Gov 2.0 Radio

Open government keeps its heart in San Francisco with (second) CityCampSF

CityCampSF 2011

Adriel HamptonSan Francisco will hold its second CityCamp, CityCampSF 2011, this Saturday, June 18, and include municipal employees, journalists, developers and neighborhood leaders “working on solutions for better communities and government.” The event is hosted by SF Department of Technology.

We asked CityCampSF founder and organizer (and Gov 2.0 Radio host) Adriel Hampton to discuss its objectives and goals and share his thoughts on the state of San Francisco open government.

What is CityCampSF? Who should attend? What will be the takeaway?

CityCampSF is an unconference focused on innovation for municipal governments and community organizations. As an unconference, content for CityCampSF is created and organized by participants and coordinated by facilitators. Participants are expected to play active roles in sessions. This provides an excellent format for creative, open exchange geared toward action. CityCamps have been held in several U.S. and UK cities, including Chicago, Colorado, Raleigh and London. The first CityCampSF was held last October.

The target audience for the event is Bay Area city officials, journalists, local creatives and community leaders. Attendees can expect to walk away with a wide range of outcomes, based on the level of experience and knowledge they bring to the event.

For example, I’ll be working at the event with Javier Muniz from Granicus on finalizing core development aspects of the SF Fire App initiative, and volunteers will be doing in-person outreach around the City to increase awareness of the need for public AEDs to reduce sudden cardiac arrest deaths. Last week at CityCamp Raleigh, one North Carolina state official began the day upset that community members were complaining about missing data from the state, and by the end of the day she was working with a team of folks on making the state’s data more accessible. Within 24 hours they had a working open data project live on the new That’s what CityCamps do.

What’s your take on the state of open government in San Francisco? What aspects are thriving or need more focus?

Open government as civic tech innovation is very strong in San Francisco, however, there are plenty of areas for growth. I’d love to see the City incorporate commenting streams into its public meeting webcasts, for example. That’s a feature that the City’s streaming media provider offers, it’s just a matter of the will to do it. I recently wrote for sf.govfresh about some of the things the City does well where it could take things to the next level. The City could take its vibrant official Twitter use to the next level through improved integration with official City websites and listening campaigns aimed at identifying and responding to public concerns. It would also be great if the City provided a stream that aggregated trusted content from the many niche Twitter IDs covering city services. I’ve also offered to put together a free half-day social media best-practices and risk management session for government social media, and I think that’s something the City really needs. Some of those topics will be discussed at CityCamp, I’m sure.

The City might also consider allowing direct access to expert staff through Facebook, similar to the efforts of the U.S. Geographical Survey. In terms of open data innovation, the City really needs to get more proactive at identifying and releasing new datasets on Citycampers might be able to help there through things like informal interviews with departments to help them identify data that would be useful to developers. I’d also like to see legislation for giving more authority to the City CIO, who in terms of enumerated authority right now is more of a figurehead than a citywide IT leader.

What are your long-term goals for CityCampSF, and how will it cultivate a sustainable open government movement in San Francisco?

Long-term, CityCampSF should be the event that brings together people new to the open government movement with mature leaders in the field to learn and collaborate. It should help government officials quickly get up to speed on civic tech issues and it should be the place where tough municipal challenges are matched with solutions. CityCampSF is also moving to sponsor related events by partners throughout the Bay Area, such as Code for Oakland, GAFFTA’s Summer of Smart innovation series, and the monthly Third Thursdays civic tech meetup to ensure that the community of leaders brought together by the unconference is sustained and grows between big events.

Register for CityCampSF and follow on Twitter at @CityCampSF.

Social media, local gov and the National Association of Government Webmasters

Gov 2.0 Radio discusses social media and local government with Morris County, NJ, Web Manager Carol Spencer, treasurer of the National Association of Government Webmasters. A veteran of IBM, Spencer calls social media the biggest revolution in technology since the personal computer. On government agencies blocking social media, she says, “You’re blocking access to the way people live.”



Open gov, Gov 2.0 leaders react to White House Open Government Directive

Here’s what open government and Gov 2.0 leaders are saying about the new White House Open Government Directive.

What’s your take?

Carl Malamud, Public.Resource.Org (@CarlMalamud)

Carl Malamud

“This is great. No equivocating, vacillating, hemming, or hawing. This is all good, big thumbs up to the folks that made this happen.”

Ellen Miller, Sunlight Foundation (@EllnMllr)

Ellen Miller

“The Open Government Directive demonstrates how the Obama administration is matching its aspirational goals with concrete policies and accountability measures. I expect it will create a sea change in how the government and public interact, what information we as citizens have at our fingertips, and that it will redefine that public information means that its online. It’s going to be up to all of us to participate and monitor how well government meets these goals.”

Craig Newmark, Craigslist (@craignewmark)

Craig Newmark

“The Open Government Initiative is a huge commitment to:

  • listening to all Americans, hearing what they have to say
  • telling people what’s going on in government, like where the money goes

The results will create effective large-scale grassroots democracy and far greater fiscal responsibility.

I feel that these efforts are complementary to the adoption of the US Consititution.”

Chris Vein, City and County of San Francisco (@Veinesque)

Chris Vein

The President’s Directive is a tremendous step forward. It not only further explains the President’s vision, but it provides an aggressive roadmap and timeline for getting Federal, State and local governments to improve transparency, increase participation and collaboration. San Francisco is proud to have responded early to the President’s call for open government with our Open Data Directive and DataSF initiatives. The President’s Directive will help San Francisco improve and extend our goal of a more transparent and open City.

Dustin Haisler, City of Manor, TX (@dustinhaisler)

Dustin Haisler

“The Open Government Directive is a great starting point for the open-gov movement in the federal government; however, one thing to consider is whether open data is truly “usable” data for our constituents. Instead of just putting datasets online for mashup artists, we should also focus on the interface our citizens will use to get the information. In addition, multi-agency collaboration starting on the local level will be a very important key to the overall initiative’s success. Overall, I think the directive is good move in the right direction for the federal government.”

Peter Corbett, iStrategyLabs (@corbett3000)

Peter Corbett

“We’ve all been eagerly awaiting the OGD and it’s not a let down by any stretch. It will lend support and clarification to what is a complex issue for our government: how to become more open, transparent and participatory. What we’re seeing here is the innovative use of technology and smart policy to unleash the talent of the American people. I’m most excited about how the work we’ve done on Apps for Democracy will soon be institutionalized throughout federal agencies when OMB releases guidance for how to use challenges, prizes and other incentives for stimulating citizen driven innovation.”

Andrew Wilson, Health & Human Services (@AndrewPWilson)

Andrew Wilson

“This directive represents a significant step toward the president’s goals of transparency, public participation and collaboration. One element that I would like to see emphasized as part of the implementation is a concerted, systemic effort to improve the tools government employees have available to collaborate internally. For me, improved internal collaboration is an essential element to developing the framework for a more fully engaged and responsive government. Imagine a world where cross-departmental information flow was so robust that citizens could interact with ANY agency on ANY issue and could get a timely, complete and helpful response.”

Steve Ressler, GovLoop (@govloop)

Steve Ressler

“Open Government Directive is a great first step in the open gov/Gov 2.0 movement. While the data and transparency piece is important, I’m most interested in how agencies create their own open gov plans and what actions they take from their planning exercise. I believe most of the movement for open gov starts when it is done at the agency level and solving true mission needs.”

Clay Johnson, Sunlight Labs (@cjoh)

Clay Johnson

“This is a great and ambitious plan that’s particularly challenging in terms of both logistics and technology. It is the equivalent of the “putting a man on the moon” of the Transparency movement in the federal government. Challenging, awe-inspiring and risky.”

Adriel Hampton, Gov 2.0 Radio (@adrielhampton)

Adriel Hampton

“I am concerned that some may use the document and its compliance deadlines as a simple checklist. However, as did the president’s January open government memo, this document empowers the growing ranks of Gov 2.0 innovators. Its guidance on data release and standards is also valuable and needed.”

Steve Lunceford, GovTwit (@dslunceford)

Steve Lunceford

“I think this is a great step to formalize a process and “movement” that has already been spreading throughout government. I would have like to have seen more guidance around transparency, participation and collaboration from an interagency standpoint versus just citizen interaction, but believe that could be a natural output as agencies strive to meet the various deadlines. It will also be interesting to see how quickly and enthusiastically agencies respond to a directive which lays out new unfunded mandates given the many priorities they are already juggling.”

Bob Gourley, CTOvision (@bobgourley)

Bob Gourley

The most important part of the directive, in my opinion, is the attachment with guidance on plan formulation. The thought put into that means agencies do not have to recreate the wheel when formulating their own plan. The part of the directive that we all need to watch out for abuse on: it seems to apply to all other than OMB and above. Yet history has shown those are the ones we need the most openness from.

Brian Ahier (@ahier)

Brian Ahier

“I am thrilled to see the emphasis on open government this directive represents. I hope to see government agencies able to meet the deadlines for action established by the Open Government Directive. I also want to see citizen participation in determining the high value data sets to be published. Since this directive also requires the data be published in an open format, it will be nice to have documents available where the data is not shielded within the pdf format.”