The April issue of Governing magazine features Jen Pahlka of Code for America: “One of the things I love about Silicon Valley is the experimentation and willingness to play around,” says Pahlka. “That is wonderful, but sometimes becomes trivialization. As a society we can’t afford to have some of our brightest minds working on trivial things like, you know, Facebook apps.”…Pahlka’s vision for the group was essentially that by taking start-up values to government, “this thing that works” (Silicon Valley) would “fix this thing that doesn’t” (government). She quickly concluded that idea was wrong….What was broken, though, was the relationship between government and the citizenry. “That’s a problem on both sides,” Pahlka says.
Governing Magazine: “Inviting public comment early in the budget process, and doing so in multiple ways, is closely associated with better performance outcomes, according to a new study in The American Review of Public Administration.
State and local government meetings, from a state agency to a county board, are notoriously low in attendance. Some governments have reacted with experiments to spur better public involvement, especially in drafting budgets. … Despite this patchwork of efforts to involve citizens, public administrators still don’t know exactly when to seek public input and how it might affect the day-to-day work of governing. So Hai Guo and Milena Neshkova, both assistant professors in the Department of Public Administration at Florida International University, set out to study the relationship between citizen participation in budgeting and measurable performance outcomes. Their analysis relied on 2005 survey data on state transportation agencies and their civic engagement strategies (focus groups, for example) across four stages in the budget process.
Because their research focused solely on transportation agencies, they looked at transportation-related outcomes that governments value: fewer road-related fatalities and fewer poor-quality roads. They took into account external factors, such as level of funding, that might account for differences in fatality rates or road conditions. They found that not only is there an inverse relationship (more attempts at civic engagement mean fewer fatalities and low-quality roads), but that the relationship is statistically significant. In other words, the result isn’t due to chance.
More importantly, the association was strongest at the earliest stage in the process. “You need to engage them early. I think that’s the point we’re trying to make,” Prof. Guo said. Since the analysis was specific to state transportation departments, Prof. Guo says he’d like to see if the same pattern would emerge at other levels of government.”
BPC Press Release: “Today, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), Heritage Provider Network (HPN), and The Advisory Board Company launched the Care Transformation Prize Series, a national contest to address the most daunting data problems U.S. health care organizations face as they implement new delivery system and payment reforms.
The goal of this big data challenge is to help health care organizations more effectively use data to drive improvements in health care cost and quality. The series was announced at a BPC-hosted event today that featured a forward-thinking discussion on the strategies that providers, health plans, and states are using to harness data to help Americans lower their health care costs and improve care.”
Peter Vanham in the FT’s Beyond Brics blog: “Don’t let success stories like M-Pesa in Kenya fool you: the worldwide digital divide is still increasing and Africa remains the biggest victim.” So says Soumitra Dutta, Dean of Cornells’ Johnson School of Management, talking to beyondbrics at the launch of the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2013.
M-Pesa, the highly successful mobile payments service in Kenya, has attracted global attention. Used by the vast majority of Kenyans, M-Pesa is so successful that, according to Quartz, a massive 31 per cent of Kenya’s GDP is spent through mobile phones.
It was proof that technological progress could happen in low-income countries with poor infrastructure. It has been copied in other emerging markets, leading some to believe the so-called digital divide between the developed and the developing world was ready to fall.
But the opposite is true, says the Indian born Dutta, a founding author of the WEF’s IT report….
To support his claim, Dutta refers to the latest available data on access to different mobile technologies (see graph – click to enlarge).”:
Mapping of content production presented by Felix Salmon in CJR:
Jay Rosen asks, reasonably, that people start drawing useful distinctions between buzzy terms like content marketing, sponsored content, native advertising, and even brand journalism. Here’s my stab at it:
Zach Miners in ComputerWorld: “Twitter users reacted fast to the explosions that ripped through the Boston Marathon Monday, but the incident also revealed how social media can only be so reliable in such situations. Twitter spread news of the blasts quickly and was a useful communications tool for public authorities such as the Boston police and the marathon organizers. But information on social media sites can also be questionable or just plain inaccurate, noted Greg Sterling, senior analyst with Opus Research…
The Boston Police Department’s Twitter log showed a positive side of social media. It was updated minute by minute in the aftermath of the bombings, often with instructions about which areas to avoid, or information about where the most police officers might be stationed.
There was also misinformation, however. A report was circulated quickly on Twitter that police had shut down cellphone service in Boston to prevent detonation of further blasts, though it ultimately turned out to be inaccurate, according to network operators.
Others had nefarious intentions. At one point, a Twitter account with the handle @_BostonMarathon was promising to donate US$1 to victims of the blast for every one of its tweets that was retweeted. Users soon called it out as a fake, noting the real Twitter account for the Boston Marathon was @BostonMarathon.”
See also: Google’s Person Finder
Machine-to-Machine Communications – Connecting Billions of Devices: “This document examines the future of machine-to-machine communication (M2M), with a particular focus on mobile wireless networks. M2M devices are defined, in this paper, as those that are actively communicating using wired and wireless networks, are not computers in the traditional sense and are using the Internet in some form or another. While, at the global level, there are currently around five billion devices connected to mobile networks, this may by some estimates increase to 50 billion by the end of the decade. The report provides examples of some of the uses to which M2M is being put today and its potential to enhance economic and social development. It concludes that to achieve these benefits, however, changes to telecommunication policy and regulatory frameworks may be required. Some of the main areas that will need to be evaluated, and implications of M2M assessed, include: opening access to mobile wholesale markets for firms not providing public telecommunication services; numbering policy; frequency policy; privacy and security; and access to public sector information.”
NextGov story: “Some of the same social media analyses that have helped Google and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spot warning signs of a flu outbreak could be used to detect the rumblings of violent conflict before it begins, scholars said in a paper released this week.
Kenyan officials used essentially this system to track hate speech on Facebook, blogs and Twitter in advance of that nation’s 2013 presidential election, which brought Uhuru Kenyatta to power.
Similar efforts to track Syrian social media have been able to identify ceasefire violations within 15 minutes of when they occur, according to the paper on New Technology and the Prevention of Violence and Conflict prepared by the United States Agency for International Development, the United Nations Development Programme and the International Peace Institute and presented at the United States Institute of Peace Friday.”
New York Times profile of a new crowdsourced service: “Watsi, which started last August, lets people donate as little as $5 toward low-cost, high-impact medical treatment for patients in third-world countries. The procedures range from relatively simple ones like fixing a broken limb to more complicated surgery — say, to remove an eye tumor. But the treatments generally have a high likelihood of success and don’t involve multiple operations or long-term care… Watsi represents the next generation of charities dependent on online donors, evolving the model started by sites like Kiva. With just a few mouse clicks, Kiva users, say, are able to lend money to a restaurant owner in the Philippines — and to examine her loan proposal and repayment schedule, to read about her and see her photograph.”
Jina Moore in the Columbia Journalism Review on the fifth “Envision” conference, convened by the UN’s Department of Public Information, the Independent Film Project, and Social Good Summit Partners: “These days, there’s lots of interest among the do-gooding world—nonprofits or NGOs, private foundations and public agencies—in how to use media. Partners in Health, to name just one big public health player, regularly uses videos and storytelling in its fundraising campaigns and on its website. So Envision’s focus on getting storytellers to understand and raise awareness about public health issues isn’t exactly new. The question is, is it useful?”