Crisis Response 2.0
I was excited to be on a panel on “Crisis Response 2.0″ at the Open Government and Innovations Conference here in DC, where we talked about how CrisisCommmons was helping to respond to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. CNN ran a story on how CrisisCommons was developing an oil spill reporting iPhone app being developed and crowdsourcing oil mapping with Ushahidi. Volunteers are sending texts, tweets and email to OilSpill.LABucketBrigade.org where they’re added to a database of oil spill-related incidents.
The Joint Information Center (JIC) coordinating the response to the crisis is posting regularly to @Oil_Spill_2010, a dedicated Twitter account for related information. The JIC has also set up a website, deepwaterhorizonresponse.com, and created a Facebook page at Deepwater Horizon Response. Following the principles set out by the Obama administration’s Open Government Directive, the EPA is releasing oil spill data it collects from monitoring in open formats.
Open Government News
President Barack Obama delivered a commencement speech at the University of Michigan in which he talked about the principles of public service, open government and governance.
The open government plans of federal agencies got a tough audit from the coalition behind OpenTheGovernment.org. NASA, HUD and the EPA excelled. Justice and OMB? Not so much, at least in their initial iteration.
NASA chief information officer Linda Cureton and chief financial officer Beth Robinson blogged about leading the open government movement at WhiteHouse.gov. Given that the NASA open government plan includes flagship initiatives like more collaborative open source software development, the government’s first open-source cloud computing platform, NASA Nebula and the creation of a new NASA Participatory Exploration Office, it’s a safe bet that the national space agency will continue to set a standard for years to come.
Australia’s federal government responded to the report of its government 2.0 task force and launched a new blog, agimo.govspace.gov.au, to help agencies get going with open government. Stephen (@trib) Collins shared first impressions and further reflections on the report. Gartner Andrea Di Miao offered up strong praise for the effort.
Writing about the White House OSTP and Case Foundation innovation event last week, Micah Sifry wondered if prizes, challenges and government inovation are the trimtab Solution.” Jenn Gustetic wrote a lessons from the innovation event.
Can government officials build better policy through online citizen engagement? Cammie Croft thinks so; she’ll be trying it at the Department of Energy this year. And why should those same officials be on Facebook and Twitter to do that? “It’s where the people are,” said David Fletcher, Utah.gov CTO, writing about social media and government.
Beyond the social media realm, government innovation in Manor, Texas by its young CIO, Dustin Haisler, has caught the White House’s eye.
Open data, used in new ways, continues to be useful, as evidenced in NPR’s story on how naval ship logs help scientists trace oceans’ warming. It’s an “awesome story on power of democratizing and crowdsourcing data,” writes W. David Stephenson. It’s also far from the first time that open government data from ships logs has been used to spur technological innovation.
Jolie Odell scored a scoop on the news that five cities will get free civic apps through Code for America, including Boston, Boulder, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. Look for more on that organization next week here at Radar.
Opening government data is an international trend. Across the Atlantic, an Irish open government initiative called YourCountryYourCall.com has now received approximately 10,000 ideas, 13,000 comments and 38,000 votes from 20,000 users.
IDC Government Insight released a report, “Methods and Practices: Introducing the Tagged Data Authority Engine – Assurance and Data Integrity for Government Agencies and Fusion Centers,” that suggests using a meta data process can help improve information sharing accuracy.
For those who track legislation in Congress, IBM has created a nifty data visualization tool for Congressional bills at ManyBills.us.
Virtual USA aids first responders
Virtual USA is a mashup of geospatial data and Web 2.0 technologies used by the Department of Homeland Security to collaborate in crisis response. It’s now being used to collaborate by first responders during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Virtual USA has its roots in “Virtual Alabama,” a secure version of Google Earth that was used to assess damage after tornados touched down. Video:
VIPER, Virginia’s virtual emergency system, by contrast, is is based on ESRI. It was used to provide cross-state situational awareness during “snowmageddon” this past winter.
Many of these virtual platforms are being developed by states. Additionally, the federal government has launched an online platform for emergency responders to collaborate & communicate at communities.firstresponder.gov.
Gov 2.0 Conference in Oklahoma
A government 2.0 conference held out in the Midwest highlighted the innovation happening in many towns and cities, far beyond the marble edifices of D.C. or office parks of Silicon Valley. Gov 2.0a (which stands for “Government 2.0 – Applied”) focused on the “application of increased connectivity and new technologies to better help government achieve its goals by being transparent, participatory and collaborative,” as described on its Facebook page. The presentation by Laurel Ruma embedded below shows how government 2.0 is a national movement.
Paul Monies posted an update on the Gov 2.0a conference on his blog, including his presentation, “Developing a Data Ecosystem: Media’s Role in Gov 2.0.”
Adriel Hampton also recorded an interview for Gov 2.0 Radio with Sid Burgess and OK State Rep. Jason Murphey about the Gov 2.0a conference and open government efforts in Oklahoma.
Open 311 Specification Announced
San Francisco and Washington, D.C. announced the adoption of the Open 311 platform. You can watch craiglist founder Craig Newmark and the San Francisco CIO discuss open government and Open 311 below, in a video from Govfresh:
British General Election
“It’s official: The 2010 British general election has resulted in a hung parliament,” wrote Helene Mulholland in the Guardian election results blog.
. If you were watching from across the Atlantic, it was easy to follow real-time reports of voter woes, too. Tracking results? Follow #ge2010. And if you haven’t been reading techPresident on the British elections online, today is the perfect time to start.
It’s going to take a while for the new British government to sort itself out. What was clear is that British citizens participated online. According to Nancy Scola, a quarter of young British posted election commentary, reports Nancy Scola. In the meantime, if you work in government, this would be an excellent time to consider how government can engage young people online.
Open Government and Innovation Conference
“We’re in an industrial revolution for data,” said Dave McClure, Associate Administrator for GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Communications, during his keynote. McClure cited DataMasher, GovPulse and ThisWeKnow as examples of how services are making data sets actionable. He also emphasized the reality of an Internet whose on ramps lie on the search field and the social Web. “The average citizen interacts with government through search frequently,” said McClure. That’s one reason that when it comes it government transparency, using search data to connect with your audience is key.
When it comes to that social Web, does social media improve government services? “Social media expands our reach to key demographics beyond the newspaper business section,” said Amanda Eamich, who works at the USDA, referring to their information sharing at @usdafoodsafety and Facebook. That insight is apt, given recent research from the Pew Internet Center on citizens going online for government information.
And in the metaphor for the week, Jack Holt, senior strategist for emerging media at the Department of Defense, said “I consider the first high-speed Internet to be hard-surface Roman roads.” Did centurions use cobble modems? Jokes aside, Holt had a good point: both hard-surface Roman roads the Internet were built by government for military uses and subsequently opened to public for commerce.
Adriel Hampton talked with Maxine Teller of MixtMedia Strategies from the second Open Government Innovations Conference on Gov2Radio.
FCC clarifies net neutrality position
As the Wall Street Journal first reported, the FCC will reclassify broadband. Regardless of the policy implications of the agency’s choice to regulate a portion of the Internet, the means by which the F.C.C. chose to communicate its message was apropos of the times: as And, as Nancy Scola pointed out, the FCC tweeted its “third way” out. The F.C.C. has posted the legal framework behind its third way net neutrality policy on its blog at Broadband.gov and uploaded video of Chairman Genchowski to YouTube:
Government 2.0 Bits and Bytes
Out west, Nashville government and citizens using SeeClickFix to resolve flooding problems.
New York City’s MTA held a developer unconference. And, as noted on TechPresident, Greater Greater Washington posted a MTA disruption schedule after DC’s WMATA, well, didn’t.
The Joint Staff released his <a href="social media strategy, embedded below:
According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. government is not making an easy transition to cloud computing.”
A U.S. House panel amended H.R.4900 to make US CTO and cybersecurity czar permanent roles.
Michael Walsh posted an excellent Drupal for government guide at Govfresh.
Susanna Fox wrote a thoughtful post about the power of open data.
Casey Coleman, CIO of the GSA, wrote about accelerating technologies, suggesting to other CIOs that they consider solar energy and health information technology.
The New York Times reported on significant new online privacy legislation that finally entered draft form in Congress.
Also as reported by the New York Times, 10 billion tweets will take up about 5 terabytes of data when Twitter is archived by the Library of Congress.
From a few weeks back, before this review began: the Government Printing Office launched Government Book Talk, a blog whose mission is to “spotlight the amazing variety of Government publications and their impact on ourselves and our world — and have fun while doing it.” Great reviews.
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Phillip J. Crowley joined Twitter as @PJCrowley. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez joined as @chavezcandanga. And while the First Lady isn’t there yet herself, Michelle Obama did send her first tweet on a reporter’s smartphone, as reported by Sunlen Miller.
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this Week in Review incorrectly linked to the federal government of Australia’s response to the report of its government 2.0 taskforce. Thank you to Stephen Collins for pointing out the issue. We regret the error.