2010 ALGIM Gov 2.0


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Presentation to Association of Local Government IT Managers web symposium about open data, gov 2.0, and the like.

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2010 ALGIM Gov 2.0

  1. 1. Open Data Nat Torkington ALGIM Web Symposium May 2010 Going to start by looking at some thought-provoking projects, and then I’ll talk about the thoughts they provoke.
  2. 2. Wellibus
  3. 3. Routes
  4. 4. Select
  5. 5. $$$? You might ask how much this cost MetLink. iPhone developers are hot property, the skills aren’t common, apps have to be reviewed by Apple, ....
  6. 6. Nick Parfene It cost nothing. This guy wrote it. He’s a Wellingtonian, his girlfriend had been nagging him to give her the bus schedule on her mobile device.
  7. 7. Public Transit Data He did it using the Metlink Google Transit data feed. Metlink offer the data to Google so they can appear in Google’s maps. Nick piggybacked off that.
  8. 8. Actively used He has over 500 users every day.
  9. 9. Projects
  10. 10. California had a $26B budget gap in 2009, cities lost redevelopment money, Santa Cruz had $9.2M deficit. Started a website to engage public. Wasn’t a blog, used a company “Uservoice” whose tools promoted productive discussion and minimised unproductive. Published 10 years of budgets. Had accountants, business people, citizens making suggestions. They were able to make thoughtful informed cuts and optimisations.
  11. 11. Boston non-profit in partnership with the city, running social networks for neighbourhoods. Started with one neighbourhood, expanded to 18. Connect to neighbours, crime reports, common interests, chat, volunteerism, events.
  12. 12. A legion of systems to report problems (out lights, downed lines, flooded streets, buggered roads, etc.). It’s Buggered Mate. See Click Fix. FixMyStreet. Hundreds of these.
  13. 13. District of Columbia released a lot of data, then ran a contest. $2.3M of software creation for $50k project (grand prize won $10k). Winner was an iPhone and Facebook app combo for doing 311 “fix my street” style requests. Many cities following this course.
  14. 14. Cities are releasing data, and lots of it, in reusable formats. They hope to make businesses more efficient, citizens better directed, and services cheaper.
  15. 15. I know what you’re thinking You’re thinking about your own web sites.
  16. 16. Local Govt Web Sites You’re delivering information in PDF files, your web site holds PDF forms that must be mailed in, even the digital databases you maintain don’t have online interfaces. And I know why.
  17. 17. I’m talking science fiction dreams, which would take megabucks to realise,
  18. 18. But this is what they give you. Every year you look at your budgets and
  19. 19. it’s not good.
  20. 20. Chillax Don’t panic, as Douglas Adams would have said. I’m not asking the impossible. As Krishna was told by Arjuna, "a man must go forth from where he stands. He cannot jump to the Absolute, he must evolve toward it" Let’s boil it down.
  21. 21. Gov 2.0 Gov 2.0, “e-democracy”, or whatever the hell it’s being called today.
  22. 22. Last 20 years of computers It’s just looking at the amazing successes of the last 20 years of computing
  23. 23. We can do better and applying them to government.
  24. 24. What’s worked?
  25. 25. Build open, extensible systems IBM PC took off because everyone could build compatible hardware Web took off because anyone could use code and build their own website, and they interoperated APIs and open data
  26. 26. Design for cooperation Small systems loosely joined DNS is federated, not centralised
  27. 27. Learn from your users Google maps (used by 45% of all online mashups) hired the first guy to make a mashup fedspending.org used to be run by OMBwatch
  28. 28. Lower the barriers to experimentation Failure should be an option. Edison: “I didnʼt fail ten thousand times. I successfully eliminated, ten thousand times, materials and combinations that did not work.” Much innovation comes from a single engineer within an entity like the New York Times, putting archives up on an inexpensive, rented server from Amazon. The low cost of failure made it easier to experiment.
  29. 29. Build a culture of measurement Amazon driven by numbers Need good metrics! You are what you measure. Canʼt change what you donʼt measure.
  30. 30. Build a community You want this to succeed. You also want to get credit. (“Why do we need NOAA when we have weather.com?”)
  31. 31. Invisible Walls (aka Planned Interactions) Wikipedia succeeds because of what you don’t see
  32. 32. Build simple systems and let them evolve Twitterʼs original design doc was 1/2 a page of paper, and there are now 11,000 applications built on top of it (written by third parties). The hourglass model: run on many systems, support many applications, but connected by a common protocol. “Complex systems built from scratch never work. You need to build a simple system and let it grow… Complex problems paradoxically require simple answers.”
  33. 33. Open Data The easiest step for governments to take is opening data. This means
  34. 34. 1. Machine readable
  35. 35. 2. Reusable
  36. 36. (“Creative Commons”)
  37. 37. 3. Self-service
  38. 38. 4. Open format
  39. 39. 0. Useful! Temptation is always to release the easy stuff. Work backwards from the issue to figure out what data would be most useful in the hands of citizens?
  40. 40. Open Data: Necessary Sufficient why are we doing this?
  41. 41. Action Insight Data Get the data in front of the right people. Over the fence isn’t enough. It’s been tried, and then everyone scrambles to find users.
  42. 42. Community You need to build a community of users. fortunately you’re good at community. you already have one.
  43. 43. Don’t cargo-cult Don’t use technology because it’s trendy, it ticks a box, or someone else used it. Know what you’re hoping to accomplish, use the right technology with the right social measures around it. What made Wikipedia great? Same invisible walls in the app that Santa Cruz used.
  44. 44. Contests Contests draw your community out of the woodwork. What if you don’t have a lot of developers in your community?
  45. 45. Do the work to make useful data available Contests often used to try to excite people about irrelevant data. Release data people are passionate about. This probably means a fight.
  46. 46. Standards let you piggyback on the world’s developers Google Transit feed Open311 project
  47. 47. It doesn’t end with data
  48. 48. Vision So, here’s my vision that I’d like you to share.
  49. 49. Integrated workflow Every process in your council is online, and has a web/mobile/smartphone/Babelfish mindreader interface. Citizens can interact with the council conveniently, and efficiently.
  50. 50. “Build web services, not web sites.” —Rod Drury this leads to Rod Drury’s suggestion
  51. 51. Takeaways
  52. 52. 1) PDF isn’t enough
  53. 53. 2) Web maps aren’t enough
  54. 54. 3) Release open data
  55. 55. 4) Connect with citizens over data
  56. 56. 5) Cultivate local developers
  57. 57. 6) Built web services not web APIs
  58. 58. 7) Use standards
  59. 59. Redux • PDF is not enough • Web maps are not enough • Release open data • Connect with citizens over the data • Cultivate local developers • Build web services not APIs • Use standards With these tips, I hope you’ll go back to your councils and be thinking of the intelligent life outside the org chart--who can you bring in to build a community of data users and app developers so you can connect data to insight to action. If you have questions or need help,
  60. 60. Thank You nathan@torkington.com http://nathan.torkington.com http://twitter.com/gnat here’s my contact information. I’ll take questions if we have time.