Ines Mergel asks a great question about a government 2.0 icon emblematic of the potential local open government had in its nascent heyday way back two years ago.
My name is Dustin Haisler and I’m the Assistant City Manager and Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the City of Manor, Texas. Manor is a small community, located just east of Austin, of approximately 6,500 citizens. More recently, Manor has received a lot press for some of our innovative projects; such as our QR-code program, citizen idea portal, and pothole reporting system. In fact, we are in such a state of continuous improvement that we even added the word ‘beta’ to our city logo.
E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful neatly summarizes my beliefs on how society should work and provides the most appropriate slogan for the way I approach much of my life.
‘Small is beautiful’ best describes manor.govfresh, held this past Sept 20-21, in Manor, TX, and exemplifies where I believe we can have the most impact on changing how government works and where the open government community should turn its focus. The theme around manor.govfresh was government and technology, but the underlying premise was learning how we can strengthen community at its most local. So much is discussed at the federal, state and major metropolitan levels that we see small-town America as an after-thought. It’s not sexy, but it’s where change can happen faster and have a more immediate impact on citizens.
Manor, Texas has received lots of recognition for the innovative technologies that have come out of it, but many people donâ€™t know all the individuals that are responsible. My role as Assistant City Manager and CIO is to steer the development of emerging technologies in Manor, but the real hero is our City Manager, Phil Tate.
In the spirit of innovation, we are happy to announce the launch of the City of Manor in open beta. Manor launched in alpha in March of 1913, and has been operating as such for the last 97 years.
What does open beta mean?
Idea management software developer Spigit announced the launch of CitizenSpigit, ‘a platform that enables government agencies to engage citizens and employees to improve efficiency and operations, as well as to generate actionable ideas.’ The City of Manor, Texas, is the first municipality to deploy the platform, which it uses to power Manor Labs.
What missing from Gov 2.0?
The answer: Education.
Like most agencies, we have done a significant amount of research at the City of Manor to determine how we could best use new technologies to interact and engage our citizens. In the process, we have discovered that there is one element that is quite often overlooked within the Gov 2.0 movement- education. Citizen and employee education is critical to the adoption of new technologies because the technology will not be used if it is misunderstood.
We’re taking a poll on what dates work best for you on our manor.govfresh event.
When GovFresh first started, I got an email from Dustin Haisler, CIO of Manor, TX, who shared with me all the work they were doing there. At that point in time, I was new to ‘Gov 2.0’ and what could be considered ‘government innovation.’ I was skeptical. I never really thought government could innovate itself out of a paper bag. To think a small-town Texas could do it was completely laughable.
Was this guy for real?
The open government movement has spurred lots of interest in agencies becoming more transparent to citizens. As a result, most federal agencies have launched â€œopenâ€ pages that allow anyone to submit ideas for their agencies.
While we laud these efforts as a good first step, there is more that needs to be done in order for these initiatives to reach their full potential.
A few months ago, I came up with a plan to understand our city operations and processes on a much more detailed level. After watching Undercover Boss last night on CBS, I thought I would share it with others, so that it might inspire you to do the same (no, Iâ€™m not going undercover).
The City of Manorâ€™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.
It seems like today so many agencies are plagued by the expenses of online web development and associated hosting. Manor was no different. Smaller agencies pay thousands of dollars to private companies to developed attractive websites that can be done at a fraction of the cost.
After discussing my frustrations with Luke Fretwell, the founder of GovFresh, he had a solution that would not only work for Manor, but many other cities as well. His idea was to build the entire site on Wordpress, which is an open-source blog publishing application, with full-social media integration. I knew of Wordpress, and had even used it for my personal blog, but have never thought of using it for a government site outside of a traditional blog.
Manor, TX: Local Government Innovation: Guest Dustin Haisler, CIO of Manor, Texas, discusses Manor Labs and local government innovation. Laurel Ruma of O’Reilly Media will also join us at the top of the hour.
Here’s what open government and Gov 2.0 leaders are saying about the new White House Open Government Directive.
Here’s a quick video explaining Manor Labs and our approach to open innovation.
The City of Manor’s open innovation platform, Manor Labs, is featured on the White House’s Open Government Initiative blog (Open Government Laboratories of Democracy).
Innovation is possible even in small cities with very small budgets. I hope that we can work with more cities to innovate new solutions for the public-sector.
Just as the federal government is using online brainstorming with government employees and the public to generate ideas for saving money or going green, state and local governments are also using new technology to tap peopleâ€™s intelligence and expertise. The City of Manor, Texas (pop. 5800) has launched â€œManor Labs,â€ an innovation marketplace for improving city services. A participant can sign up to suggest â€œideas and solutionsâ€ for the police department, the municipal court, and everything in between. Each participantâ€™s suggestion is ranked and rewarded with â€œinnobucks.â€ These points can be redeemed for prizes: a million points wins â€œmayor for the dayâ€ while 400,000 points can be traded for a ride-along with the Chief of Police.
We’re excited to announce Manor 2.0: Live Government Innovation From Small-Town Texas, a City of Manor, TX, and GovFresh collaboration.
Manor 2.0 will document our Gov 2.0 efforts, including our innovation initiative, Manor Labs. Our goal is to share, collaborate and connect with local governments like ours who want to leverage innovative technologies to better serve its citizens.
Tune in to http://manor.govfresh.com and join us on our Gov 2.0 journey.
On October 27, 2009, the City of Manor, Texas launched a new effort to crowdsource innovation in an effort called Manor Labs.
Manor Labs is a platform that allows individuals the mechanism to contribute new ideas and solutions for existing problems. Instead of constricting the innovation process to just agency employees, the City of Manor allows anyone to participate regardless of where they live. The benefit to the end-user is that they are rewarded with â€œInnobucksâ€ for their participation in the innovation process. These â€œInnobucksâ€ can be traded in for real products donated by local companies and partners, which provides users a tangible benefit for their participation.
QR-codes are two dimensional barcodes that can be generated for free and subsequently decoded for free on most newer model camera phones. When I first learned of QR-codes I quickly realized the amazing potential they had, however, I was unaware of the significant impact they would have on my own organization.