Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data

Open Government

  • 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

  • Read My Book

    Late last year, I wrote a book devoted to civic hacking based on my experience working in state and local government, and inside civic tech communities. It’s a book meant for public servants and people working inside government who want to connect with innovators and technologists outside of the bureaucracy. The premise is simple –… 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

  • 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

  • Civic Tech Organizing: A Tale of Two Cities

    In early 2012, I had the opportunity to present at the annual South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, TX. The focus of my presentation was the lessons learned from two civic hacking events in late 2011 that I had helped organize in Philadelphia and Baltimore. This was an exciting time for me professionally. After… 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

  • Civic Onboarding

    Tomorrow, the President will speak at SXSW and issue a call to action for people inside and outside government to collaborate and solve the hard problems facing our country. This is a call to action that governors and mayors should echo – our communities are filled with people that want to help. Reading about the… 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

  • 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

  • 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

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.