Transparency Plus!


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My presentation to "Transparency Camp 09", about how to go beyond transparency to an integrated strategy based on "democratizing data" (structuring and syndicating it and providing social media analysis tools to share it). This integrated strategy will provide transparency, give workers the real-time information they need, reform government regulation, cut corporate paperwork, and crowdsource innovation. It may, or may not, cure the common cold under certain conditions.

Published in: Technology, News & Politics

Transparency Plus!

  1. 1. Democratizing Data: Transparency is just the beginning! Transparency Camp Feb. 28, 2009 W. David Stephenson Stephenson Strategies
  2. 2. Transparency by itself vulnerable While you and I know the value of transparency in its own right, transparency initiatives pursued in isolation are vulnerable to shifting concerns, politicial trends, and retribution by entrenched powers.
  3. 3. Democratizing Data Integrates: • Transparency • Agency & Corporate Efficiency • Streamlined Corporate Reporting • “Smart regulation”/ better protection •Crowd-sourcing & public as partners However, as part of an integrated, holistic approach, Democratizing Data insulates transparency, by making it one portion of an comprehensive, unified approach that has so many benefits for all parties that transparency is now part of a mix that becomes hard to attack, with benefits that also include: •increased government agency and private business operational efficiency •Streamlined corporate reporting that will cut their costs •“Smart” regulation that will better protect taxpayers and consumers •Crowdsourcing that will treat the public as full partners in co-creation of services and programs.
  4. 4. Democratizing Data: How free access will transform our lives Ignite Boston Feb. 12, 2009 W. David Stephenson Stephenson Strategies That’s a long way from current reality. Remember the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” when the Ark of the Covenant was moved to a government warehouse? You knew it would never be seen again. Until recently, that was unfortunately the case with data.
  5. 5. Text Fast forward , and lo and behold, in the latest Indiana Jones sequel, Indy retrieved the Ark! In my book, that’s an omen that you can’t keep things hidden forever! Similarly, closely-controlled and long-lost data are being liberated by the growing demand for transparency because of outrage about how TARP money was or was not spent and concern that the stimulus package be as effective as possible, by watchdog groups, the media -- and us. I believe that the transparency issues we are discussing at Transparency Camp are only part of a broader need for reform in how we handle data, whether from government or business.
  6. 6. quot;Democratizing Data makes it automatically available to those who need it, when and where they need it (based on their roles and responsibilities), in forms they can use, and with the freedom to use it as they choose -- while simultaneously protecting security and privacy.quot; It’s time to end the stranglehold on data, and instead democratize it. quot;Democratizing Data makes it automatically available to those who need it, when and where they need it based on their roles and responsibilities, in forms they can use, and with the freedom to use it as they choose -- while simultaneously protecting security and privacy.quot;
  7. 7. <link:roleRef roleURI=' BusinessCombinations' xlink:href='../elts/us- roles-2008-10-31.xsd#bc' xlink:type='simple' /> <calculationLink xlink:role=' disclosure/BusinessCombinations' xlink:type='extended' xmlns=''> <link:loc xlink:href='../elts/us-gaap-2008-10-31.xsd#us- gaap_BusinessAcquisitionCostOfAcquiredEntityPurchasePrice' xlink:label='loc_BusinessAcquisitionCostOfAcquiredEntityPurch asePrice' xlink:type='locator' /> Text <link:loc xlink:href='../elts/us-gaap-2008-10-31.xsd#us- gaap_BusinessAcquisitionCostOfAcquiredEntityCashPaid' xlink:label='loc_BusinessAcquisitionCostOfAcquiredEntityCashP aid' xlink:type='locator' /> 1 , structure, feed data st <link:loc xlink:href='../elts/us-gaap-2008-10-31.xsd#us- gaap_BusinessAcquisitionCostOfAcquiredEntityEquityInterestsIs suedAndIssuable' xlink:label='loc_BusinessAcquisitionCostOfAcquiredEntityEquity InterestsIssuedAndIssuable' xlink:type='locator' /> The first change we need is to switch to a data-centric approach, in which usable data is accessible to all sorts of applications and devices, automatically. That requires structuring data, in formats such as XML or KML, adding metadata that will allow the data to be identified and read by both programs and devices. Equally important, the data must be syndicated, in streams such as RSS or Atom where it will be automatically delivered without any additional effort on users’ part. In fact, Princeton researchers last year released a paper making a startling assertion. They said the single most important step government can take to make web sites that really serve the public is to concentrate its attention on data streams: “Rather than struggling, as it currently does, to design sites that meet each end-user’s need, we argue that the executive branch should focus on creating a simple, reliable and publicly accessible infrastructure that exposes the underlying data”
  8. 8. Transparency begins at home 2nd: give workers data & tools needed Once you’ve structured the data, the challenge and opportunity is to find as many ways as possible to use it to radically revise policies and procedures that, for too long, were artificially constrained by the difficulty in compiling and distributing data that you have now removed. Provide it first to your workers, in varying combinations determined by their roles, to help them have the real-time, and often, location-based, information they need, especially in hard times when work forces are reduced and they must take on additional duties, to do their work more efficiently. After all, agencies’ employees may be struggling with incompatible data bases, may need to reach across agency “silos” to see if there might be synergies between programs, and employees from another agency may be able to provide new insights simply because of their differing life experiences and expertise. Make certain that you don’t just give your workers the data, but also the tools they need to be able to work with those data, including ones that, for the first time give them the opportunity to analyze the data collaboratively, a fundamentally different approach than isolation by individual analysts. When you do that… .
  9. 9. Data-centric Organizations … your organization will be data-centric, with data at the middle of everything, equally accessible to a wide range of apps and machines. That doesn’t incidentally, require that you have massive data warehouses: the data can reside where it was created, but it is instantly accessible to all, and that changes everything!
  10. 10. “..if becomes .. core of .. ambitious quot;smart regulationquot; switch, .. could cut corporate costs, improve governmental efficiency, and produce the kind of transparency the stimulus program demands.” Then you can use the same approach to data to transform regulation. In a HuffPost op-ed this week, I argued that, which is so important to the credibility of the stimulus program, should not be seen as an isolated transparency program, but as the beginning of a coordinated, government-wide “smart regulation” approach, based on …
  11. 11. .. A successful program that has been underway in the Netherlands for several years, the Dutch Taxonomy Project, which gives companies the option of filing a single XBRL file with the government rather than the 30-40 separate reports that they filed in the past. Because the data is structured, each agency can automatically retrieve the information it needs from this file, and they also have the option of simultaneously accessing it, so that regulation and enforcement can be coordinated, rather than isolated and sequential. The bottom line? Regulation is improved while companies are able to save 25% on their compliance costs -- a win-win situation!
  12. 12. Text Text Transparency through data feeds Next, meet transparency goals, and spark innovation, with external data feeds. Several federal and state agencies now publish a variety of data feeds. The most exciting model in the US is the District of Columbia’s Citywide Data Warehouse. It provides real-time numerical and geospatial feeds, drawn from more than 250 data sets, ranging from crime reports to to building permits to all purchase orders over $2,000. Anyone may access the feeds. In fact, a major reason why they are issued is to invite the media, community groups and watchdog organizations to examine -- closely -- the District’s internal operations, and to hold them accountable. After a long legacy of corruption, the DC government is earning public confidence, not through patronizing platitudes, but a transparent “don’t trust us, track us” invitation to check the facts. Given the loss of confidence in the federal government and industry in the wake of the financial collapse, it is urgent that they follow the District of Columbia’s lead
  13. 13. •$50,000 •30 days •47 apps •4,0000% ROI! Text Make citizens co-creators Finally, on the cutting edge of democratizing data is to use it to invite your customers or citizens to become co-creators. That’s what my co-author, Vivek Kundra did as Chief Technology Officer of the District of Columbia. His Apps for Democracy contest was open to any developer, anywhere. They were invited to use one or more of DC’s data feeds, and create an open source app that would benefit the public. In one month, developers created 47 different usable apps, at a total cost to DC of $50,000 -- $20,000 of that for prizes -- an estimated ROI of 4,000% Now that Vivek is reportedly about to be named director of e-gov for the Obama Administration, look for this same sort of innovative public partnership to be replicated nationwide.
  14. 14. Benefits: •More informed policy debate •Consensus building •Better legislation •Transparency •Less corruption •Efficiency •Lower costs •Co-creating The potential benefits of democratizing data are many, and varied: • more informed policy debate, grounded in fact, rather than rhetoric • consensus building • better legislation • greater transparency and less corruption: greater accountability • optimizing program efficiency and reducing costs: • new perspectives, especially when “the wisdom of crowds” emerges. Who would have believed that dry data -- with a healthy dose of Web 2.0 magic -- could become the engine to involve the public in governmental transformation!
  15. 15. watch for “Democratizing Data,” coming in July from O’Reilly Media! W David Stephenson Stephenson Strategies 335 Main Street, Medfield, MA 02052 508 740-8918 To learn more about transparent government and how to create the processes and policies to make it a reality, contact: Stephenson Strategies 335 Main Street, Medfield, MA 02052 (617) 314-7858 .. and watch for Democratizing Government, to be published in July by O’Reilly Media