IBM today announced a plan to give away $50 million of its services and technology over the next three years to 100 municipalities through a program the company is calling the Smarter Cities Challenge.
Funded via IBM’s philanthropic division, according to an IBM press statement, the Smarter Cities program aims to help municipalities around the world— with populations of 100,000 to 700,000 ideally— solve local problems in any of the following areas: healthcare, education, safety, social services, transportation, communications, sustainability, budget management, energy, and utilities.
The approximate value of each Smarter Cities Challenge grant will be equivalent to US$400,000. The company has alrady completed or is currently conducting a series of pilot grants in Baltimore, Maryland; Austin, Texas; and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Other municipalities can apply online via SmarterCitiesChallenge.org, and will be selected based on a number of criteria including their track record of problem solving, commitment to the use of technology and open data, and willingness to provide IBM with access to and time with city leaders.
Teams of IBM experts will provide chosen cities with recommendations for better delivery of municipal services, more citizen engagement, and improved efficiency and access to proprietary IBM technology like the company’s CityForward
, a kind of social network for city leaders, academics, and citizens that is also a city data analysis and data visualization platform.
The grant giving entity IBM stands to prime their sales pipeline by increasing their experience in Gov 2.0, Healthcare and Smart Grid verticals, with their generous, charitable effort.
Website: ibm.com Location: Armonk, New York, United States Founded: 1896
IBM, acronym for International Business Machines, is a multinational computer technology and consulting corporation. The company is one of the few information technology companies with a continuous history dating back to the 19th century. IBM… Learn MoreInformation provided by CrunchBase
The eCitizen Foundation, in partnership with e-Democracy.org, has launched a research project for best practices with notices and agendas for public meetings, sometimes called open meetings.
For more information on our approach, please see: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Public_Meeting_Notices_and_Agendas
To participate in a feedback session on our draft approach, please register at: http://publicmeetingsnov2010.eventbrite.com/
More information about this project from the e-democracy is available at: http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/publicmeetings
As of October 29, highlights of the draft approach include the following:
Public Meeting Notices and Agendas is intended to help local and larger jurisdictions and other interested parties the understanding and best practices for creating a healthy ecology of public notices within a larger civic ecology. Towards this we have a few guidelines:
- Jurisdictions should not have to cede identity, jurisdiction or oversight over their public notice systems as part of any contract or terms of service.
- However, jurisdictions may be held responsible for other sorts of provisions including paying for services and materials necessary to publish and syndicate the notice information.
- Jurisdictions should not limit access to the information that is published for any reason including jurisdiction, constituency, payment, and authentication for any purpose. However, based on sound and reasonable methods, jurisdiction should be encouraged to limit participation to any criteria that is understood, explicit and based on previously instituted rules, laws and regulations.
- Regardless of any additional methods of conveying the information contained in a public meeting notice, there must be a main method which is both human readable and machine processable.
- Aggregators, re-publishers and value add systems must always link and/or cite to the original and authoritative published version without any additional cost or proscriptions regarding the original content.
B. How to Publish an Online and Printable Public Meeting Notice with Agendas
- Everything should be at a URL (time/date, location, jurisdiction, agenda items, people)
- Every section of the page itself should be individually at a URL fragment and authoritatively citable and use embedded self-cite recommendation) so that each can have “Share-Like” functions.
- Everything should cite to authoritative source and be citable (self-cites)
- Standards for “Semantic” or “XHTML” for each component (e.g. RDFA for cal/time, microformats for events)
- Include links to alternative standards (e.g. iCal, RSS, etc)
- There should be a QR barcode for online, printed and mobile versions and other versions optionally.
- Every page should use “pop-ups” recommendation (“Preview Online Page Universal Page Standard”)
- Point to the Rules under which the meetings will be held
- Applicable Procedures (quorum requirements, other rules for each part of meeting)
- Commenting on Items, etc in advance of meeting.
- Public vs. Private
- Authenticated vs Psydonym vs Anonymous Participation and Personalization
- Comment and Participation and Collaboration (including policy and process for entertaining contributions that are not directly germane – e.g. “out of order” or “out of scope” and how those determinations are made for comments and online participation rather than in-meeting live rulings on points of order)
- Proprietariness and Propriety – gift-ban rules on free services? Need for RFP or Public Notice to use Vendor?
Business and Functional:
- Workflow for Public Employees and Officials (or authorized agents acting on their behalf) to auto-generate or manually create, amend or replace public meeting notices and agendas.
- Required and Recommended Tasks: Publicize Broadly and Inform Relevant Constituencies, etc (check-list)
- Role of “For Profit” “Non Profit” and other External Entities in Providing Services and in the Ecology of this information, communication and collaboration.
Examples of Meeting Notices and Agenda
- Pre-Meeting Phase
- Meeting Phase
- Post-Meeting Phase
- Archive and Access
Another example of how to make information for the public more informative, easier to consume and share.
West coast ChangeCampers will want to attend this upcoming event:
Open Governnment West BC
Nov. 10, Victoria, BC
British Columbia is beginning to buzz with innovative technology and civic engagement programmes, and a number of governments throughout the province have already launched open government policies or projects.
Open Gov West British Columbia (OGWBC) is a one-day conference designed to catalyze this growth of open government work, showcase the exciting and challenging work going on across the province, Canada and elsewhere, and bring members of government, technology, and citizen groups together to help create the future of open government work in the province.
Held in Victoria at the University of Victoria, Open Gov West BC brings leaders at all levels together to facilitate collaboration and share best practices across open government initiatives.
We are still looking for a few speakers to give “lightning” (5 minutes, 20 slides) talks http://opengovwest.org/opengovwest-bc-conference-call-for-speakers/
For more information, agenda and registration: http://opengovwest.org/open-gov-bc/
How local governments are using technology to deliver smarter government.
Most people encounter government at the state and local level much more often then they deal with Washington. Given historic lows in trust or approval for federal institutions, governors and city councils may appreciate that separation. But as citizens turn to the Internet for government data, policy and services, local governments are in the same boat with the feds when it comes to meeting demands online, and always with fewer resources.
As the Congressional midterm elections loom, the mainstream media will inevitably turn to the federal government’s use of technology. The national conversation on Gov 2.0 (to the extent it exists) will focus on hybrid townhalls and campaigns, and how the White House is using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. The application of open data and Web 2.0 technologies for governance likely won’t take center stage.
What remains under-covered, however, is the quiet evolution in the use of technology to enable “local government 2.0.” That awareness could change this fall, given the elevation of open government to a plank of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign and independent Lincoln Chafee‘s choice to run on an open government platform.
Regardless of the public discourse around Gov 2.0, which is too often hindered by jargon, one of the conclusions that can be drawn from HP’s recent survey of government IT professionals is that local governments both use and understand government 2.0.
Gov 2.0 Local: What is it good for?
The primary benefits of Gov 2.0 that IT professionals cite include improved e-services to the public, resident participation in government, and collaboration between agencies. That snapshot of Gov 2.0 evolution offers ample perspective on the challenges for Gov 2.0 at the federal level.
Cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, Portland, Ore. and the District of Columbia, have all been hailed in the media for innovative use of open data, new urban mechanics, adoption of Open311, and improved e-services. Promoting government transparency through technology is a leading topic of interest for local government officials, though implementation still lags that interest in many counties. Abroad, the growth of government 2.0 in Australia and development of open government in Britain are key case studies to watch, particularly data.gov.uk. Last weekend’s CityCamp in London drew hundreds of citizens, technologists and government workers together to talk about the next steps.
While some of the movement toward open government has been catalyzed by White House initiatives, much of that innovation has been driven by tight budgets and the availability of inexpensive, lightweight tools for communication, collaboration and crowdsourcing.
If you watch the progression of Gov 2.0 initiatives around the country and globe, it’s clear that collective action could be even more important to cities, states and towns reeling from the after effects of the Great Recession, particularly when the spigot of stimulus money runs dry in 2011. As The New York Times reported this summer, governments are going to extremes as the downturn wears on. As David Forbes wrote on his blog:
You need to read this piece on the drastic cutbacks some cities and states are enduring. The list is a devastating one: school years cut to the bone, public buses eliminated, police service reduced and in the above case, street lamps gone dark.
It doesn’t end there. Camden, NJ is preparing to close its libraries, rural counties are unpaving their roads, and due to layoffs the Oakland Police Department announced a list of crimes, including identity theft, vandalism, grand theft and poisoning, they’ll no longer respond to (I’m opening bets on how long before a private security contractor is operating in Oakland). [Note: Links and emphasis included in original post.]
The crisis in state houses will put even more focus on how state and local governments can do more for citizens with less resources. Successful cities are using social media as an inexpensive way to spread news about local government and learn what matters to citizens. Part of sustaining communities in the digital age includes investment, understanding and involvement in the dynamic online discourse.
We are more connected to our neighbors online than ever before. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 22 percent of all American adults have signed up to receive alerts about local issues like traffic, school events, weather warnings or crime alerts through email or text messaging. Some 20 percent of all adults have “used digital tools to talk to their neighbors and keep informed about community issues.”
These trends hint at the promise of innovation in this country that Tim O’Reilly wrote about last year. This approach to governance was:
… envisioned by our nation’s founders, a model in which, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to Joseph Cabel, ‘every man … feels that he is a participator in the government of affairs, not merely at an election one day in the year, but every day.’ In this model, government is a convener and an enabler — ultimately, it is a vehicle for coordinating the collective action of citizens.
The epicenter for local government 2.0 innovation just might be a little city in Texas, where a small town delivered a “Gov 2.0 makeover” to another community this September. Manor, sitting just outside of Austin, has grown rapidly in the recent decade as people migrate to its relatively inexpensive ranch homes and developments. Manor’s young chief information officer, Dustin Haisler, has inserted his city into the national conversation by turning Manor into a government technology petri dish. As a result of that work, last month Harvard honored Manor for its innovative approach to local government.
Initiatives deployed by Haisler include: an ideation platform that uses game mechanics, open government data published online, creation of an open source blogging platform, posting QR codes around town, adding a Meraki wireless mesh network, and making extensive use of social media.
“Empowering citizens to do great things for their community is an amazing tool,” said Haisler at the GovFresh local government 2.0 conference last month. “We wanted to do whatever we could to be transparent in a meaningful way.” Haisler made a wide contribution to enabling better local government through BetaCities, which provides resources and context for city managers who’d like to follow the trail Manor has blazed.
Haisler described BetaCities as an iterative community, which will evolve as more lessons are shared. “Gmail was in beta for years,” he said. “We’re going to be in beta forever.” He’s since developed the idea further, sharing a Gov 2.0 Guide to a City Makeover using open source, lightweight technologies that empower citizens to “co-create government” with officials and city employees.
The idea of a “government in beta” and open commons resonates with Beth Noveck, deputy White House chief technology officer for open government, who keynoted Manor’s Gov 2.0 conference. As she wrote in a post at the White House open government blog:
Alexis De Tocqueville observed about 19th century America that: “In towns it is impossible to prevent men from assembling, getting excited together and forming sudden passionate resolves. Towns are like great meeting houses with all the inhabitants as members. In them the people wield immense influence over their magistrates and often carry their desires into execution without intermediaries.” This can-do spirit is in evidence today in the “Municipal Makeover” underway in Manor.
As Parag Khanna, a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, recently wrote, “cities are the world’s experimental laboratories.” And what’s taking place in Texas is just one example of the new efforts under way to build tools, train and organize volunteers, and design programs for institutional innovation at the local level.
Speaking in Manor, Noveck applied Clay Shirky’s notion of a “cognitive surplus” to the government realm, positing that a “civic surplus” of missed opportunities to empower citizens to reduce waste and become involved in their democracy exists.
Judging from the panels, conversations and platforms discussed in Manor, Noveck may be on to something. Andrew Krzmarzick’s approach to “winning the Gov 2.0 revolution” may use the Alamo as a theme, but the ideas he recounts are applicable around the world: state and local governments can apply technology and civic participation to arrive at better outcomes.
Collaborative crisis response goes local
“The public will self organize using tools that are out there,” said Greg Whisenant at the Manor Gov 2.0 event (Whisenant subsequently considered approaches to opening up government data streams here at Radar). According to Whisenant, the CrimeReports.com citizen tips network has led to more than 122,000 arrests and more than 45,000 fugitives caught.
The trend of citizens using the web to communicate during emergencies is growing. At the national level, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate has been using social media to more effectively deliver on his mission to help communities before, during and after crises. “We work for the people, so why can’t they be part of the solution?” Fugate asked at the Crisis Congress this summer. “The public is a resource, not a liability.”
That’s also true at the local level. “Gov 2.0 happens when we stop shoveling money and start stacking ingenuity,” said Brian Humphrey at the Red Cross Emergency Social Data Summit this summer. Humphrey started the @LAFD Twitter account for the Los Angeles Fire Department in 2006.
The use of collaborative technologies to collect crisis data and empower citizens to help one another was powerfully demonstrated to the world after the Haiti earthquake. It’s in that context and in more conventional crises that “citizens can become sensors,” said John Crowley at the GovFresh conference. Tools like OpenStreetMap, QR codes on paper maps, and Ushahidi can be put to use during emergency situations.
If you haven’t watched Crowley and others present on “crisis mapping Haiti” from this year’s Where 2.0 conference, it’s worth the view:
All of these tools can empower a globally distributed society to help each other on the local level. To paraphrase the famous saying, we can now click globally, act locally. Just watch the amazing time lapse of OpenStreetMap edits in Haiti in this video of Tim Berners-Lee’s TED Talk on Crisis Commons:
New emergency management IT “engages citizens in a participatory model with government,” Berners-Lee suggested. In fact, The federal government is looking for feedback on that effort, as evidenced by the U.S. Patent Office seeking comment on a proposal to encourage the creation and distribution of humanitarian technology [PDF].
“This kind of innovation is not a ‘nice to do,’” said Robert Greenberg, founder and CEO of G&H International Services, quoting Noveck in Manor. “It’s a must-do for the sake of our democracy.”
Local government 2.0 in beta
The local effort won’t be easy, fast or without risks. We’re all in open government’s beta period, when lessons from Web 2.0 can be applied to solving millennia-old problems. That’s a primary driver for Code for America, where the mission is to deliver better government through code.
If Gov 2.0 is the Internet boom, in 2010 it’s clear that it won’t be an immediate shift. The recent 2010 civic health report from the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) offers context for how and why all of that effort matters now to citizens: people are stepping forward to fix their own problems and help one another. Consider the story in USA Today of Herrin, Ill., a town taking care of itself. Citizens of Herrin are cooperating to get through the crisis caused by a major plant closing. The town is a microcosm of a post-industrial America in recession.
Collaboration and participation are key aspects of “We government” and open government, where a civic surplus of citizens’ passion, expertise and patriotism is put to work fixing their own communities.
“The most powerful force in American democracy is the connection between and among citizens,” said David B. Smith, NCoC’s executive director in a prepared statement. Civic life in America now includes a digital component that allows people to share news and co-create in unprecedented ways. What citizens and local government do with that force is the next great question.
- Better government through code
- Citizens as public sensors
- How crowdsourcing helped Haiti’s relief efforts
Inspiration for what is possible here in Sault Ste. Marie. Money quote:
“Empowering citizens to do great things for their community is an amazing tool,”
Also online: Past Events
City Elections — Discovering What We Care About
You’re invited to a day of exploration on the theme:
“Human Values in City Government — Expressing and Hearing the Voices of Ottawa”
When: Sunday, October 17, 2010 from 11:00 am to 3:30 pm – come at 10:30
Where: Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Avenue in Ottawa
We are a group of citizens eager to explore a new way to involve community in participatory democracy. Explore with us how all of our voices can be brought together for a well-functioning city. Everyone is invited to participate – both those with and without knowledge of how democracy and city governance currently works.
What is the outcome? We will capture the essence of our discussions and create a report that will be distributed to upcoming municipal election candidates and influential public servants so they know what matters to us.
Our promise: Every topic anyone cares about will be up for discussion.
What you need to do: Think about the following question to identify topics you would like to discuss:
What ideas, questions and possibilities do I want to explore with other voices of Ottawa? How can we participate in bringing our human values to City Governance?
We will work with a participative and creative approach called Open Space that allows us to:
- Co-create the agenda
- Participate in ways that work for everyone and include everyone
- Engage, collaborate, innovate, move around, imagine, generate, dream, envision
- Explore ideas and recommend actions
We will provide the space and structure for this creative process.
Coffee, tea and cookies will be provided.
Bring your lunch.
Be ready to be surprised!
Who are we:
Let us know that you are coming:
I just learned of this group through a mutual friend. Great to see initiatives similar to what is happening here in the Sault.
Election cafes pitch a collaborative approach to civic politics
By Michael Purvis
Updated 6 days ago
Two experimental election-themed “community cafes,” – one online and one in person – will seek to change the way Saultites get to know their municipal candidates.
On Wednesday, candidates for mayor and city council have been invited to join community members online to participate in a collaborative game that will see them discuss and evaluate ideas to move the city forward.
On Oct. 18, at the Art Gallery of Algoma, candidates are being asked to participate in what organizers call “civic speed dating,” where those running for office will meet with the public in 15-minute discussions on a wide variety of issues facing the community.
The idea is to see the candidates in action, having real conversations, and using collaborative tools that have proven successful in the corporate world, said Gerry Kirk, whose organization ChangeCamp Sault is running the events in partnership with the Sault Youth Association.
He said traditional approaches to civic engagement, like debates, “just don’t work anymore.”
“We don’t have good mechanisms in place – we’re resorting to basic things like sending an e-mail or a phone call, maybe we do a town hall every once in a while, but largely we’re kind of shut out from each other and we’re not taking advantage of the myriad ways we can connect online, that we use so much in parts of our lives other than community matters,” said Kirk.
Kirk, who in his day job coaches businesses and organizations to improve themselves, said he has used these techniques in his consulting work with dramatic results.
Wednesday’s Election Cafe will use an online game developed and run by California-based company Innovation Games, which uses its slate of “serious games,” to help businesses solve problems.
Trained facilitators will guide participants, who will be broken up into rooms for each ward to evaluate ideas from candidates, community members, and those already submitted to ideas.changesault.ca
At the end, organizers will be able to gather results from each of the wards and come up with a list of the priorities across the community, “or at least across the people who played the game.”
The “civic speed dating,” event will follow a similar theme.
“People again will have a chance to have real conversations with each other – including candidates – where they have to figure out what are ideas for moving the Sault forward, discuss them, and collaboratively prioritize them,” said Kirk.
“In a small way, we’re going to see how candidates dialogue and interact with each other and with people in a real situation,” he said. “What matters to our city? And they have to make choices, in each room they have to decide collectively, yeah, these things matter more than those things.”
He said the concept should resonate with youth.
“They already know the current process doesn’t work, they don’t have to be convinced,” he said.
While Kirk had a hand in Monday’s mayoral debate held by Soo News and the Sault Ratepayers Association, he said he is not a fan of the debate format, which he likens to a job interview – a good way to pick a candidate who is good at answering questions, but a terrible way to find the person best-suited to the job.
Better are, “approaches where it’s really participatory, it’s open, it’s collaborative, it’s not you-versus-me, it’s where we can have in-depth conversation,” said Kirk. “You can’t get that in a debate, it’s an artificial environment to discuss things that matter.”
Beyond the Oct. 25 vote, Kirk envisions the Election Cafe concept being scaled to engage hundreds or thousands of people on issues as complicated as the city’s budget.
“All of a sudden you’re getting real input in a fun way,” said Kirk.
Spots at both Election Cafe events are limited, but tickets are free. Register at 2010election.eventbrite.comArticle ID# 2790914
Michael Purvis who nails it again.
How the best ideas win
Saultites care about our community. A LOT. In just one month, we’ve cast 659 votes and made 78 comments on 60 ideas and questions for the future of Sault Ste. Marie. Ideas like:
- A store that sells local agri-food products.
- Changing Gore street into a Mackinaw-style street for locals and tourists.
- A hackerspace for the Sault
Add to that ideas from election candidates like turning Northern Breweries into a multi-use arts/commercial venue and we’ve got a lot to talk about.
Imagine if you could have real input into what our community, guided by Council should focus on now and in the future. That is what these Election Cafés are all about. Pitch your ideas against others, work with citizens and candidates to prioritize what matters most. Experience how candidates can work with others on issues that matter *before the election*. And have lots of fun doing it (is that allowed?)
You have two chances for some serious play:
- (TOMORROW) Meet online Wed Oct 13, 7 pm. Play Innovation Games® online. Read more. Starts at http://changecamp.ca in a live chat. Register ahead if you can, or just show up at 7.
- (NEXT MONDAY) Meet over food and wine at Art Gallery of Algoma. Candidates and citizens gather in a café-style setting, having short conversations around tables. We call it civic speed dating. Read more / register
Several mayoral, ward and trustee candidates have signed up. Now is your chance to talk about what matters to you and the Sault in a unique, forward-thinking format.
This is the third in a series of ChangeCamp Sault events, after the ChangeCamp one day open space in June and ChangeSalon in July. ChangeCamp Sault designs and facilitates new ways for communities, teams and organizations to work collaboratively for change. For more information, contact Gerry Kirk at email@example.com.
The only live *and* interactive debate this election
When: Monday, October 4, 7 pm
Got a question for those wanting to be mayor? Submit them:
- Ahead of time. Post them to the question forum. Vote on other questions. The top vote getters are most likely to be asked.
- During the debate. Ask them in the live chat, or send them to @changecampsault on Twitter.
We know you’ve got great ideas for this community too, and the election is a great time to get ‘em out. Things like:
ChangeSault.ca community keeps growing
The newly formed ChangeSault.ca community keeps growing. Feeling disconnected? Wish you could meet others with similar passions? Connect with people who care about the Sault. It’s the place where great ideas for a better Sault live.You can also find:
Tired of the same old conversations that don’t seem to get far? So are we. It’s time for new conversations that are fun, interactive and produce results.In a few days we’ll be announcing 2 Election Cafés, one online and one in person. This is the future of civic engagement.
On June 1st GovCamp Canada is happening in Ottawa, and a great group of people are already registered and attending: http://govcamp.eventbrite.com/
Thanks to the support of Microsoft and CIPS and with the involvement of a government 2.0, open government and government transformation practitioners and leaders from both inside and outside government, this event provides a unique opportunity to accelerate knowledge and practice as part of a national conversation at multiple levels of government in Canada.
I was honoured that organizer John Weigelt asked me to help by facilitating the unconference portion of the day and moderating the opening panel discussion. I will be looking for participants to propose and lead session topics.
But what do we need to talk about? What are the key issues and topics in the so-called government 2.0 space in Canada, and what can we do to advance the conversation, thinking and practice in Canada?
Please leave a comment and/or tweet with the hashtag #GovCamp with your must-have session topics.
If you haven’t already, please register to attend this event, either in person in Ottawa or via the livestream being provided by our friend Walter Schwabe of FusedLogic.