Uber is not generally characterized as “civic technology” company. But the recent announcement their request API seems like a real game changer to me.
Today, the Uber API team is excited to announce the public release of our Request endpoint. With the Uber API’s initial launch last August, we made it easy to surface information about Uber products within third party applications, but getting a ride always required deep-linking to the Uber app. With the Request endpoint, you can now build applications that incorporate the entire Uber experience.
There are a number of very practical applications that can be built on the Uber platform which have a clear civic value that are now within easy reach of developers.
Continue reading “Getting More Civic In Our Apps”
Its not often that I run across posts about enterprise architecture that get me excited. This one – by Tariq Rashid – did. Very much so.
This issue interests me because its one that, as a former state IT executive and policy advisor, I have personal history with. I also believe its an issue that will have great impact on how successful governments are at redesigning services around users, and embracing civic technology and open data.
Continue reading “Enabling the Enterprise”
If you want to learn more about how design thinking is changing the way that digital public services are being built, you’d be wise to check out the latest issue of Civic Quarterly. It’s full of great insights from some of the best thinkers on this topic.
The idea of building civic technology “with, not for” was a prominent and consistent theme at last year’s Code for America Summit. I think this is a natural evolution in the way we build civic applications and how we can make them more effective. As groundbreaking and revelatory as the first generation of civic apps was, we now have insight into how we can build better, more inclusive civic tech solutions. This is exciting to see.
But as our thinking on civic technology evolves and as we develop new ways to collaborate with governments to build civic tech solutions, it is more important than ever that we pay attention to the fundamentals.
Continue reading “Civic Tech Fundamentals”
When it comes to deriving useful results about the operation of government from open data sets, we have an enormous array of tools at our disposal that we can make use of. Often, we do not need sophisticated or expensive tools to produce useful results.
In this post, I want to use command line tools that are available on most laptops, and others that can be downloaded for free, to derive meaningful insights from a real government open data set. The following examples will leverage *nix-based tools like
sed as well as open source tools that can be invoked from the command line like
The data used in this post is from the NY State Open Data Portal for traffic tickets issued in New York State from 2008 – 2012.
Continue reading “Command Line Data Science”
The recent crash of a quadcopter drone on the grounds of the White House has drawn attention to the absence of final rules from the FAA governing unmanned aircraft – rules that have now been in the works for years.
This one incident almost perfectly encapsulates the difficulty that governments have with keeping pace with changes in technology. Technology can change in a matter of months or even weeks, quickly making it easy and affordable for almost anyone to buy a drone. The process that the government uses to adopt new rules and regulations, that can govern how these newly affordable drones may be used, can take years to become final.
Continue reading “Pursuing Change by Finding Balance”
Interesting story in the Washington Post describing a survey of federal government technology managers.
The big takeaway from this survey seems to be that the majority of IT managers are enthusiastic about new technology and can see how it helps them do their jobs more effectively, but they question the government’s ability to keep pace with the private sector.
Continue reading “On Barriers to Adopting New Technologies”
The benefits of treating data like an operational asset are real, and governments that fully embrace open data stand to benefit the most.
When governments open up data that they make use of themselves to improve revenue collections and other aspects of their operations, its like training at altitude.
Continue reading “Altitude Training for Data”
The Seattle Police Department recently held a hackathon.
When the event was initially announced, there was a fair bit of skepticism in the civic technology community with more than a few people stating that the event would likely not be a productive one, for either the Seattle Police or those that chose to attend. I was one of those skeptics – I thought the event was too narrowly focused and that the problem that attendees would be working to help resolve wouldn’t appeal to a broad enough audience for it to work as the organizers probably hoped.
Continue reading “Hacking the RFI Process”
2014 was a good year. Looking forward to 2015 and much more blogging.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Click here to see the complete report.
“…[U]nless we understand how cyberspace can embed, or displace, values from our constitutional tradition, we will lose control over those values. The law in cyberspace – code – will displace them.”
— Lawrence Lessig (Code is Law)
In his famous essay on the importance of the technological underpinnings of the Internet, Lawrence Lessig described the potential threat if the architecture of cyberspace was built on values that diverged from those we believe are important to the proper functioning of our democracy. The central point of this seminal work seems to grow in importance each day as technology and the Internet become more deeply embedded into our daily lives.
But increasingly, another kind of architecture is becoming central to the way we live and interact with each other – and to the way in which we are governed and how we interact with those that govern us. This architecture is used by governments at the federal, state and local level to share data with the public.
Continue reading “Data is Law”