Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

Data Science

  • Ethics and Algorithms

    Ethics and Algorithms

    Who do we hold accountable for decisions that get made or actions that are taken by government when some part of the decision making has been ceded to an algorithm? And because the consequences of algorithm use in government are now much more immediate for specific individuals, how do we ensure that their use is… Continue reading

  • Towards Ethical Algorithms

    Old tools & new challenges for governments There is a common misconception that data-driven decision making and the use of complex algorithms are a relatively recent phenomenon in the public sector. In fact, making use of (relatively) large data sets and complex algorithms has been fairly common in government for at least the past few… Continue reading

  • Operation Data Liberation

    I’ve had the opportunity recently to talk to people in several different city governments that are facing a common challenge — how to liberate operational data from a legacy system. This is a challenge that lots of city governments face, and it strikes me that there are some common lessons that can be derived from cities that… Continue reading

  • Building the Government Data Toolkit

    We live in a time when people outside of government have better tools to build things with and extract insights from government data than governments themselves. These tools are more plentiful, more powerful, more flexible, and less expensive than pretty much everything government employees currently have at their disposal. Governments may have exiting relationships with… Continue reading

  • Coming Back from the Brink

    Last August, a study from the Century Foundation identified cities in Upstate New York as places with some of the highest concentrations of poverty for African American and Hispanic populations anywhere in the nation. The problem is particularly acute in the City of Syracuse which holds the  distinction of having the highest level of poverty… Continue reading

  • Fast Cars and the Magical City of Tonawanda

    Getting a speeding ticket in the State of New York can be a traumatic – and expensive – experience. Drivers convicted of speeding often face penalties and fines, and repeated or excessive offenses can result in the loss of a license. But in some places in New York State, drivers issued a speeding ticket may… Continue reading

  • Command Line Data Science

    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… 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.