Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data


  • The Changing Role of the Government CDO

    The title of “Chief Data Officer” – once an uncommon one in state and municipal governments – is becoming less uncommon. And that’s a very good thing for public sector innovation. As recently as a few years ago, Chief Data Officers were found almost exclusively in big city governments like Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.… 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

  • Rethinking Residency Requirements

    Residency requirements for municipal employees are a contentious topic among local government officials, city employees, and taxpayers. The idea that city employees will be more invested in their jobs and perform at a higher level if they live in the cities for which they work underpins most of the logic behind municipal residency requirements. Critics… 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

  • Civic Tech: Days of Future Past

    A new focus on the user These days, in the world of civic technology, it’s all about the user. Digital government service redesign, with an enhanced focus on a higher quality user experience, is being institutionalized in the federal governments of the U.K., U.S and Australia. The civic technology community is rallying around a new… 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

  • Pursuing Change by Finding Balance

    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… Continue reading

  • On Barriers to Adopting New Technologies

    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… Continue reading

  • Altitude Training for Data

    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

  • Hacking the RFI Process

    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… 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.