Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

Making Democratic Participation Frictionless

This week, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Emerging Communications Conference & Awards (eComm) event in San Francisco.

I gave a presentation on the convergence of two powerful trends that promise to deliver more and more choices to people in how to communicate, interact and transact with their governments. The first is the growing trend toward more transparent government. By this I mean the efforts by governments around the globe and across this country to release meaningful, high-value data sets in formats that are designed to be used by third-party developers and applications.

Photo by James Duncan Davidson
Photo by James Duncan Davidson

The second is the proliferation of more and more powerful, easy to use tools for developers to build mobile applications – applications that use telephony, SMS, IM and social networking interfaces for interacting with users. I’ve discussed both of these trends at length on this blog in the past, but it was nice to bring them together in one succinct, focused presentation. These two trends are powering disruptive changes, and will have a significant effect on how citizens communicate with their governments in the future.

By enabling the development of new, more sophisticated, more powerful applications, these two trends will enable a greater array of options for citizens in how they interact with government. This choice is central (to my way of thinking) to a vibrant democracy. Healthy democracies are those where participation becomes “frictionless.” Frictionless participation requires choices – the more options people have in how they participate in their democracy, they more likely they are to participate and more active they will become.

I think this is an important discussion, and I hope to have it with more people. You can view the presentation I gave below, or follow this link to SlideShare.

I’m looking forward to watching these two trends develop, and to seeing the good things that come out of their convergence.

One response to “Making Democratic Participation Frictionless”

  1. […] pavement last week to learn about eComm,  I serendipitously came across  Mark Head’s Vox Populi blog and an open government project across the Hudson in New York […]

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About Me

I am the former Chief Data Officer for the City of Philadelphia. I also served as Director of Government Relations at Code for America, and as Director of the State of Delaware’s Government Information Center. For about six years, I served in the General Services Administration’s Technology Transformation Services (TTS), and helped pioneer their work with state and local governments. I also led platform evangelism efforts for TTS’ cloud platform, which supports over 30 critical federal agency systems.

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