On one hot day last June, along with civic hacking events in 83 cities participating in the first-ever National Day of Civic Hacking, the City of Palo Alto, California, held an outdoor festival of civic innovation. Approximately 5000 people showed up to discover and be inspired by a wide range of technology-related talks and solutions for delivering government in completely new ways. While some software hacking took place, the focus was on beginning both the education and conversation on defining civic innovation and answering why it is so important to all our communities. The festival was a success and was highly praised by the community and at a special event at the White House later in the summer.
Ask yourself how much new value did you create for your organization today? Did you suggest a new way to reengineer a common task that could result in a better outcome? Are your work behaviors keeping you relevant? If these questions are not top of mind for you yet, they will be. Your future employment may depend on being able to answer them with a resounding yes. Why? Read on.
Leaders: You understand the value of technology to your organizations. You know technology can be the difference between competitive advantage and irrelevancy. So I’d like to share with you why I am optimistic about the future of technology and why as leaders we need to be concerned too.
In an era of government deficits, it’s comforting to note that there is an abundant surplus of data. But until recently, leveraging value from data beyond its initial creation and use has been difficult. Today, this picture is changing. A combination of new technologies and a more enlightened emerging leadership is finding innovative ways to put data to work. Beyond much desired transparency and accountability, making government data more easily accessible is creating a wave of valuable community applications. In this video, I discuss this topic, explore best practices, and share my thoughts on civic innovation.
My 8-minute talk at CITRIS at the University of California Berkeley on September 12, 2013. The day-long conference was titled, “Can Open Data Improve Democratic Governance?” I was part of the day when we were asked to take a broad view of the opportunities and challenges presented by the massive volume of public data now available. We were asked to consider how governments and citizens can mine the advantages of greater information while also attending to concerns of privacy, equity and access?
Every community makes it their business to know their unique qualities. Great communities systematically leverage these qualities to sustain and improve their city or town. At the City of Palo Alto, California, we are fortunate to have many assets that collectively make our community a desirable place to live, work, and visit. While qualities such as our parks and tree-lined streets are characteristics of our physical environment, Palo Alto is notable for a population with the highest percentage of graduate degrees in the state, an insatiable appetite for entrepreneurship, and a propensity towards technology innovation. This short article focuses on some of our efforts as a municipal government to specifically leverage our technology community.
The following essay was submitted to the Alliance for Innovation by Jonathan Reichental (Chief Information Officer of the City of Palo Alto) and Sheila Tucker (Assistant to the City Manager) as part of the 2013 Transforming Local Government Conference. The essay summarizes work done at the City that resulted in the Thomas H. Muehlenback Award for Excellent in Local Government.