<agency name> Presentation
Friending the Statehouse
How the Open Data Movement and Social
Media are Changing Citizen Communication
Mark J. Headd
@mheadd / facebook.com/mheadd
Who am I?
• Maxwell Grad – MPA, 1994.
• 12 years in state government – NY & DE.
• Executive and Legislative branch experience.
• IT Policy advisor and IT agency manager.
• Past 7 years – private sector.
• Software developer with focus on phone / mobile technology.
• Open government enthusiast / speaker.
• Open source contributor.
• Blogger (voiceingov.org).
• Show me the Data!
• eGov vs. Gov 2.0
• What’s different?
• The Rise of Social Media
• Towards a Government Platform – defining APIs.
• APIs in the wild.
• Open311: What is it, Why is it Important?
• Location, Location, Location!
• Getting Started with Open Data.
• Conclusions. What Comes Next?
Show me the Data!
• Governments across the country and around the world are
publishing open data sets.
• National governments in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.
• Local governments from Seattle and San Francisco, to New York City
and Washington DC.
• Open government data is one drive of “Gov 2.0.”
What is Gov 2.0?
• Rebranding of eGov, begun more than a decade before.
• Take off of Web 2.0
• Real differences between eGov and Gov 2.0.
• Government centric (portal).
• Blur the lines between agencies, branches of government.
• Push to put government services online.
• Citizen centric (developer centric).
• Enhance the transparency of government operations.
• Push to put government data online in “raw” formats.
• The idea of releasing government data to outsider users is not new.
• The Open Data movement that is part of Gov 2.0 is different from
past actions to release government data in at least 3 ways:
– Publishing open data is becoming a measure of government
transparency and performance.
– Published data is in formats specifically
designed to be consumed by downstream apps and developers.
– Governments are actively engaging citizens and developers to consume
open data. Developer Contests = Cha Ching!
OMG, #OpenGov is BFD!
• Fundamental change in how we
communicate with each other.
• More channels in use.
• Uptake of “non-traditional” channels.
• Twitter and Facebook share a unique
role in this change.
• They are both a “channel” that is
used for communication, information
• They are also “platforms,” that let
people build on their foundations.
• Democratization of Data +
Democratization of App Development.
Where is Gov 2.0?
October 23, 2010
Towards a Government Platform
• What is an API?
• Application Programming Interface.
• A set of rules that govern how developers can use a platform or
• Typically built on underlying web technologies.
• Documented list of “functions” that can be invoked in the service.
• What are the requirements to invoke a function?
• Guarantee of a response from the service.
– Success! I get what I asked for (list of all tweets within 1 mile of
Maxwell Hall, Syracuse NY).
– Failure. I won’t get what I asked for, with an details of failure.
• The format of the response will be fixed and consistent.
• A contract.
APIs in the Wild
• Trailblazing governments are moving beyond
static data sets.
• City of Seattle uses a open source API that sits
in front of it’s data, allowing developers to
programmatically query multiple data sets.
• MassDOT and BART publish real time transit
• NY State Senate has deployed an API for
searching their Legislative Information System.
• San Francisco and Washington DC have
deployed APIs for their 311 systems.
• Moving from static data to real-time feeds and
• From individual efforts to standard
311 and Open311
• Abbreviated dialing designation set up for use by municipal governments in
both the U.S. and Canada.
• Non-emergency requests and questions.
• “Burning building? Call 911. Burning question? Call 311.”
• First: Baltimore (1996). Biggest: NYC (just passed 100 million calls).
• Pew Charitable Trust report on Philly 311.
• Most 311 operations include a web component with lists of FAQs and
information frequently requested by callers.
• Several 311 operations (including NYC and San Francisco) have worked to
incorporate Twitter and other social media tools into their services.
• San Francisco and Washington DC have deployed 311 APIs.
• Open311 Initiative. Effort to standardize 311 APIs across governments.
• Applications built for one municipality will work in others that support the
Location, Location, Location!
• Why are Twitter and Facebook
important in the context of
• Both services allow users to add
location information to content
• Both also allow developers to
query location-based data.
• Provides opportunities to allow
citizens to report information
• How much gov information
October 23, 2010
• TweetMy311 – “Better cities, one
tweet at a time…”
• Allows citizens to create a non-
emergency service request using
• Citizens can create new
requests, and query the status of
• Uses the Open311 API currently
live in San Francisco.
• Will be enable in DC in next
Getting Started with Open Data
• Where can governments begin with open data?
• What are people asking for?
• Look at customer engagements (phone / e-mail / web) for
opportunities to release open data.
• Is there anything available already?
• Look at high value / high impact data.
– Crime location data
– Other types of location data (polling places, libraries, health facilities).
– Transit data (Delaware General Assembly: SB 242)
– Restaurant inspection data
– Licensure data
• Compact data lends itself most easily to multiple channels.
• Make a plan. Set a goal. Publish the goal. Measure progress.
• More data! And more apps!
• Geekery as citizenship. Code for America (USA), Rewired State (UK).
• Less app building by governments – dramatic changes to existing
• Governments become data stewards / data providers.
• Uneven distribution of connectivity (both traditional and mobile)
will continue as an issue governments must address.
• Citizen communication with government may first require a trip to
the app store. San Francisco App Showcase, DC App Store.
• More multitenant applications, and apps shared between different
• Mobile devices and cell phones become the primary instruments for
communicating with government.