opengov

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!

 

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.