Knight News Challenge on Open Gov


Press Release: “Knight Foundation today named eight projects as winners of the Knight News Challenge on Open Gov, awarding the recipients more than $3.2 million for their ideas.
The projects will provide new tools and approaches to improve the way people and governments interact. They tackle a range of issues from making it easier to open a local business to creating a simulator that helps citizens visualize the impact of public policies on communities….
Each of the winning projects offers a solution to a real-world need. They include:
Civic Insight: Providing up-to-date information on vacant properties so that communities can find ways to make tangible improvements to local spaces;
OpenCounter: Making it easier for residents to register and create new businesses by building open source software that governments can use to simplify the process;
Open Gov for the Rest of Us: Providing residents in low-income neighborhoods in Chicago with the tools to access and demand better data around issues important to them, like housing and education;
Outline.com: Launching a public policy simulator that helps people visualize the impact that public policies like health care reform and school budget changes might have on local economies and communities;
Oyez Project: Making state and appellate court documents freely available and useful to journalists, scholars and the public, by providing straightforward summaries of decisions, free audio recordings and more;
Procur.io: Making government contract bidding more transparent by simplifying the way smaller companies bid on government work;
GitMachines: Supporting government innovation by creating tools and servers that meet government regulations, so that developers can easily build and adopt new technology;
Plan in a Box: Making it easier to discover information about local planning projects, by creating a tool that governments and contractors can use to easily create websites with updates that also allow public input into the process.

Now in its sixth year, the Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding and support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisors to help advance their ideas. Past News Challenge winners have created a lasting impact. They include: DocumentCloud, which analyzes and annotates public documents – turning them into data; Tools for OpenStreetMap, which makes it easier to contribute to the editable map of the world; and Safecast, which helps people measure air quality and became the leading provider of pollution data following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
For more, visit newschallenge.org and follow #newschallenge on Twitter.

Data-Smart City Solutions


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.”

New certificates launched to help everyone discover, understand, and use open data


Press Release from the Open Data Institute: “The ODI is today launching Open Data Certificates to help everyone find, understand and use open data that is being released. The new certificates are being announced by CEO Gavin Starks at a G8 Summit event: Open for Growth. The certificates have been created in response to business, government, and citizen needs to bring rigour to the publication, dissemination and usage of open data. Over the last six months, ODI has been collaborating with dozens of organisations around the world to define the certificates. Today sees their first Beta release.
The certificate is made up of two components:1)  a visual mark that shows the quality level of the data
2) a human and machine-readable description of the data being released
There are four levels of certificates:
Raw: A great start at the basics of publishing open data.
Pilot: Data users receive extra support from, and provide feedback to the publisher.
Standard: Regularly published open data with robust support that people can rely on.
Expert: An exceptional example of information infrastructure.
Benefits of the certificates include helping:

  • publishers of data understand how they can better connect with their users;
  • users of data to understand its quality, licensing, structure, and its usability;
  • businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators have confidence that the data has value to them;
  • policy-makers benchmark and compare the progress and quality of the data released.

Commercial and public sector organisations have already committed to the certificates including:
– Open Corporates: corporate information for over 50 million companies worldwide
– OpenStreetMap: the free wiki world map offering worldwide open geodata
–  legislation.gov.uk: 500 years of UK legislation information
– amee: an environmental score for each of the 2.7 million companies in Britain
– MastodonC:  energy monitoring data analysis from Retrofit for the Future projects
– Placr: transport data covering all 360,000 stops and stations nationwide
Certificates are created online, for free, at http://certificates.theodi.org/. The process involves publishers answering a series of questions, each of which affect the certificate generated at the end.Read Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude’s opening remarks at the conference, with the emphasis firmly on open data and transparency”

Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO)


European Commission Press Release: “The Commission today unveiled plans for the Global Internet Policy Observatory (GIPO), an online platform to improve knowledge of and participation of all stakeholders across the world in debates and decisions on Internet policies. GIPO will be developed by the Commission and a core alliance of countries and Non Governmental Organisations involved in Internet governance. Brazil, the African Union, Switzerland, the Association for Progressive Communication, Diplo Foundation and the Internet Society have agreed to cooperate or have expressed their interest to be involved in the project.
The Global Internet Policy Observatory will act as a clearinghouse for monitoring Internet policy, regulatory and technological developments across the world.
It will:

  • automatically monitor Internet-related policy developments at the global level, making full use of “big data” technologies;
  • identify links between different fora and discussions, with the objective to overcome “policy silos”;
  • help contextualise information, for example by collecting existing academic information on a specific topic, highlighting the historical and current position of the main actors on a particular issue, identifying the interests of different actors in various policy fields;
  • identify policy trends, via quantitative and qualitative methods such as semantic and sentiment analysis;
  • provide easy-to-use briefings and reports by incorporating modern visualisation techniques;”

Innovations in American Government Award


Press Release: “Today the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University announced the Top 25 programs in this year’s Innovations in American Government Award competition. These government initiatives represent the dedicated efforts of city, state, federal, and tribal governments and address a host of policy issues including crime prevention, economic development, environmental and community revitalization, employment, education, and health care. Selected by a cohort of policy experts, researchers, and practitioners, four finalists and one winner of the Innovations in American Government Award will be announced in the fall. A full list of the Top 25 programs is available here.
A Culture of Innovation
A number of this year’s Top 25 programs foster a new culture of innovation through online collaboration and crowdsourcing. Signaling a new trend in government, these programs encourage the generation of smart solutions to existing and seemingly intractable public policy problems. LAUNCH—a partnership among NASA, USAID, the State Department, and NIKE—identifies and scales up promising global sustainability innovations created by individual citizens and organizations. The General Services Administration’s Challenge.gov uses crowdsourcing contests to solve government issues: government agencies post challenges, and the broader American public is awarded for submitting winning ideas. The Department of Transportation’s IdeaHub also uses an online platform to encourage its employees to communicate new ideas for making the department more adaptable and enterprising.”

Open Data Research Announced


WWW Foundation Press Release:  “Speaking at an Open Government Partnership reception last night in London, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web Foundation (Web Foundation) and inventor of the Web, unveiled details of the first ever in-depth study into how the power of open data could be harnessed to tackle social challenges in the developing world. The 14 country study is funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and will be overseen by the Web Foundation’s world-leading open data experts. An interim progress update will be made at an October 2013 meeting of the Open Government Partnership, with in-depth results expected in 2014…

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and inventor of the Web said:

“Open Data, accessed via a free and open Web, has the potential to create a better world. However, best practice in London or New York is not necessarily best practice in Lima or Nairobi.  The Web Foundation’s research will help to ensure that Open Data initiatives in the developing world will unlock real improvements in citizens’ day-to-day lives.”

José M. Alonso, program manager at the World Wide Web Foundation, added:

“Through this study, the Web Foundation hopes not only to contribute to global understanding of open data, but also to cultivate the ability of developing world researchers and development workers to understand and apply open data for themselves.”

Further details on the project, including case study outlines are available here: http://oddc.opendataresearch.org/

Churnalism


The Sunlight Foundation and the Media Standards Trust launched yesterday Churnalism US which is “a new web tool and browser extension that allows anyone to compare the news you read against existing content to uncover possible instances of plagiarism” (churned from their blog post).

The new tool is inspired by the UK site Churnalism.com (a project of the Media Standards Trust). According to the FAQ of Churnalism.com:

“Churnalism’ is a news article that is published as journalism, but is essentially a press release without much added. In his landmark book, Flat Earth NewsNick Davies wrote how ‘churnalism’ is produced by:

“Journalists who are no longer gathering news but are reduced instead to passive processors of whatever material comes their way, churning out stories, whether real event or PR artifice, important or trivial, true or false” (p.59). According to the Cardiff University research that informed Davies’ book, 54% of news articles have some form of PR in them. The word ‘churnalism’ has been attributed to BBC journalist Waseem Zakir.

Of course not all churnalism is bad. Some press releases are clearly in the public interest (medical breakthroughs, government announcements, school closures and so on). But even in these cases, it is better that people should know what press release the article is based on than for the source of the article to remain hidden.”

In a detailed blog post Drew Vogel, a developer on Churnalism US, explains the ‘nuts and bolts‘ behind the site which is fueled by a full text search database named SuperFastMatch.

Kaitlin Devine, another developer on Churnalism, provides a two minute tutorial on how Churnalism US works:

https://web.archive.org/web/2000/https://youtu.be/6fvADRst_YM

Digital Public Library of America Launched


Press Release: “The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) launched a beta of its discovery portal and open platform today. The portal delivers millions of materials found in American archives, libraries, museums, and cultural heritage institutions to students, teachers, scholars, and the public. Far more than a search engine, the portal provides innovative ways to search and scan through its united collection of distributed resources. Special features include a dynamic map, a timeline that allow users to visually browse by year or decade, and an app library that provides access to applications and tools created by external developers using DPLA’s open data…
With an application programming interface (API) and maximally open data, the DPLA can be used by software developers, researchers, and others to create novel environments for learning, tools for discovery, and engaging apps. The DPLA App Library features an initial slate of applications built on top of the platform; developers and hobbyists of all skill levels are freely able to make use of the data provided via the platform….
With its content partners, the DPLA has developed a number of diverse virtual exhibitions that tell the stories of people, places, and historical events both here in the US and abroad; all are available freely via the portal.”
 

Big Data Challenge to Transform Health Care Delivery


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.”