Civic Innovations

Technology, Government Innovation, and Open Data


  • 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

  • One More Week, Three More Things

    My time as the City of Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer is coming to an end. It’s been an incredible experience – I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great team, and to have helped change the way that government officials think about open data and civic hacking. Before I move on to new things,… Continue reading

  • Communities Matter

    Philadelphia is unique among big cities in how it publishes open data for civic hackers, journalists, entrepreneurs, researchers and other users. The City of Philadelphia has designated the community-built Open Data Philly website as it’s official data directory for open data – we’re the only big city in the country (maybe the only city period)… Continue reading

  • The Lesson of PennApps

    A couple of weeks ago, I attended the most recent PennApps hackathon – a biannual college hackathon in Philadelphia that has grown from somewhat humble beginnings a few years ago to one of the largest college hackathons in the world. Attendance at the event has swelled to over 1,000 participants from colleges across the country,… Continue reading

  • It’s Not About Cheaper, It’s About Better

    The Wall Street Journal recently featured an awesome story about civic hacking, focusing on the amazing work being done in the city of Chicago. It’s great to see the efforts of civic hackers and open data advocates covered in the mainstream press, and the team in Chicago – those both inside and outside of city… Continue reading

  • This Is How It’s Supposed To Work

    Openness in government strengthens our democracy, promotes the delivery of efficient and effective services to the public, and contributes to economic growth. — Federal Executive Order on Open Data, Section 1. People in the open government community talk a lot about the potential and promise of open data. The things that it might enable. The… Continue reading

  • Why Publish Open Data?

    I get this question a lot, particularly from government officials who may still be skeptical about the real benefits. And though I feel like I’ve made the open data pitch a thousand times before, working in city government for the past year has focused me on the practical aspects of this question. What are the… Continue reading

  • Keeping the Faith on Open Data

    A few weeks ago at Personal Democracy Forum, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel discussing “Do’s and Don’ts” for civic hackers. The makeup of the panel was fantastic, and included smart people like Tom Steinberg from MySociety, Catherine Bracy from Code for America, Erie Myer from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and… Continue reading

  • On Data Standards for Cities

    Creating open data standards for cities is really, really hard. It’s also really, really important. Data standardization across cities is a critical milestones that must be realized to advance the open data movement, to fully realize all of the potential benefits of openly publishing government data. More and more people are starting to realize the… Continue reading

  • Open Data and the Digital Divide

    I had the pleasure recently of taking part in a series on WHYY’s Radio Times focusing on Philadelphia Innovators. I got a chance to talk about what the City of Philadelphia is doing to release more open data to technologist, entrepreneurs and researchers in an effort to spur innovation. Host Maiken Scott led a great… 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.