gov20

CityCamp Raleigh Competes for Civic Innovation

The unconference at CityCamp Raleigh on June 2 was amazing. The ideas. The passion. The people. For those of you unfamiliar with the unconference format, we gathered at 9:00 am  on Saturday. The coffee was a little late, so we didn’t start until 9:15 am. We explained the process for the day…which went something like this:

Attendees were allowed to give 1-minute pitches for ideas, workshops, or projects. There were over 30 pitches Then attendees voted on their favorite ideas. We had five rooms with sessions starting every hour from 10am-4pm. One room was dedicated to TranspoCamp. (Okay, so we started a little late and the first two sessions were at 10:30 and 11:30, but we made up time during lunch.) The group gathered back at 12:55pm to go over the contest rules and address any questions. Then afternoon sessions started and teams started forming.

By the 4:00pm deadline, we had ten teams submit their project ideas. The concepts range from Continue reading

CityCamp Raleigh Announces Second annual CityCamp to foster local government and citizen collaboration

Citizen-led “unconference” brings innovation and cooperation to the
capital city June 1, 2, and 3, 2012.

Raleigh, NC—CityCamp Raleigh announced the second annual, city-focused “unconference” that unites government, business, neighborhood, non-profit, and academic communities to create next-generation solutions for Raleigh. The event highlights the power of participation, promotes open source in local government and explores how technology can increase government transparency and participation. All citizens are invited to participate either before or after the conference by posting suggestions and ideas on the CityCampRal.org homepage under the ‘Submit Your Topic’ header. Continue reading

LocalWiki project spawns open source communities

Originally posted on opensource.com. Triangle Wiki is an open source project influenced by CityCamp Raleigh.

Who says open source is all about code and hackathons have to stick to computer hacking? Code Across America is a different kind of open source community, and it came together on February 25, 2012. This effort was part of civic innovation week (February 24-March 4), where over a dozen cities in the United States had citizens organize to improve their cities and communities. Simultaneous events included hackathons, unconferences, meet-ups, and Code for America ’brigades’ deploying existing open source applications. This is a story about building community knowledge the open source way, using the open source platform LocalWiki.

Triangle Wiki Day is an open source success in community building

On Triangle Wiki Day, around 50 people collaborated at Red Hat headquarters in Raleigh, NC. The event was a soft launch of trianglewiki.org, an effort to document information about the Triangle region and increase collaboration and knowledge-sharing across the area. The wiki uses open source software, LocalWiki, as a content management platform. It includes wiki pages, images, and mapping.

The day started off with a brief presentation [PDF] on how the Triangle Wiki project has roots in CityCamp Raleigh. It’s also part of the larger open government movement and part of the Code Across America civic innovation week.

Raleigh At-large City Councilor Mary Ann Baldwin gave a keynote at the event. She spoke briefly on the importance of collaborating on a project like Triangle Wiki and how events like this continue to be an authentic part of Raleigh’s open source philosophy and open-minded communities. At-large City Councilor Russ Stephenson and Raleigh Planning Director Mitchell Silver were also in attendance.

Reid Serozi, Triangle Wiki project lead, provided the background on LocalWiki, showing a video from Philip Neustrom. Neustrom is one of the LocalWiki co-founders and worked extensively with daviswiki.org. Serozi walked the attendees through wiki 101—teaching them how to register an account, create new pages, and edit existing pages. After that, the edit party began.

Right away, people started creating pages, collaborating with each other, and helping one another with wiki best practices, formatting, mapping, and more. The group made a lot of progress.

I spoke with Councilor Baldwin at the end of the day. She was a little intimidated at the start, but is now comfortable making contributions on her own. She created several pages, practicing with a page about the Cotton Mill before contributing several pages mapping assets for Raleigh.

Serozi was pleased with the turnout and participation. His reaction on the day:

As I was setting up for the Triangle Wiki Day event, there were so many unknowns. As the event started, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the seats taken, power strips full with dozens of laptops ready to partake in an open content edit party. During the event and afterwards, it became pretty clear the efforts produced from Triangle Wiki Day will have a ripple effect within our community.

What did this community accomplish? Here are a few of the results from Triangle Wiki Day:

  • 633 page edits
  • 100 maps
  • 138 new photos added

Neustrom was watching from afar. He knows the wiki software he works on is just an enabler. “I think the Triangle Wiki day was a spectacular success,” he said. “It really shows the true potential of this new form of collaborative local media.”

The next step for the Triangle Wiki is to capitalize on this event. “The challenge for everyone involved at this point is to continue the momentum and reach 1,000 pages by the March 14 public launch,” said Serozi.

More about LocalWiki from their co-founder

Neustrom wants LocalWiki to be more than a collaborative open source project. He feels that the freedom that this platform offers will be a key to getting people to share information and knowledge in the future:

Right now we’re at point where it’s unclear how people in our local communities will get and share information in the future.  And, more critically, many large corporations would like to be the gatekeeper of this local information. The LocalWiki movement represents a truly open alternative to an increasingly consolidated, closed-off local information ecology.

The civic world has focused a lot on the problem of open data–and open data is really important.  But open data alone won’t satiate our communities’ information needs. We need tools and organizations that can really pull everything together and provide context, provide a more qualitative take on local information. And I think LocalWiki is really well-positioned to help in this respect.

Conclusion

The power of open source and collaboration were evident at Triangle Wiki Day. This project is about creating a community anyone with local knowledge can contribute to. It brings together people with different skillsets—ranging from tech-savvy know-how to photography, local history to hackers, and much more. You don’t have to code or contribute upstream to add your knowledge to the wiki, you just need to click the edit button. After that, you’re part of an open source community and a philosophy that is changing the world.

Project information

Pictures

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

How to get your city to pass an open government policy

Raleigh, NC—City Council adopts open source policy

On Tuesday, February 7, the Raleigh City Council passed an Open Source Government Resolution, unanimously, promoting the use of open source software and open data. The resolution includes language that puts open source software on the same playing field as proprietary software in the procurement process. It also establishes an open data catalog to house data available from the city.

Raleigh isn’t the first city to pass an open government policy. But it may be the first to provide a blueprint that can help other cities pass their own open initiatives more quickly. And it’s no surprise that there was influence and support from CityCampers in Raleigh. Continue reading

CityCamp Honolulu recap: Restoring trust in government

Originally posted at opensource.com.

The theme that emerged from the first CityCamp Honolulu, held on December 3 (the 17th CityCamp held worldwide), was restoring citizen confidence in their government. In a very collaborative and participatory atmosphere, organizers looked to citizens to generate ideas for the City of Honolulu’s upcoming Code for America project and to harness the power of design thinking to rapidly prototype ten topics generated during the unconference. Continue reading

Combating duplication with open government

Originally posted on opensource.com.

The second CityCamp Colorado started off with two speakers from the City of Denver setting the stage for the day’s theme: enhancing access to government. Held at the Jefferson County Administration and Courts Facility on October 28, 2011, more than 70 people gathered to participate, learn, and advance the open government movement. After Tom Downey, talked about the power shift in open government, Deputy Chief of Staff Stephanie O’Malley for Denver Mayor Michael Hancock explained the importance for citizens of knowing how to find government information. Continue reading

CityCamp Colorado Keynote with Tom Downey

The second CityCamp Colorado started off with Tom Downey and Stephanie O’Malley from the City of Denver setting the stage for the day’s theme: enhancing access to government. Held at the Jefferson County Administration and Courts Facility on October 28, 2011, more than 70 people gathered to participate, learn, and advance the open government movement. Continue reading

Model Local Open Government Directive

In December, Kevin Curry, Alissa Black, Scott Primeau, and I began working on a model open government directive while at Citycamp Colorado.  After a flurry of work over the last month, we, with the help of a few dozen additional open government advocates, are able to bring you the model directive for local government.  This directive will help municipalities and state governments bring about open government in their communities.

As we state in the comments to the directive’s introduction:

The model Local Open Government Directive is intended to be an executive initiated order or directive to the local government under the executive’s legal authority.  An executive leader, such as a mayor, should use this model to adopt a directive for the city to help institutionalize open government principles within the city government.  This model may be tailored to meet the needs of the particular locality.

  

We modified, tailored, and improved the Federal open government directive for local government.  I encourage you to share this model directive with leaders in your communities and to lend support to our global open government efforts.  In partnership with OpenPlans, we are hosting the directive at opengovernmentinitative.org.  In the next couple of days, you will find multiple versions of the directive to fit your needs for sharing the directive with others.

In addition, our friends at the Sunlight Foundation have created a site where you can sign up to show your support for this effort.  Please sign up at http://publicequalsonline.com/localopengovdirective/

Finally, over the next few weeks and months, we intend to continue to create supporting materials and to draft model open government legislation to help institutionalize open government at all levels.  Together we can make transparency, participation, and collaboration possible in our governments.  If you are interested in getting more involved, please join the Open Government Initiative group.  

In addition to Kevin, Alissa, and Scott, I’d like to particularly thank Philip Ashlock, Nicole Aro, and Sean Hudson.  I am forgetting a number of people, but thanks to everyone that participated in the Open Government Initiative group.