Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

Open Data

  • 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

  • Regulating with Open Data

    A few months ago, I dug into the issue of how state and local governments regulate sharing economy companies that operate in their jurisdictions. I argued that open data should play an key role in a new regulatory approach for these 21st century companies. With a new battle over how the sharing economy is regulated taking shape in the City of… Continue reading

  • Thinking Outside the Portal

    The centerpiece of any government open data effort is usually a data portal. Data portals host open data or provide listings for datasets, and typically include things like license information, data schemas, developer documentation and a host of other details aimed at making it easier for end consumers to find and use data. There is… Continue reading

  • The Outreach Oversight

    I recently had an opportunity to speak about open data at the annual Joint Education Conference of the Nevada Food Safety Task Force. Not the most obvious venue for a discussion of civic collaboration, but I sometimes go where the open data currents take me. And so it was this time. Sandwiched in between talks… Continue reading

  • Philly’s New Mayor is Serious About Open Data

    The big news recently in Philadelphia open data circles is the release of city employee salary information. For the first time ever, the City of Philadelphia will make public – in easily usable formats – salary information on every city employee, including elected officials. This data is now available for anyone to download freely from… Continue reading

  • 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

  • The Future of Civic Tech

    Data is the lifeblood of civic technology. It is the source of all innovation and advancement in civic tech, and is the basis for developing new ways of engaging with voters and taxpayers so that they may be informed about how government works and – hopefully – to help make it operate more effectively. Without data,… 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 Differently About Data

    Right before the New Year’s holiday, the City of Philadelphia released some very important information as open data. The city released a data set showing outstanding property tax balances for properties in Philadelphia, making the data available as both a static download and through an API. I’ve always believed that this data was incredibly important –… Continue reading

  • Open Data and 21st Century Regulation

    In early December, Airbnb made headlines by releasing some data on how people are using the company’s platform in New York City. In doing so, the company has provided an object lesson in the critical role that data plays (and will continue to play) in government regulation of private companies in the 21st century, and… 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.