Gov 2.0 Week in Review

Open government, open data, moving .gov into the cloud

So what is Gov 2.0? This past week saw wide-ranging discussion about the meaning, substance and relevance of the term, along with plenty of other news related to social media in government, open data, improved crisis response through technology and a move to the cloud.

Tim O’Reilly went live online to talk about his paradigm for government as a platform, including how technologists can play key roles in this important transformation. You can also read Tim’s thoughts on open government at O’Reilly Labs. The recording is embedded below, after the jump. J.D. Lasica wrote a terrific review of both “Open Government” and the webcast.

Mark Drapeau took a look back at the three phases of government 2.0 as the first Gov 2.0 Expo draws near. Federal News Radio anchor Chris Dorobek also stepped back and published an important “mile high” perspective in his Gov 2.0 status report. Time to get ready for the Gov 2.0 Expo!

What does “Government 2.0″ mean?

The simplest way of describing Government 2.0 may be any technology that helps citizens or agencies solve problems, either for individuals or the community, and enables government to operate more efficiently or effectively. This past week, I wrote about five ways that the U.S. government is using social media to deliver services or engage citizens in making better policy.

Craig Newmark shared his thoughts on better government through enlightened customer service, along with the complexities of electronic privacy, online identity and trust.

Exploring what’s next in open government

Gov 2.0 Expo 2010This past week, we also featured an interview with the director of open government at the White House Office and Science Technology Policy, Beth Noveck, on participation, collaboration and next steps for open government. Noveck highlighted Crisis Commons and its distributed collaboration with government in disaster response, along with a number of other ways participatory democracy can be enabled by technology.

What would change if information sharing became the rule rather than the exception? Maxine Teller considered the scope of open government at the Department of Defense.

Could there be better government through code? Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka wants to empower developers to become civic coders. “Ask not what your country can code for you — ask what you can code for your country.”

When it comes to new media, the @Smithsonian is all in. James Turner posted a terrific interview with Michael Edson on how the Smithsonian uses crowdsourcing and transparency to further its mission.

National Lab Day was celebrated around the country yesterday. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden blogged about National Lab Day at

In a speech delivered to the Free Press Summit at the Newseum, F.C.C. commissioner Mignon Clyburn said that “a thriving democracy depends on an actively engaged, informed public,” emphasizing that “two-way conversation is essential for good governance.” That dialogue continues at 2.0 is in the cloud

The White House moved to the cloud, shifting hosting to Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud. The move is “one of the first bricks in the foundation,” said federal CIO Vivek Kundra during the press conference. “Part of what we’re trying to introduce is Darwinian pressure in federal IT.” Gartner analyst Andrea Di Maio wondered, however, if the move to Recovery was really the first time a .gov was hosted in the cloud.

Crisis Response 2.0: Haiti, Tennessee and the Gulf Oil Spill

The State Department hosted its first Ignite-style meetup, hosted by Radar’s own Brady Forrest. The Haiti Tech meetup featured rapid-fire talks and panels on the innovative response of the technology community to the earthquake in Haiti.

While Haiti is still is in tough shape, the attention of the government agencies, media and first responders has necessarily moved to addressing the growing environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and record flooding in Tennessee. FEMA and TEMA set up a Facebook information page for the Tennessee flood. The flood has now caused an estimated $1.56 billion dollars in damage, along with taking the lives of at least 24 people. The Boston Globe’s Big Picture photo blog posted arresting photojournalism of the flooding in Tennessee.

There are many ways to follow the Gulf of Mexico story other than cable news or searching for #oilspill on Twitter. Louisiana has a dedicated channel for all information: the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (@GOHSE). It’s an active Twitter stream with maps and detailed information posted continually about the oil spill. The National Wildlife Foundation posted seven ways to use technology and social media to help wildlife impacted by the Gulf oil spill. More information can be found on the main page, where you can download the Google Earth .kmz file of Louisiana from the Governor Office of Homeland Security for Louisiana and make your own map mashups. If you would like to show support for the Louisiana coast, you can download the following image to use for your own Twitter background:


Upcoming Gov 2.0 Events

Aside from the upcoming Gov 2.0 Expo here in DC, there are a number of important events in the near future. The Personal Democracy Forum will be held in New York City on June 3-4.

Health 2.0 will come to Washington on June 7.

Digital Capitol Week will also kick off in the nation’s capitol on June 11th.

The folks that make up Colorado Smart Communities Labs are hosting Gov 2.0 Camp Rocky Mountains on June 12, 2010 at the Silicon Flatirons Center at CU School of Law in Boulder.

Carl Malamud will be speaking about at the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School on June 18.

Government 2.0 Bits and Bytes

Twitter vs. potholes? TweetMy311 went live in San Francisco.

The GSA’s new media team posted a federal social network project FAQ (@FedSpace).

Andy Oram shared his thoughts (and paper!) on open source in government after attending the Politics of Open Source Conference.

There was another NASA tweetup for the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. You can see pictures in a Flickr group, follow @NASATweetup, or tune in to the #nasatweetup stream on Twitter.

ZDnet blogger Mike Krigsman published a useful podcast with Rick Howard, CIO for Oregon’s Department of Human Services, on success, failure and innovation.

As the BBC reported, repeal of the Digital Economy Bill in Britain appears unlikely under the new government. One important element of the story is that Ministers of Parliament essentially ceded that email appears broken as a means for citizen feedback on legislation, due to massive influx of automated messaging.

The staff of the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, decided to standardize all of the official new media accounts as “@Number10gov,” ensuring consistent branding with the website, While this correspondent still prefers the clarity of @10DowningStreet, c’est la vie.

The 2010 Census participation map provides a cool data visualization of results by state, city, zip code, and neighborhood of the return rate for the 2010 census. You can compare communities to see which ones had the highest participation. Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana lead the field.

Facebook added a section for Congress that aggregates news and case studies about how members are using the world’s largest social network. The news that Facebook is making it easier and more secure for members of Congress to reach constituents may be somewhat lost in the past week’s privacy kerfluffle.

A great new book by Jonathan Tisch launched, entitled “Citizen You,” that features SeeClickFix and other Gov 2.0 startups.

New Brunswick added a “Minister Responsible for Public Engagement” to its cabinet.

Can the GIS community provide a platform for engagement that empowers citizens? The Spatial Roundtable is addressing that question and others.

Is a second generation of Gov 2.0 initiatives rising out west? Arvada’s open data catalog shows promise.

The New York City 311 system has now taken over 100 million reports, according to Government Technology. “Before 311, if you wanted to get non-emergency information, there were 11 pages of phone book numbers to plow through, and even if you found the right number, getting the right person was often hit or miss,” said Mayor Bloomberg in a prepared statement quoted in the piece. “Not anymore. But 311 is much more than a number to call. It’s been a key to making city services more efficient and accountable.”

Edmonton is pushing the Gov 2.0 envelope with Second Life, writes SwimFish CTO John F. Moore, who interviewed Edmonton’s CIO, Chris J. Moore, on his goals.

Could “GovDecoder” be a “StackOverflow for government? Matthew Burton and Josh Knowles are fundraising through Kickstarter.

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  • Christopher Dorobek

    Great round-up… and thanks for including my gov 2.0 piece.

    The only other story that I’d add: OPM’s efforts to reform the government hiring process

    The hiring process has long been a big issue for getting the best and the brightest in government. And particularly, one of the first relationships between potential new hires and government were filling out KSAs — these essays that nobody fully understood.

    It will be interesting to see how these changes roll out… and the impact they have.

  • Christopher Dorobek

    And while I’m mentioning it, I just pulled together the DorobekINSIDER reader on the OPM hiring reforms — find the links to the memo, the audio of OPM Director Berry himself… and news coverage of the announcement last week.

  • Simon Baker

    Wow, the New York city 311 system must be highly efficient to be able to take in and process those 100 million reports, goodness me. Sometimes these things feel like just numbers, but they really are outrageous numbers. The government has acted much more responsibly now that they are accountable and more open, and more open is always better in my opinion. Although some may argue that being transparent can lead to vital information falling in the wrong hands, I still feel that a transparent government with open communication is a good one. Thanks for this review.