Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

civic hacking

  • Shoveling for Civic Tech Gold

    Unshoveled sidewalks during the winter months are a persistent problem for cities in the snow belt. For places with significant snowfall, unshoveled sidewalks pose a challenge to public safety and mobility for those that rely on walking (or public transit), and present an especially acute problem for those that have physical impairments. Uncleared snowfall on other kinds of… Continue reading

  • Blood, Sweat & Civic Hacking

    The recent article “Open Data and Civic Apps: First-Generation Failures, Second Generation Improvements” by Melissa Lee, Esteve Almirall and Jonathan Wareham looks at early efforts to build civic applications through government-sponsored app challenges.  The article evaluates the outcomes of some of the early government app challenges like the District of Columbia’s Apps for Democracy Contest… Continue reading

  • Thinking Small on Civic Tech

    Designing simple systems is one of the great challenges of Government 2.0. It means the end of grand, feature-filled programs, and their replacement by minimal services extensible by others. — Tim O’Reilly, Open Government The original idea of Government as a Platform is now almost a decade old. In the world of technology, that’s a… Continue reading

  • Who Uses Civic Tech?

    Who uses civic technology, and why should we care? A new study from mySociety – a non-profit based in the UK that focuses on civic tech – helps us answer these questions and provides some invaluable information for the civic technology community, and for governments. mySociety surveyed civic technology users in four countries to understand… Continue reading

  • Buck the system or work the system?

    “Systems are broken because they exist to sustain themselves, and the people who run the system rely on the system to stay the same. Why should they change it? It works well for them.” — Chris Guillebeau My friends at Philly ran an interesting piece yesterday about the long road to the release of… Continue reading

  • The Civic Hacker Hacked

    “The countercultural trickster has been pressed into the service of the preppy tech entrepreneur class. It began innocently, no doubt. The association of the hacker ethic with startups might have started with an authentic counter-cultural impulse on the part of outsider nerds tinkering away on websites. But, like all gentrification, the influx into the scene… Continue reading

  • Getting More Civic In Our Apps

    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… Continue reading

  • Enabling the Enterprise

    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… Continue reading

  • Realtime Open Data

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about data being collected about cities through remote sensor networks. It’s never been easier to build DIY sensors, and some cities are starting to look seriously at how sensor data can inform better policy decisions and better investment of public resources. It strikes me that this is a very… Continue reading

  • The Collaborative State

    “Civic Hacking” is the awareness of a condition that is suboptimal in a neighborhood, community or place and the perception of one’s own ability to effect change on that condition. The apps are incidental. In 2008, civic hacking was the furthest thing from my mind. Continue reading

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.