Randomise Me


NESTA Policy Innovation Blog: “On 20 June 2013 we are hosting the launch of Randomise Me, a new website developed with Ben Goldacre, which will enable anyone to set up and run their own trial. What questions would you like to answer? For instance, ever wondered whether coffee gives you heart palpitations? Whether the reading app used in your classroom really does improve children’s attainment? Whether your new marketing campaign is increasing volunteer recruitment? If you want to know answers, then run a trial on Randomise Me and find out.
Randomised Control Trials may sound complex, but they simply involve taking a group, such as a group of patients, children, schools, or others, splitting them into groups at random, and then giving one intervention to one group, and another intervention to the other. The differences between each group are then observed to see if one intervention has achieved its supposed outcome. They are commonly used in medicine, but are much less common in other areas, such as children’s services, social care or education. Randomise Me is going to help remedy this.”

OGP Report: "Opening Government"


Open Gov Blog: “In 2011, the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (T/AI) published “Opening Government” – a guide for civil society organisations, and governments, to support them to develop and update ambitious and targeted action plans for the Open Government Partnership.
This year, T/AI is working with a number of expert organisations and participants in the Open Government Partnership to update and expand the guide into a richer online resource, which will include new topic areas and more lessons and updates from ongoing experience….
Below you’ll find an early draft of the section in GoogleDocs, where we invite you to edit and comment on it and help to develop it further. In particular, we’d value your thoughts on the following:

  • Are the headline illustrative commitments realistic and stretching at each of the levels? If not, please suggest how they should be changed.

  • Are there any significant gaps in the illustrative commitments? Please suggest any additional commitments you feel should be included – and better yet, write it!

  • Are the recommendations clear and useful? Please suggest any alterations you feel should be made.

  • Are there particular country experiences that should be expanded on? Please suggest any good examples you are aware of (preferably linking to a write-up of the project).

  • Are there any particularly useful resources missing? If so, please point us towards them.

This draft – which is very much a work in progress – is open for comments and edits, so please contribute as you wish. You can also send any thoughts to me via: tim@involve.org.uk”

Health Datapalooza just wrapped


I’ve just finished two packed days at the Health Datapalooza, put on by the Health Data Consortium with the Department of Health and Human Services. As I’ve just heard someone say, many of the 2000 people here are a bit “Palooza”d out.” But this fourth annual event shows the growing power of open government data on health and health care services. The two-day event covered both the knowledge and applications that can come from the release of data like that on Medicare claims, and the ways in which the Affordable Care Act is driving the use of data for better delivery of high-quality care. The participation of leaders from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service added an international perspective as well.
There’s too much to summarize in a single blog post, but you can follow these links to read about the Health Data Consortium and its new CEO’s goals; the DataPalooza’s opening plenary session, with luminaries from government, business, and the New Yorker; and today’s keynote by Todd Park, with reflections on some of new companies that open government data is supporting.
– Joel Gurin, GovLab network member and Founder and Editor, OpenDataNow.com

A Data-Powered Revolution in Health Care


Todd Park @ White House Blog: “Thomas Friedman’s New York Times column, Obamacare’s Other Surprise, highlights a rising tide of innovation that has been unleashed by the Affordable Care Act and the Administration’s health IT and data initiatives. Supported by digital data, new data-driven tools, and payment policies that reward improving the quality and value of care, doctors, hospitals, patients, and entrepreneurs across the nation are demonstrating that smarter, better, more accessible, and more proactive care is the best way to improve quality and control health care costs.
We are witnessing the emergence of a data-powered revolution in health care. Catalyzed by the Recovery Act, adoption of electronic health records is increasing dramatically. More than half of all doctors and other eligible providers and nearly 80 percent of hospitals are using electronic health records to improve care, an increase of more than 200 percent since 2008. In addition, the Administration’s Health Data Initiative is making a growing supply of key government data on everything from hospital charges and quality to regional health care system performance statistics freely available in computer-readable, downloadable form, as fuel for innovation, entrepreneurship, and discovery.

Informed, Structured Citizen Networks Benefit Government Best


Dan Bevarly in his blog, aheadofideas: “An online collective social process based on the Group Forming Networks (GFN) model with third party facilitation (perhaps via a community foundation or other local nonprofit) offers an effective solution for successful resident engagement for public policy making. It is essential that the process be accepted by elected officials and other policy making agencies that must contribute information and data for the networks, and accept the collaboration of their subgroups and participants as valid, deliberative civic engagement.
Residents will become engaged around a policy discussion (and perhaps join a network on the topic) based on a certain variables including:

  • interest, existing knowledge or expertise in the subject matter;
  • personal or community impact or relevance from decisions surrounding the policy topic(s); and
  • belief that participation will lead to real or visible outcome or resolution.

Government (as policy maker) must support these networks by providing objective, in-depth information about a policy issue, project or challenge to establish and feed a knowledge base for citizen/resident education.
Government needs informed citizen participation that helps address its many challenges with new ideas and knowledge. It is in their best interest to embrace structured networks to increase resident participation and consensus in the policy making process, and to increase efficiency in providing programs and services. But it should not be responsible for maintaining these networks….”

Digital Strategy: Delivering Better Results for the Public


The White House Blog: “Today marks one year since we released the Digital Government Strategy (PDF/ HTML5), as part of the President’s directive to build a 21st Century Government that delivers better services to the American people.
The Strategy is built on the proposition that all Americans should be able to access information from their Government anywhere, anytime, and on any device; that open government data – data that are publicly accessible in easy-to-use formats – can fuel innovation and economic growth; and that technology can make government more transparent, more efficient, and more effective.
A year later, there’s a lot to be proud of:
Information Centric
In twelve months, the Federal Government has significantly shifted how it thinks about digital information – treating data as a valuable national asset that should be open and available to the public, to entrepreneurs, and others, instead of keeping it trapped in government systems. …
Shared Platform
The Federal Government and the American people cannot afford to have each agency build isolated and duplicative technology solutions. Instead, we must use modern platforms for digital services that can be shared across agencies….
Customer-Centric
Citizens shouldn’t have to struggle to access the information they need. To ensure that the American people can easily find government services, we implemented a government-wide Digital Analytics Program across all Federal websites….
Security and Privacy
Throughout all of these efforts, maintaining cyber security and protecting privacy have been paramount….
In the end, the digital strategy is all about connecting people to government resources in useful ways. And by “connecting” we mean a two-way street….
Learn more at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/digitalgov/strategy-milestones and http://www.whitehouse.gov/digitalgov/deliverables.”

Introducing: Project Open Data


White House Blog: “Technology evolves rapidly, and it can be challenging for policy and its implementation to evolve at the same pace.  Last week, President Obama launched the Administration’s new Open Data Policy and Executive Order aimed at ensuring that data released by the government will be as accessible and useful as possible.  To make sure this tech-focused policy can keep up with the speed of innovation, we created Project Open Data.
Project Open Data is an online, public repository intended to foster collaboration and promote the continual improvement of the Open Data Policy. We wanted to foster a culture change in government where we embrace collaboration and where anyone can help us make open data work better. The project is published on GitHub, an open source platform that allows communities of developers to collaboratively share and enhance code.  The resources and plug-and-play tools in Project Open Data can help accelerate the adoption of open data practices.  For example, one tool instantly converts spreadsheets and databases into APIs for easier consumption by developers.  The idea is that anyone, from Federal agencies to state and local governments to private citizens, can freely use and adapt these open source tools—and that’s exactly what’s happening.
Within the first 24 hours after Project Open Data was published, more than two dozen contributions (or “pull requests” in GitHub speak) were submitted by the public. The submissions included everything from fixing broken links, to providing policy suggestions, to contributing new code and tools. One pull request even included new code that translates geographic data from locked formats into open data that is freely available for use by anyone…”

"ambient accountability"


New blog by dieter zinnbauer: “what is ambient accountability?
big words for a simple idea: how to systematically use the built environment and physical space to help people right at the place and time when they need it most to:

  1. understand their rights and entitlements (the what is supposed to happen)
  2. monitor the performance of public officials and service providers (the what is actually happening)
  3. figure out who is responsible and offer easy ways to take action if things go wrong and 1) does not match up with 2)

Ambient accountability is a very elastic concept. It ranges from the very simple (stickers, placards, billboards) to the artistic nifty (murals, projections) and the very futuristic (urban screens, augmented reality). It can include the official advisory, the NGO poster, as well as the bottom-up urban intervention…
For more see blog entries with a quick overview, and the historical backdrop and this working paper with lots of visual examples and a more in-depth account of why ambient accountability has a lot of potential to complement the existing anti-corruption repertoire and at the same time offer a interesting area of application for all those urban computing or open government initiatives.”

OpenData Latinoamérica


Mariano Blejman and Miguel Paz @ IJNet Blog: “We need a central repository where you can share the data that you have proved to be reliable. Our answer to this need: OpenData Latinoamérica, which we are leading as ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellows.
Inspired by the open data portal created by ICFJ Knight International Journalism Fellow Justin Arenstein in Africa, OpenData Latinoamérica aims to improve the use of data in this region where data sets too often fail to show up where they should, and when they do, are scattered about the web at governmental repositories and multiple independent repositories where the data is removed too quickly.

The portal will be used at two big upcoming events: Bolivia’s first DataBootCamp and the Conferencia de Datos Abiertos (Open Data Conference) in Montevideo, Uruguay. Then, we’ll hold a series of hackathons and scrape-athons in Chile, which is in a period of presidential elections in which citizens increasingly demand greater transparency. Releasing data and developing applications for accountability will be the key.”

D4D Challenge Winners announced


development=prize-pic_0Global Pulse Blog: “The winners of the Data for Development challenge – an international research challenge using a massive anonymized dataset provided by telecommunications company Orange – were announced at the NetMob 2013 Conference in Boston last week….
In this post we’ll look at the winners and how their research could be put to use.

Best Visualization prize winner: “Exploration and Analysis of Massive Mobile Phone Data: A Layered Visual Analytics Approach” –

Best Development prize winner: “AllAboard: a System for Exploring Urban Mobility and Optimizing Public Transport Using Cellphone Data”

Best Scientific prize winner: “Analyzing Social Divisions Using Cell Phone Data”

First prize winner: “Exploiting Cellular Data for Disease Containment and Information Campaigns Strategies in Country-Wide Epidemics””