open source way

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

Five organizing tips for a successful CityCamp

government and citizens

Image credits: opensource.com

Original appearance on opensource.com.

Joining the open source (and CityCamp) movement has been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve been involved with open source for over a decade, but I never got involved in a community project in any significant way–until I found CityCamp. I haven’t submitted a single line of code, but I’m able to bring my project management and community-building skills to the table. That’s important because it highlights the fact that there is more to open source contributions than writing code. 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

This weekend: Aloha and open government at CityCamp Honolulu

Originally posted at opensource.com.

The City of Honolulu is calling all citizens to join the open government movement on December 3 and to prove the value of government data as a platform. They hope to entice citizens to shape the future of their city by identifying open government opportunities, discussing technology, and formulating solutions. Civic groups, designers, “govies,” techies, developers, and more are encouraged to participate. The organizers of CityCamp Honolulu are excited to host this open government unconference in preparation for a 2012 Code for America project. 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

Jumpstart your CityCamp planning

Helping other CityCamps with Documentation

There is a lot of momentum for CityCamp. We’re seeing other cities planning CityCamps in Denver, Minneapolis, and Honolulu (and more on the way). I’ve gotten a chance to interact with a few of the planners from some of these camps and give them tips & tricks on what worked well here at CityCamp Raleigh and some gotchas that we ran into.

As I’ve been talking with folks, one of the things they find most valuable is our documentation. Because we open sourced our project plan, sponsorship kit, logistics, and many other assets created along the way, other CityCamps are able to get going faster. They are able to re-purpose the work that we did and apply it to their camp. That’s the power of open source.

To make it easier, here is a list of documents from CityCamp Raleigh that may help other folks starting or even considering putting on a CityCamp: Continue reading

Things I learned from CityCamp

This article first appeared on citycampral.org

By Jonathan Minter / June 28th, 2011 /

I feel very fortunate to have been part of the planning group for CityCamp Raleigh.  Although I work for the City of Raleigh, I was part of the team as an average joe – not an “official city representative” – which allowed me to do things that have nothing to do with my day-to-day job responsibilities.  Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the everyday routine and shop for post-it notes and markers instead.

Here are some things I learned from the weekend and the planning that went into it.

  • I finally learned the value of Twitter.  I have been a Twitter voyeur for some time now and just set up an account a couple months ago.  Watching the real-time conversation from the audience about what was going on throughout the weekend made it a much more immersive experience.
  • I learned that there is a passionate group of citizens who are willing to not just talk about the problems our city faces – but are also willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work solving them.
  • I learned that the quality and availability of government data in standard formats is a foundation to lots of great things – namely an enabler to all those tech-savvy citizens who are willing to use that data to solve problems.
  • I learned that personal interaction between citizens and city employees can help city employees get exposure to the folks that ultimately consume our services.  As IT folks, sometimes we’re supporting the folks who support the folks who are on the front lines serving the citizens.  It always helps to be able to draw a line from where you stand to the people who will eventually be served by your organization.
  • Finally, I got a glimpse of what teamwork the open source way is all about.  There were no formal leaders, job descriptions, or top-down direction – just dedicated people who brought their skills to the project and jumped in wherever they could bring the most value.  We used technology tools based on their goodness of fit and experienced the freedom that comes from internet-based tools that interoperate with one another.

I’m looking forward to more interaction throughout the coming year and then another CityCamp Raleigh 2012!