Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

civic hacking

  • 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

  • The Promise and Pitfalls of Government APIs

    Fresh off a week in San Diego for the annual Accela Engage conference (where Tim O’Reilly gave a keynote presentation) and some stolen hours over the weekend for hacking together an entry in the Boston HubHacks Civic Hackathon, I’ve got government APIs front of mind. Getting to hear the Godfather of “Government as a Platform”… Continue reading

  • Turning Governments into Data Stewards

    The civic entrepreneurs behind Open Counter recently launched a new service called Zoning Check that lets prospective businesses quickly and easily check municipal zoning ordinances to determine where they can locate a new business. This elegantly simple app demonstrates the true power of zoning information, and underscores the need for more work on developing standard… Continue reading

  • The Hacker Ethos and Better Cities

    The thing I’ve always loved about hackathons is how they make it possible for anyone to build something that can help fix a problem facing a neighborhood, community or city. Going to a hackathon isn’t like going to a government-sponsored meeting, or legislative hearing – those are places where people offer testimony to others, who… Continue reading

  • Making Room For Science

    Interesting things are happening at Philly Hackathons. Increasingly, participants at local events are opting to work on what would best be described as “citizen science” projects – projects not focused on the development of an app as a final product, but where an app or device constructed at the event is the means to a… Continue reading

  • APIs : To Charge or Not to Charge

    There’s a discussion starting on the U.S. Government API Google Group on the subject of charging for the use of government APIs. This is an interesting discussion (one that governments should pay attention to as they develop their API strategies) and is a nice follow up to my last post on sustainable civic technology. Clearly… Continue reading

  • On Sustainable Civic Technology

    Sustaining civic technology will mean that both government’s IT infrastructure and the civic technology sector that builds on it will need to change. A pair of recent blog posts caught my eye and highlighted this theme in my head, and motivated me to capture a few thoughts on this topic. The first post was by… Continue reading

  • 5 Minute REST API

    Inspired by one of Waldo Jaquith’s recent projects to create an easy solution for converting data into a REST API, I wanted to try doing the same thing with a bit of a different approach. Below is a quick screencast demonstrating how to take a CSV file and convert it into a powerful, flexible REST… Continue reading

  • Turning Government Web Content Into APIs.

    Inspired by a recent Open City project that repurposes data on sewage in the Chicago River, I wanted to work through a quick example of turing a web page that houses useful information on water quality in Philly into an API. Here is a quick screencast showing how easy it is to take information rendered… Continue reading

  • Onboarding Civic Hackers

    Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending a civic hacking event jointly organized by Code for Philly and Girl Develop It Philly. The event had a tremendously good turnout – over 50 people by my count – making it one of the larger events Code for Philly has organized in recent months. The… 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.