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25 May 2010 ~ 0 Comments                                       

Government 2.0: Government As Platform

As the Gov2.0 Expo kicks off this week I wanted to highlight a few notable open government/government 2.0/gov2.0 goings-on.

Manor Labs aims to collect user driven ideas for improving their city. Once those ideas receive a sufficient number of votes it moves into the validation stage where the relevant department head determines if it is a useful, viable project to undertake. In the emergent stage all department heads discuss ease, cost, and value of undertaking it. Finally, the project is either implemented or rejected at which point the community is told why the decision was made.

“Manor Labs is the official research and development division of the City of Manor, Texas. Manor is a small, but growing, community of about 6,500 innovators (citizens) located on the outskirts of Austin.”

So far they have deployed Manor Labs itself (which runs on Spigit) and QR codes which are 2d bar codes that are posted at locations throughout the city. These bar codes — when photographed by a cell phone with the right app — link to a URL which displays information about that location. Other projects likely to be implemented relate to RFID tags, Google Waves, Android apps, and Augmented Reality. They have even incorporated some gaming aspects to the site ranking users based on reputation and contribution to the community. (Users gain Innobucks which can be turned in for things such as a t-shirt or a ride-along with the Chief of Police.)

I have talked a lot here about the use of feedback in product design, but this illustrates one of the early steps in using it as direct feedback for running a city.

Data.gov is an initiative to open the varied data sets housed within government agencies and opening them up in a standardized form in one centralized site. Opened a year ago with 46 data sets it has exploded to 272,000 sets. If you believe the old saw about sunlight being the best disinfectant, setting these data sets loose on the world where they can be mashed up, made into powerful infographics, and analyzed, this is an unvarnished good. Many times hard-fought, contentious bills are enacted with little to no follow-up. This data will help expose which projects worked and which did not and where we are spending our money. I hope the administration continues to add to these data sets and that they become integral as the back-end to countless apps and sites, thereby making it very difficult to shut down.

Other interesting related links:

    EveryBlock: Tracks information and events down to the block level.
    Sunlight Foundation: “Making government Transparent and Accountable”
    USASpending.gov: “Users can search anything from bombs to toilet paper and filter government spending by location, timeline, agency, extent competed, recipient, product/service code, NAICS and fiscal year.”
    OpenGovTracker.com: Tracking ideas and votes across the web across various government agencies.
    What does Government2.0 look like?

Democrat, Republican, Green, or Libertarian you have to love a more transparent government.

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