Press Release: “Today the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School announced the launch of Data-Smart City Solutions, a new initiative aimed at using big data and analytics to transform the way local government operates. Bringing together leading industry, academic, and government officials, the initiative will offer city leaders a national depository of cases and best practice examples where cities and private partners use analytics to solve city problems. Data-Smart City Solutions is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Data-Smart City Solutions highlights best practices, curates resources, and supports cities embarking on new data projects. The initiative’s website contains feature-length articles on how data drives innovation in different policy areas, profile pieces on municipal leaders at the forefront of implementing data analytics in their cities, and resources for interested officials to begin data projects in their own communities.
Recent articles include an assessment of Boston’s Adopt-a-Hydrant program as a potential harbinger of future city work promoting civic engagement and infrastructure maintenance, and a feature on how predictive technology is transforming police work. The site also spotlights municipal use of data such as San Francisco’s efforts to integrate data from different social service departments to better identify and serve at-risk youth. In addition to visiting the initiative’s website, Data-Smart City Solutions’ work is chronicled in their newsletter as well as on their Twitter page.”
Cover and lead story of the 27th of July 1970 issue of Newsweek:
Martin Tisné, Director of Policy at Omidyar Network, in The Telegraph: “Trust in government has rarely been at a lower ebb. Citizens in developed and developing countries alike feel increasingly disconnected from the political process and their political leaders. They complain of having too little influence over decisions, too little access to government information and too little control over their own data.
In such an environment, suspicion and anger can erupt as we have seen across the world, most recently in Istanbul’s Taksim square.
At the same time, governments are operating in very challenging circumstances. They have to meet rising expectations from their citizens with, thanks to the impact of the global financial crisis, often severely reduced revenues. They also face a whole range of pressures which will make bridging this gap ever more difficult. There has never been a greater need for open and honest dialogue.
There is no single answer to these concerns. But it is clear that opening up government data must be a major element of the answer. Open data has enormous potential to drive economic growth and spread prosperity. It improves accountability, strengthens governance, builds trust and drives innovation in both the private sector and the delivery of key public services.
There are already many examples from around the world that these benefits are already being delivered. In the UK, Mastodon C
, a start-up incubated by the Open Data Institute
, used open data on prescriptions by GPs to show that the NHS could have saved over £200 million by prescribing generic drugs instead of their more expensive patented equivalents.
In India, the technology platform I Paid A Bribe enables citizens to publicly log whenever they have been shaken down for a bribe. In Mexico, Compara Tu Escuela (Check Your School) empowers parents by providing them directly with information on school performance.
We all benefit as citizens and consumers, as economies and societies, if we get this right. It is why the expected decision by the G8 countries to adopt an Open Data Charter at the G8 summit in Lough Erne is so important.”
Mark Surman in Mozilla Blog: “We’re excited to announce the launch of the Mozilla Science Lab, a new initiative that will help researchers around the world use the open web to shape science’s future.
Scientists created the web — but the open web still hasn’t transformed scientific practice to the same extent we’ve seen in other areas like media, education and business. For all of the incredible discoveries of the last century, science is still largely rooted in the “analog” age. Credit systems in science are still largely based around “papers,” for example, and as a result researchers are often discouraged from sharing, learning, reusing, and adopting the type of open and collaborative learning that the web makes possible.
The Science Lab will foster dialog between the open web community and researchers to tackle this challenge. Together they’ll share ideas, tools, and best practices for using next-generation web solutions to solve real problems in science, and explore ways to make research more agile and collaborative….
With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Mozilla Science Lab will start by convening a broad conversation about open web approaches and skills training, working with existing tool developers and supporting a global community of researchers.
Stay tuned for more about how you can join the conversation. In the mean time, you can:
Ethan Zuckerman in Slate: “As the historian and technology scholar Langdon Winner suggests, “The arrival of any new technology that has significant power and practical potential always brings with it a wave of visionary enthusiasm that anticipates the rise of a utopian social order.” Technologies that connect individuals to one another—like the airplane, the telegraph, and the radio—appear particularly powerful at helping us imagine a smaller, more connected world. Seen through this lens, the Internet’s underlying architecture—it is no more and no less than a network that connects networks—and the sheer amount written about it in the past decade guaranteed that the network would be placed at the center of visions for a world made better through connection. These visions are so abundant that they’ve even spawned a neologism: “cyberutopianism.”
The term “cyberutopian” tends to be used only in the context of critique. Calling someone a cyberutopian implies that he or she has an unrealistic and naïvely overinflated sense of what technology makes possible and an insufficient understanding of the forces that govern societies. Curiously, the commonly used term for an opposite stance, a belief that Internet technologies are weakening society, coarsening discourse, and hastening conflict is described with a less weighted term: “cyberskepticism.” Whether or not either of these terms adequately serves us in this debate, we should consider cyberutopianism’s appeal, and its merits….
If we reject the notion that technology makes certain changes inevitable, but accept that the aspirations of the “cyberutopians” are worthy ones, we are left with a challenge: How do we rewire the tools we’ve built to maximize our impact on an interconnected world? Accepting the shortcomings of the systems we’ve built as inevitable and unchangeable is lazy. As Benjamin Disraeli observed in Vivian Grey
, “Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creatures of men. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter.” And, as Rheingold suggests, believing that people can use technology to build a world that’s more just, fair, and inclusive isn’t merely defensible. It’s practically a moral imperative.
Excerpted from Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection by Ethan Zuckerman.”
Philip Howard in The Atlantic: “Everyone in Turkey can tell a story about how they turned on the TV hoping for news about current events, but found game shows, beauty pageants, and nature documentaries. Even Erdogan’s devotees know that the state-run news programs are grindingly uncritical. The pall of media control even has an impact on foreign broadcasters like CNN, which aired a penguin documentary within Turkey while its international broadcasters covered the clashes. Even when the country’s newspapers and broadcasters began reporting on the crisis, they spun the story as being violent and local to Istanbul. Another friend, who attended the protests on Saturday, said “you see misinformation on Twitter. But social media has played a corrective role to faults in the other available media.” On the days he joined in, he was part of peaceful demonstrations, and he found the Twitter streams telling stories about how the protests were country-wide and mostly nonviolent.
These days, Turks find themselves caught in the crossfire between highly politicized media organizations, so it is not surprising that when people want news they trust their own networks. The country has a dedicated community of startups designing apps, building games and generating content for the country’s rapidly growing population of internet and mobile phone users. Half of the country’s 75 million people are under 30. Half of Turkish citizens are online, and they are Facebook’s seventh largest national audience. Government ministers and strategists do have Twitter accounts, but they still tend to treat social media as a broadcast tool, a way of pushing their perspectives out to followers. Erdogan has a twitter account with more than 2.5 million followers, but recently opined that “This thing called social media is a curse on societies”….
This isn’t just happening in Turkey: In moments of political and military crisis, people want to control their media and connect with family and friends. And ruling elites respond by investing in broadcast media and censoring and surveilling digital networks. So the battles between political elites who use broadcast media and the activists who use digital media are raging in other parts of the world, as well.”
Steve Ressler in GovTech: “Although government 2.0 has been around since Bill Eggers’ 2005 book Government 2.0, the term truly took over in 2008. After President Barack Obama’s 2008 election, his first memorandum in office was the Open Government Directive with its three pillars of creating a more transparent, participatory and collaborative government. This framework quickly spread from federal government down to state and local government and across the nation.
So fast-forward five years and let’s ask what have we learned.
1. It’s about mission problems…
2. It’s about sustainability…
3. It’s about human capital…
4. It’s not static…
5. It’s more than open data…
Overall, a lot of progress has been made in five years. Besides the items above, it’s a cultural and mindset shift that we are seeing grow throughout government each year. Individuals and agencies are focusing on how to make important systemic change with new technology and approaches to improve government”
Open Data Institute: “The Information Economy Strategy sets out a range of key actions, including:
- Digitally transforming 25 of the top 50 UK public services over the next 300 days, including plans to give businesses a single, online view of their tax records
- Launching a new programme to help 1.6 million SMEs scale up their business online over the next five years.
- Publishing a data capability strategy in October 2013, developed in partnership with government, industry and academia. The strategy will build on the recommendations in Stephan Shakespeare’s review of Public Sector Information and the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology’s report on algorithms, and will be published alongside the Open Government Partnership National Action Plan.
- Establishing the world’s first facility for testing state of the art 5G mobile technology, working with industry and the University of Surrey.”
Kevin Merritt, the founder and CEO of Socrata, in Next Gov: ….a new movement, spurred by digital and social activism, is taking root to renovate and redefine the public sector.
This movement is based on democratizing the vast treasure trove of data that governments have accumulated over the years, transparently releasing it so citizens and companies can drive meaningful change and solve problems that government, on its own, cannot solve…. This emerging digital collaboration between the public sector and scores of entrepreneurs across the nation has the potential to profoundly transform the role of government….
As a software entrepreneur, I see open data as the transformation of governments from monolithic service providers to open innovation platforms, fueled by data. This shift may hold the answers to some age-old problems in government, like chronic inefficiency and a citizen experience that’s out of step with the modern consumer era.
“This is the right way to frame the question of Government 2.0,” explains O’Reilly, a leading open data advocate. “How does government become an open platform that allows people inside and outside government to innovate? How do you design a system in which all of the outcomes aren’t specified beforehand, but, instead, evolve through interactions between government and its citizens, as a service provider enabling its user community?”
The answers to these questions are still taking shape; but one thing we do know is that the strategic use of data is clearly re-defining government’s role in the 21st century.