Gov 2.0, Open Data

California electronic records legislation – SB 1002

Senate Bill 1002, which creates a new “open data standard” in the California Public Records Act, is proceeding in the Assembly after approval by the Senate. The League of California Cities has emerged as the main opponent of the bill. Read their thoughts here.

I’ve expressed my personal thoughts on the League of California Cities’ position on SB 1002 here.

News, Open Data

‘SFpark’ Opens Parking Data

A new project from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency allows drivers to check out parking pricing and availability from the web or iPhone and iPad, and enables flexible pricing for the most desirable parking spots at different hours throughout the day.

You can fill up on information about SFpark here.

SFpark has also created a developer API.

Gov 2.0, News, Open Data, Open Source

Chris Vein: From SF to the White House

As reported on Twitter, Gov 2.0 Radio and FedScoop on Wednesday, former SF CIO Chris Vein has decamped for Washington, DC, where he is the new deputy CTO for innovation.

Gov tech pubs have been abuzz with the news.

More at InformationWeek.

On the Code for America blog, Jennifer Pahlka discusses how Vein was instrumental in supporting Civic Commons and CfA. “I’m happy to see Chris and his commitment to change join the other innovators in the White House, all of whom have inspired our work,” Pahlka writes.

The National Association of Communications Officers and Advisors also did a nice write-up on the promotion for its longtime member: “This is an outstanding appointment,” said NATOA Executive Director Steve Traylor. “And it’s an important recognition by the Obama Administration of the importance of local government efforts in technology and broadband innovation.”

Good luck to Chris in his new role!

Gov 2.0, News, Public Participation

Kicking off Gov 2.0 Club San Francisco!

3722704950_5ed3fbaf08The Gov 2.0 movement celebrated two great milestones at 111 Minna in downtown San Francisco last night: the birth of Gov 2.0 Club San Francisco, and the one-year anniversary of GovLoop, the “Facebook for Government.”

Around 100 people from local and federal government and private sector tech, innovation and social media backgrounds joined the event, sponsored by Gov 2.0 Expo and Firmstep.

Attendees included representatives and employees of the SF PUC, Department of the Environment, Department of Technology, Booz Allen Hamilton, Circlepoint, Yahoo, The WELL, the Social Media Club, YouTube, Overstream, Green 960, Granicus, the EPA and other federal agencies, Firmstep, and more. 

Jay Nath, innovations manager at the Department of Technology, spoke of the City’s desire to embrace open data and the spirit of Web 2.0, and I highlighted the collaborative nature of Gov 2.0. Many new connections were made, and we brainstormed around a Gov 2.0 Camp in SF to celebrate the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s election and committment to government transparency.

GovLoop, Gov 2.0 Club and several other sponsors continue the SF event’s “Summer of Gov” theme tomorrow with a mixer in DC. 

Flickr photo of Jay Nath, left, and me by Steve Rhodes.

– Adriel Hampton

Open Data

Conversation with Kevin Bowers of the City of Vancouver

Had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Kevin Bowers, IT Tech Planner for the City of Vancouver (@KevinJBowers), this afternoon about the great work he and his team are doing in Vancouver.  On May 19th, a motion was introduced that stated priorities around open data, open standards and open source.  This document has heavily inspired the work that we’re doing here in SF, so it was a real honor to connect with Kevin (not to mention reassuring  to talk with another city who is forging ahead on this path).

Kevin told us that, to start, Vancouver is focusing their efforts on open data.  Open source is, of course, of high priority–it just has a much longer runway.

Another mover and shaker in Vancouver is David Eaves (@david_a_eaves).  He and Kevin have been working to sync up with volunteer developers in their area about the data project.

Vancouver is looking to start their open data initiative with an in-house created offering.  Across cities, this portal approach seems to be a universal choice for a first stab;  it is incredibly quick and fairly easy to stand up.

Vancouver is also looking to integrate collaborative tools into their offering.  In order to better gauge demand, they might publish a list of potentially available data and allow users to vote on which they’d like to see first.  I think that this is an interesting approach, and a nice way to make sure that data sets of highest priority to end users are appropriately prioritized in-house.  Of course, there is also the “more is better” approach of providing all data sets possible as soon as possible, without strategic prioritization. 

We finished the conversation with a discussion about quality: How do we make this project most meaningful?  Where is the value in this project, and how do we make sure that we are providing information and architecture that people can and will want to use?

News, Open Data, Public Participation should we do web 1.0 or web 2.0 for our initial launch?

Our end goal is to create a end-user application for any city to use along the lines of the design from Sunlight Foundation through our open source initiative – OpenData. Before we get there we want to follow the principle laid out by Tim Berners-Lee – just do it.

The other reason to get something out there is to get feedback from the community on two things:

  1. Desired datasets (through Digg like voting tool)
  2. Dataset quality (schema, metadata, accuracy, etc)

So the question we face for our initial launch in August 2009 is:
1. Simple HTML table like CA is doing

a. Pros: quick to set up and follows a table format like other data catalog sites

b. Cons: zero interactivity – rating, commenting, etc

2. Use our online discussion platform, Pligg

a. Pros: web 2.0 features

b. Cons: not in a table format

We’re leaning towards #2 but welcome your thoughts.

-Jay Nath

News, Open Data, Open Source, Public Participation

Are you a developer interested in open gov data and open source? Check out our new group

San Francisco is starting an open source community to liberate government data. We have several developers on the team and we’re looking for others to join us. Our goal is to develop an open source platform to help improve public access to raw government data in machine readable formats.

You can get more details on our wiki and look through our technical documentation if you’re technically inclined

To join, just go to our mailing list

-Jay Nath