Localocracy

Is AOL-Huffington Post making a gov 2.0 play?

Huffington Post Media Group, owned by AOL, announced it has purchased civic platform Localocracy for “under $1 million,” according to AllThingsD.

According to the site, founded in 2009, Localocracy is an “online town common where registered voters using real names can weigh in on local issues.” It appears the platform is no longer accessible, but the press release announcing the acquisition gives some insight into how it might be integrated into Huffington Post:

At HPMG, founders White-Sullivan and Soules will build on their innovative approach to enhancing local democracy while leveraging HPMG’s powerful online community platform to engage its large and networked audience. Also joining the Group from Localocracy is Jay Boice, who will be instrumental in building new technologies to support enhanced online community interaction.

The Localocracy purchase may be the first sign that AOL and Huffington Post are eying government 2.0 technologies to build on their ecosystem of active users and leverage content in new ways to engage them in a more civic-minded manner.

Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington discussed government 2.0 at FedScoop’s FedTalks 2010 (video below), where she emphasized local and the power of civic technology. It’s clear from her talk she’s interested in and gets transparency, open government and the concept of government as a platform.

At FedTalks, Huffington praised crowdsourcing 311 platform SeeClickFix, and late last year, her site honored founder Ben Berkowitz as a Greatest Person of the Day. Given the Localocracy acquisition and Huffington’s interest in this area, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if SeeClickFix is next on her list. SeeClickFix’s focus on local and social, providing technology that leverages the crowd to help government prioritize service requests, make it a natural fit for Huffington Post (or perhaps even AOL’s hyper-local news platform Patch, as O’Reilly Media’s Alex Howard suggested related to the Localocracy acquisition).

From her FedTalks speech:

“As I found myself pessimistic, like many of us, about the crisis and the confidence, about the crisis in government, about the demonization of government, I look around and see the incredible unleashing of creativity, innovation and caring, and that’s where I see the promise, and that’s where I see the hope.”

For those watching for the new new thing in gov 2.0, AOL and Huffington Post might just be it.

Video:

10 entrepreneurs changing the way government works

I recently began reading The Power of Social Innovation: How Civic Entrepreneurs Ignite Community Networks for Good and felt compelled to highlight more people building business models around better government. The role of business and the entrepreneurial spirit as it relates to government is at times under-played or discredited (sometimes, rightfully so), but it’s the backbone of a democratic society.

Consider this the first in a series. For starters, here are 10 entrepreneurs changing the way government works:

Goldy Kamali


What we do:

FedScoop is a New Media and Events company serving key decision makers in the government IT community. We bring C-level executives from the federal government and IT community together via VIP events, video interviews and articles and blogs to collaborate, exchange best practices and identify ways to work together to solve common goals.

Richard White


What we do:

UserVoice helps all types of organizations involved in government reach out to their constituents. Here are a few examples:

Political Campaigns – Inform your platform; uncover grassroots interest.

Civic Engagement – Leveraging the wisdom of the crowd to improve government.

Internal Brainstorming – Tap the collective knowledge inside your organization to improve government.

Michael Riedijk

  • CEO, DotGov
  • Founded: November 2009
  • @dotgovcom
  • Open gov motto: Put your government in your pocket

What we do:

DotGov, Inc., is developing a mobile platform that will dramatically change how citizens interact with their local government. DotGov combines the power of Mobile Devices with Social Media and Open Data. It provides citizens with tools to directly interact with their city and benefit from all information and services local governments offer in an unprecedented way.

Conor White-Sullivan & Aaron Soules

  • CEO/Co-founder (left)/CTO/Co-founder (right), Localocracy
  • Founded: September 2008
  • @Localocracy
  • Open gov motto: All politics is Local

What we do:

Localocracy partners with local government and media to help citizens learn about local issues and influence their community. We confirm that participants are registered voters in the community and provide a space where they can ask questions, vote on issues, and rank the best reasons for supporting their side.

Kevin Merritt


What we do:

Socrata is a socially enriched data-sharing platform optimized for data comprehension by non-technically trained audiences, without excluding technical audiences. Socrata empowers organizations to transform their data assets into hubs for social and civic engagement and interaction, on their own websites and also in mainstream media websites and social media sites.

Ben Berkowitz


What we do:

SeeClickFix is an international tool enabled in 83 languages that allows citizens to report non-emergency issues such as potholes, graffiti or a littered parks to those accountable for the public space including local governments and community groups. SeeClickFix is available via the web where you can post issues and have your neighbors comment or vote on their resolution. Anybody can receive alerts via easy to create free-formed geographical alerting areas that we call watch areas. Also, If you have a blackberry, android or iPhone you can download our app and report a problem in your community with your gps location and a photo. 40% of the issues on SeeClickFix have already been fixed. From Argentina to Philadelphia citizens are using SeeClickFix to improve their communities.

Kurt Daradics


What we do:

FreedomSpeaks is a technology company focused on delivering interactive civic engagement platforms. Our mission is to transform civic engagement.

Our Core Values are shaping our culture and defining the character of our company, guiding how we behave and make decisions:

Stewardship: Building a heritage for future generations, acting with an owner mentality, and meeting our commitments to all internal and external stakeholders.
Best People: Attracting and developing the best talent for our business, stretching our people and developing a “can do” attitude.
Integrity: Inspiring trust by taking responsibility, acting ethically, and encouraging honest and open debate.

We deliver an interlocking product suite that includes:

  • FreedomSpeaks.com (The first non-partisan political social network & largest database of politicians)
  • FreedomSpeaks Pro (Lobby in a box SaaS product)
  • CitySourced (Mobile civic engagement platform)

Alan W. Silberberg

  • Co-Founder, You2Gov
  • Founded: April 2008
  • @You2Gov
  • Open gov motto: Don’t Be Afraid

What we do:

Path-breaking Gov 2.0 company that innovates and creates Government 2.0 + 3.0 Technology using custom Joomla based Social Networking/ SCRM and Advocacy. Consulting to Federal, State, Local Governments; International Corporations on: best media use; technology weaving to create maximum impact websites, tools, videos and conversations at highest strategic level.

Zubin Wadia


What we do:

CiviGuard is the world’s most advanced civilian emergency communications platform. It promotes contextual messaging over information saturation. CiviGuard is location-aware, smartphone optimized and cloud-based – making near real-time civilian outreach during a crisis, a reality.