea back to incubation stage and request more information before proceeding.

3. Emergence: In this stage, ideas are reviewed by the Manor Innovation Team (MIT), which is composed of all city department heads. The team reviews each idea on a series of metrics and determine whether to implement or abort the idea. Ideas can also be piloted from this stage before they are fully implemented.

4. Closed: Ideas that fall into this stage are either implemented or aborted. If they are implemented, the idea creator is awarded and more information about how to use or signup for the new solution is posted online. If the idea is aborted, the idea creator receives an open response with reasoning why the idea cannot be implemented.

For more information about Manor Labs or to signup for an account to participate, please visit

Local beat: Crowdfunding community journalism

Spot.Us is a nonprofit effort from the Center for Media Change that supports community-funded investigative reporting. Citizens recommend and fund local news stories, which are then written by participating journalists and published on the site. Contributions are tax deductible and re-imbursed if a news organization buys exclusive rights to the content. The group currently operates ‘beats’ in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Founder David Cohn shared his vision with GovFreshTV:

Spot.Us video demo:

Spot.Us is funded in part by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Full Circle Fund, and the Charles Schwab Charitable Trust. More about Spot.Us.