Open Government Primer


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Presentation given at the National Association of Government Webmaster (NAGW) 2011 conference on open government.

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  • Comments: Visit the sites instead of screenshots More in-depth discussion of the topic; not so much a bit of links & resources with description. View policies and drafts More information about file types.
  • If citizens and citizen organizations have access to this information it allows for public oversight. What is government up to? If data is public then government can be monitored
  • The three principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration form the cornerstone of an open government.  Transparency: promotes accountability by providing the public with information about what the Government is doing.  Participation: allows members of the public to contribute ideas and expertise so that their government can make policies with the benefit of information that is widely dispersed in society.  Collaboration: improves the effectiveness of Government by encouraging partnerships and cooperation within the Federal Government, across levels of government, and between the Government and private institutions.
  • Education is always a good thing. Transparency gets the data out there. This is turn hopefully motivates people to get involved with government If we are all working from the same data we can speak a common language and have common expectations We want our users to trust us don’t we? If we put our data out there we are proving we have nothing to hide. Interaction and participation is the next step. By allowing diverse opinions during the rule-making process, the quality of decisions will increase. Ideally as a law maker you want to hear from all sides of the story. Those for/against and their reasoning.
  • A 2010 Open Data Benchmark Study from Socrata found that 68% of U.S. citizens and 92.6% of federal employees are behind the data transparency aspect of the Obama administration's Open Government Directive. I also heard numbers from other studies saying 9 out of 10 adults want open data. Questions (Strongly Agree, Mod Agree, Mod Disagree, Strongly Disagree, Unsure) Government data is the property of taxpayers and should be free to all citizens In the 21st century, if government data is supposed to be public, it should be available online I am more likely to vote for politicians who champion data transparency I would trust my government more if they would put the majority of government data online Broad access to government data will help identify and reduce inefficiencies in Government Entrepreneurs will create new products and services based on the data Data transparency is an important enough initiative to fund with taxpayer dollars
  • More data from Socrata. This is how users what the data. Explore and interact (dark blue/left) Browse pre-made summary charts or maps of data (medium blue/2 nd from left) See what others have to say and share my feedback (middle) Download and analyze in Excel (light blue) Other
  • Here are some examples of open file formats. The data is not encumbered by any copyrights, patents, trademarks or other restrictions We want to encourage more participation in government. We want to encourage external users to write apps and share the data we provide.
  • Data producers – decide what data should be posted and get it posted Another important aspect of data production is making sure the data is up-to-date. Many of the repository websites provide an API so you point it to an existing data source and it pulls the updates. It is our responsibility to make sure that data source stays up-to-date. As government agencies we are mostly data producers but we can also play the data consumer role
  • Data producers can use this to classify data. This list was started in 2007 by a group of open government advocates and over the years it has been built upon. When you look around the web you will see this number listed as 8 – 16 principles. Complete All public data is made available. Public data is data that is not subject to valid privacy, security or privilege limitations. 2. Primary Data is as collected at the source, with the highest possible level of granularity, not in aggregate or modified forms. 3. Timely Data is made available as quickly as necessary to preserve the value of the data. 4. Accessible Data is available to the widest range of users for the widest range of purposes. 5. Machine processable Data is reasonably structured to allow automated processing. 6. Non-discriminatory Data is available to anyone, with no requirement of registration. 7. Non-proprietary Data is available in a format over which no entity has exclusive control. 8. License-free Data is not subject to any copyright, patent, trademark or trade secret regulation. Reasonable privacy, security and privilege restrictions may be allowed. Reviewable - Reviewable in the context of the 8 Principles of Open Data means: There is a designated contact person to assist with the data. There is a designated person to respond to complaints and principle violations. Administration must have jurisdiction to review whether the principles have been applied appropriately.
  • Data consumers are usually put into one of these categories. You have research types and the media. They want to download data and potentially mash it up with data from other sources. Programmers also want to mash up the data but they are writing an application around the data. Then you have citizens. They just want to know how much crime is in their neighborhood, when their trash day is, when we are going to fix that pothole, etc. All of these consumers rely on the data source to be up-to-date.
  • You can find a bunch of mash ups done with Google maps. In a government context we could mash up crime data with GIS data for example and offer a crime map Or say you have a Flickr and you want to mashup images of trees with a map. The possibilities for mashups are endless…
  • API’s interconnect websites in a more fluid user-friendly manner Representational State Transfer ( REST ) REST-style architectures consist of clients and servers . Clients initiate requests to servers; servers process requests and return appropriate responses. SOAP - Simple Object Access Protocol , is a protocol specification for exchanging structured information in the implementation of Web Services in computer networks . It relies on Extensible Markup Language (XML) for its message format, and usually relies on other Application Layer protocols, most notably Remote Procedure Call (RPC) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), for message negotiation and transmission.
  • APIs might be developed by government as a service to constituents They can also be developed independently by citizens and citizen organizations Government created usually provides information on government activity and seeks to engage involvement Those developed by outside organizations oversee government activity and make what government is doing visible These icons are some of the organizations and examples of APIS/Mashups. We have been using the NOAA weather API for a couple years now to provide the weather forecast on our internal and external websites.
  • Invite developers to use open data to write applications for prizes. First prize on Apps for America 2 contest was $10,000. This contest ran through August 7 th . Winners announced at Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington, DC on September 8th at Gov 2.0 Expo Showcase NYC BigApps competition ran in October and awarded prizes in January. Administered by NYC’s Challengpost, the contest hopes to draw attention to the city’s 170 data sets in hopes of making life better for residents and visitors. This is a win for government because we are low on time and resources. App contests provide us access to new talent and the opportunity to look at our data from a different perspective. It is good to provide a specific problem for developers to solve. This way they write targeted apps based on your needs. Many of these contests will have apps that win and the targeted users don’t use them after the contest. The other problem is they are written and never maintained. Instead of cash prizes it would be better to award a contract to developers to maintain the app. This way you make sure it’s not only useful because it has met a purpose but it’s also up-to-date.
  • Code for America seeks to partner with government organizations to identify projects that can benefit other agencies They build web-based applications, enable engagement between government and citizens, move towards transparency and collaboration and shareable An initial investment ($250K) is required by the agency and then Code for America provides the developers (which they call fellows) to get the project done. Code for America can help to find sponsors to fund this expense as many agencies are strapped for cash. Cities can apply as well as developers who want to work for Code for America.
  • Directgov have created the Directgov | innovate developer site to provide an innovative, collaborative, open source environment for Government and developers to interact, share new ideas and showcase work. The seek to house applications developed by government open data
  • The Open Government Directive was established by the federal government in December 2009 This directive establishes 4 main goals for federal agencies: Publish Government Information Online Improve the Quality of Government Information Create and Institutionalize a Culture of Open Government Create an Enabling Policy Framework for Open Government
  • One of the actions that came out of the Colorado Citycamp was to draft an open government directive that local governments could adopt if they choose. Members of CO Smart Communities, Code for America, City Camp and the Sunlight Foundation worked on the draft These model Open Government policies are for any government to use and adapt to their needs.  An executive leader, such as a mayor, could use these policies to build a directive for his or her city in order to begin to institutionalize open government principles within local government.
  • aims to be the most comprehensive list of open data catalogs in the world. Launched in alpha version in June 2011 135 listings so far
  • was launched May 2009 even before the president issued the open government directive They started with 49 datasets and they now have over 389,000 datasets This has spawned a national movement of open data platforms that at last count involved 16 nations, 29 states, 11 cities and several international organizations. Also on this website you can find links to almost 1000 applications developed using the data 2011 Next Generation is interactive, explorable, and social. This site is primarily a repository for federal agencies but they link to state, county repositories
  • 6900 datasets Runs in Drupal Mix between and Directgov
  • Launched March 2011 In addition to offering visitors immediate access to a vast array of facts and records, lets them do the following: · Post comments about the data right on the dataset. · Use the data to create charts, graphs, maps and calendars, which users can share with others. “Creating displays is as easy as posting to YouTube,” Kautz said. · Suggest new datasets for the state to display. · Create or participate in discussion forums, where visitors may share their views and concerns with state agencies and the public. Download the data in any of eight formats, something researchers and scientists will appreciate.
  • was established by an organization named Colorado Smart Communities which is non-profit organization formed by a group of government employees . The website is created in Wordpress and with this website they seek to host datasets from Colorado governments. Their API is based in CKAN (Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network) which is the same language used the example. The core of CKAN is a powerful registry / catalog system designed for machine interaction so that tasks like registering and acquiring datasets can be automated (though it’s also easy for humans to use too!). This is a prototype that put together for us in our website template. They have an API we can use so we can post to the website and auto-generate a catalog for use on our website containing the same data. They are working with us, Denver and Castlerock just to name a few. If you are an agency in Colorado check them out.
  • wins lots of awards. They have recently redesigned their website. This is their open data website. I found data in CSV, KML and XLS. XLS is good for sorting and running calculations but isn’t an open file format. They have links to other data sources such as local governments within Utah,, etc.
  • DataSF is the city and county of San Francisco’s open data initiative. They have datasets grouped by department. They have a scorecard that ranks the departments based on how many data sets they have contributed. The last time I checked Public Works was winning with IT closely following. They use a crowd sourcing application to have suggested data sets voted up or down on the list. They use the app showcase as a way to give app developers a place to share the apps they have written. They have roughly 44 apps listed on this page. They had a one day hack-a-thon contest using the DataSF datasets. It cost $10 for developers to participate. The app that won was an app to track city maintained plants and trees (over 64,000 of them). Source code
  • CityCamp is an unconference that strives to promote innovation for municipal government These events have 4 main goals Bring local gov officials together along with experts, programmers, designers, citizens, journalists, etc. Create and maintain patterns for use the web to facilitate government transparency Foster communities of practice and advocacy on the role of the web, mobile and open data Create outcomes for participants to act on These events are happening all over the world. This particular event happened in December 2010 over a weekend and several of us in IT were in attendance.
  • CityCamp events are happening worldwide. Attend one so you can network with other organizations. Follow those who are interested in open data on Twitter or Google+. Look at what others are doing.
  • You have your work cut our for you. Educate yourself and then educate your organization. Get buy-in from management so they support this effort. Make sure they understand how open government can help the organization. So for example put your records out there so you receive less records requests which amounts to less staff time filling records requests. What are you most requested records? Put those out there… If you sell it to them as the next cool thing they are not going to support you. What does your management require? Do you need a policy or a directive to get started? You will have to decide as an organization what data you want to release Start with the low hanging fruit.. Stuff you already put on your website such as GIS data, maps, crime data, etc. Put it all in one location to start your data repository Partner with other agencies to create a state repository or if one already exists for your state see how you can add your data. Inventory what data you have agency-wide so you can determine what data should be made public. Data that will violate security, privacy or legal concerns will not be released as open data.
  • Scan the QR code to get a list of bookmarks about opengovernment
  • Open Government Primer

    1. 1. Leslie Labrecque: City of Boulder, ColoradoOpen Government Primer
    2. 2. Agenda• What is open government?• Why it’s important• Examples of open government• How to learn more• Questions
    3. 3. What Is Open Government?Governing doctrine that citizenshave the right to accessgovernment documents andproceedingsExcerpt from Wikipedia
    4. 4. Three Principles• Transparency• Participation• Collaboration
    5. 5. Why Its Important• Common language/expectations• Helps build trust in government• Diverse opinions increase quality of decisions
    6. 6. Expectations For Open Data Source: 2010 Open Data Benchmark Study by
    7. 7. Delivering Data Source: 2010 Open Data Benchmark Study by
    8. 8. Open File Formats
    9. 9. Data Producers• Provide the data• Keep it up-to-date
    10. 10. Open Gov Data Principles Complete Primary Timely Accessible Machine readable Non-discriminatory Non-proprietary License-free*Compliance to these principles must be reviewable
    11. 11. Data Consumers Consumer Scientists Researchers Programmers Interested Type Analysts Constituents Economists MediaData required bulk, downloadable, standards-based, consistent, machine-readable and open data API, interactive sortable, combined with other pointing to real-time searchable can be data sources source of data filtered and visualized Applicable JSON, XML JSON, XML,CSV or Application built File open linked data in using the data Formats RDF Source:
    12. 12. Mash UpA webpage or application usingor combining data, presentationor functionality from two ormore sources to create a newservice.Excerpt from Wikipedia
    13. 13. APIApplication ProgrammingInterface (API) are technologiesthat enable website interaction.(Examples: REST, SOAP,JavaScript)Excerpt from Wikipedia
    14. 14. Open APIs and Mashups
    15. 15. App Contests
    16. 16. Code For America
    17. 17. Directgov | Innovate
    18. 18. Open Government Directive
    19. 19. City Open Gov Initiative
    20. 20.
    21. 21.
    22. 22.
    23. 23.
    24. 24.
    25. 25.
    26. 26. DataSF
    27. 27. City Camp Events
    28. 28. Learn More• Attend a City Camp event• Follow the movers & shakers• Browse existing open data sites
    29. 29. Educate• Get buy-in from management• Spread the message• Start with “low hanging fruit”
    30. 30. Questions? @leslielabrecque