gov 2.0 expo – Day 3

Open City / Open 311, Jennifer Pahlka, Nigel Jacob, Philip Ashlock, Ben Berkowitz, Bryan Sivak

People who have ideas about service for citizens often approach Boston City Hall when they don’t know how to realise these things. The City of Boston helps them in the realisation and the apps created are also useful for other citizens. In Washington, citizens also have the opportunity to come up with ideas (e.g. improvement street signs and street crossings) that will eventually be realised by the city.

There is a lot of exchange between cities about open data and open city programmes. City can learn from each other when describing their best practices. Many cities have problems with the digital divide. Already the connection to the internet (speed) is dividing the pubic. Only people who have smart phones/iPhones can only use the new services provided for mobile devices. However, apps for smart phones are demanded and have to be developed. The biggest problem for open cities is to create participation but these services are not well accepted yet. Governments that want to establish an open city must establish open communication first. Reports from the public cannot be ignored by politicians, which means that improvement from inside is often more difficult than pushes from outside government’s institutions.

FixMyStreet was an inspiration for further infrastructure applications. Project managements use usually a lot of money and take long. Therefore working with small web-2.0-companies is very interesting. The price is low and benefits can be seen very soon; small companies work very efficient. Cities have to promote the innovation that comes from small businesses.

Cities can use web services in all field of government actions; the first step is to provide information. People and cities have to talk to each other and share tools and services. Agencies have to connect to other agencies. Something that works in one place can be applied at other places and does not have to be reinvented.


Real Government in Virtual Worlds, Kevin Curry, Eric Hackathorn, Jeanne Holm, Pam Broviak, Paulette Robinson

A virtual worlds for government basically is Second Life used by governments. Over 90 % of the government cannot access virtual worlds. Security matters are the main reasons for not allowing government employees to access virtual worlds. WeGov is a virtual world for the entire federal government – behind a firewall for work only.

Governments can use social media and virtual worlds to reduce costs. Why should government be involved in something that looks like a video game? There are many chances in the area of informal education. Webinars are already common in government agencies, but it is a rather boring environment and people tend to something else next to the webinars. In 2009, the government saved 3 mio dollars (costs for travel and hotels) by using online meetings and conferences. You can even work cooperatively on documents etc. online. Officers of local governments often feel obliged to stay in their town, and virtual worlds allow them to stay in their offices and meet people from all over the world. However, not many citizens attend town hall meetings, and virtual worlds can be a platform to meet comfortably.

An island is a chunk of virtual land that you can buy. Agencies in the US have probably more than 100 islands in Second Life. Second Life is not the only platform that provides virtual worlds. Some protocols that are being created in the future might be able to connect the different worlds. With their OpenID people shall be able to access these worlds. Officers shall just create an account and give it a try. Virtual worlds are huge for education, but they can also be used for customer services. Human interaction is one of the most important aspects in virtual worlds.


Next Generation Policy Making: The Move Toward Online Collaboration & Open Government, Michael Reardon, Mary Martha Churchman, Bryna Helfer, Danielle Germain, Nadia Ibrahim

Since January 2009 open government is relevant for federal agencies. So far it is about information sharing. But now policy development becomes more important – ensuring meaningful input among critical stakeholder, providing opportunities for stakeholder collaboration.

1. Define the problem. You have to find the right problem. 2. Identify the community. The crowd might not be experts only, but you should give opportunities to participate. 3. Find or create the tools needed.

Concerning transportation, there are many different federal agencies (parts of agencies) funding public transportation. Consequently there are overlaps and gaps. Therefore a federal council was established to coordinate these institutions – Unite We Ride. People were able to make ideas that could be rated. The dialogue went on for 2 weeks. The object was to create a 3-year strategic plan. Important was that participants knew that the council would listen indeed. The goal was to get quality and not quantity participation.

ePolicyWorks is a platform for disability and employment – Health Care  was the first issue tackled but other areas like transportation will follow. The platform tried to involve the public into policy making process. The platform used was Microsoft SharePoint 2007. It has many possibilities for users to share and create ideas. Conference room was widely used. In the Legislative Corner people could read up present legislations. The Resource Library was the place to share documents on various policy areas. So far the site had limited access only.

Te goal is to expand ePolicyWorks to other topic areas, enhance the public website and participation, and engage federal partners and stakeholder.



Law.Gov: America’s Operating System, Open Source, Carl Malamud
Citizens should have access to the law; consequently they’d have access to justice. Lincoln already reminded America that government would only last when citizens would be informed about the law. Citizens shall understand how the country works. Nowadays there are still regulations and restrictions when accessing governmental information and data. US law must become open source. Gov2.0 Expo and Summit are places to reflect what the US are and shall be.

Spear Phishing en Masses, When Open Data is Dark, Jeff Jonas, IBM
Data will find data and relevance will find you. Ads will be tailored to costumers and won’t feel like spam anymore. Information will be contextualised by linking pieces of information (automatically). As context accumulates everyone gets smarter.

GeoEnabling Gov 2.0, Jack Dangermond
GIS is already very successfully used by government. Agencies today publish their geo-infomraiton through geo-apps. Opening data was already a great step but linking this data with GIS makes this information comprehensible. –

An App We Can Trust: Lessons Learned in Post-Katrina New Orleans, Denice Ross
How many people came back to New Orleans after the hurricane? Important was to choose the right database for this project. There were errors in the dataset used, that had to be dealt with. Communicating errors was the key to gain credibility.

Advancing the Future of America’s Heritage with Organic Online Communities, Jeffrey Guin
The web is perfect to share stories of people. How can we connect with an audience online that is not quite there? You have to engage anyway and ask experts for concepts. You have to share on a peer level. Nowadays we have to possibility to make our voices heard – that’s our legacy.

Using Web 2.0 Tools to Engage Students in Health Discussions, Virginia Hill, NIH
What good is research when it ends up in some data bases? Kids usually go their peers when they want to know about drugs and other topics kids and teenagers are interested in. is a platform that connects experts with teenagers. Experts give accurate information and teenagers can discuss the topics. The forum is moderated. In 2009 there was a significant increase in questions about marijuana as it was a topic in the news (medical marijuana). So NIH can analyse what is relevant to teens across the nation.

Building Trust and Partnerships in Horn of Africa: U.S. Navy Maritime Civil Affairs Team Uses Facebook to Build Trust Among NGOs, Scott Mclinary – Team 104 started to use Facebook to keep in touch with families etc. However, it became a communication tool as NGOs they worked together gained trust through these transparent updates.

Healthcare Needs a Redesign, Jay Parkinson
Right now healthcare is undersigned. Costumers of healthcare are everyone, so the needs of the communities cannot meet the supply yet. If every user (citizen) got a profile, healthcare system would know who you are. The government could recommend doctors when you don’t know who you shall go to and who is a specialist for your special issue. Doctors would be able to estimate the time needed to help you. Users can decide if they grant doctors access to their personal medical data – also data collected by yourself. Such a project has to start small and with those who understand how it works and what the benefits are.

How Open Data Can Improve America’s Health, Todd Park
Open data can be used in health care. A meeting between health care experts and data experts came up with about 20 ideas for apps that can help healthcare. General healthcare data (e.g. smokers rates) was published publicly and innovators developed useful apps.

Smarter and Better Acquisition, Mary Davie
The goael of ‘betterbuy’ was to making federal acquisition better. People collaborate to make acquisition better using social media. There is also an idea-collection about ideas that improve acquisition. Twitter is used to inform people about what is going on. – ,

Innovation and Participation: Embracing the Civic Web, Anil Dash, Expert Labs
The goal is to enable participation. People need to know that participation is wanted and that the issues tackled are important. A challenge that is as big as the moon is to get the ideas and creativity of the masses. Participation is possible when it is accessible. The internet is the network of networks, and it allows everybody to give feedback to questions asked by … whoever, also government.

Using Social Media as a Strategic Communication Tool, Price Floyd, Department of Defense
Social media are only used for short time by the Department of Defense. Now it is very actively communicating to the outside world, but communication means have to be chosen according to needs. In Afghanistan the most important way to communicate is word of mouth, but also radio and TV is relevant there. Strategic communication includes all communication channels available.

Participation and Innovation in America, Sonal Shah
Big problems in the US are education, healthcare, energy, etc. Low-income communities use text messaging more often than the internet. Therefore text message service has been developed: once people sign up for a service they receive text message information for free. Government also has to think of technologies that can be used by fringe groups and low-income groups of society.

Global Engagement Starts at Home, Alec Ross, State Department
Diplomacy traditionally is a top down, formal exchange between different states and representatives. How can we make diplomacy more citizen-centred? The Haiti incident showed that people could organise themselves. People could donate with $ 10 with sending a text message (3 mio people participated). Interestingly, people knew about this possibility before it was on the traditional media because it was spread on twitter. The US tries to supports other countries in developing web 2.0 services for citizens. E.g.: Fight against crime in Mexico (anonymous text message service). Hillary Clinton is supporting a movement for the freedom of the internet, as Iran and China and other countries around the globe do not grant internet freedom as the internet is sometimes used against the political system.

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