Today in OpenGov: This should make you feel better about online comments


In today's edition, we wrap up our analysis of comments on draft open data policies, Public Citizen maps the President's business interests, the UN's World Food Program uses chatbots to help fight hunger, and much more.

states and cities

  • What kind of feedback do people give on open data policies? In the third, and final, installment in our series analyzing public feedback on draft open data policies Sunlight fellow Faraz Ahmed looked at the tenor of comments. He found that a "A majority of commenters on draft open data policies recommend changes or ask questions regarding different topics such as privacy, transparency, governance, and feedback opportunities. Out of a total of 164 comments on 9 different open data policies, about 32 percent of them expressed enthusiasm about topics, whereas only a little over 5 percent expressed dissatisfaction." (Sunlight Foundation)
  • Appeals court allows Texas to use controversial voter ID law. In the latest update on this ongoing story, Josh Gerstein reports that a "divided federal appeals court has stayed a lower judge's ruling barring Texas from implementing a revised version of its voter identification law." The ruling will allow the law to be used in elections this November. (POLITICO)
  • Madison, Wisconsin rolls out capital budget map. "The map represents a geospatial depiction of the city’s 2018 capital budget. The capital budget covers one-time expenses such as building and infrastructure projects and is like the city’s construction plan for the next six years." (The Cap Times)
  • How Philadelphia tackled its culture of official corruption. "Following a pay-to-play scandal in the early 2000s, Philadelphia created an ethics board that actually has some teeth. In addition, the city inspector general’s office has been strengthened. Most people working in local government now have a firm sense of what’s allowed and what’s not. By and large, they’ve been staying out of trouble." (Governing)

washington watch

This complicated corporate structure mapped by Public Citizen is just one of many that leads back to President Trump. 
  • Mapping the President's business interests. Using publicly disclosed data, Public Citizen has mapped and analyzed President Trump's vast business holdings and interests. (CitizenVox)
  • Bipartisan group of lawmakers speak out against gerrymandering. "Arnold Schwarzenegger’s push for nonpartisan redistricting gained significant Republican support on Tuesday, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich signing on to his amicus brief at the Supreme Court and Arizona Sen. John McCain filing a separate friend-of-the-court brief," writes Edward-Isaac Dovere. A bipartisan group of 36 current and former members of Congress has also filed a brief. (POLITICO
  • New tools help agencies bring their data holdings into focus. "New data management tools can help provide a real-time, 360-degree view of the data residing across an agency’s IT ecosystem, ultimately driving efficiencies, lowering costs and mitigating risks. This new generation of data management tools can help federal agencies automate the processes of classifying, archiving and discovering data, as well as ensuring that data is protected, regardless of where it resides or where it travels." (FedScoop)

around the world

  • Fighting hunger and food insecurity with chatbots. "The UN’s World Food Program (WFP), has been experimenting with text and Facebook messenger chatbots to monitor food insecurity in hard-to-reach areas, turning smartphones and social media into lifelines for the most vulnerable of refugees." The bots are used to collect data more frequently, from wider audiences, and in areas that may be inaccessible via more traditional means. (Quartz)
  • OECD seeks feedback on their new Recommendation on Open Government. "Building on its existing work, in particular the Report on "Open Government: The Global Context and the Way Forward", the OECD is now developing a new OECD Recommendation on Open Government, which aims to help the countries that will adhere to it, to design and implement successful open government reforms by identifying a clear, actionable, evidence-based, and common framework for the governance of open government." Consider taking a few minutes to learn more and participate in the consultation
  • The end for one of Cambodia's few remaining independent newspapers. Holly Robertson details the end for The Cambodia Daily, which she writes, "could have been mistaken for a community pamphlet, with its flimsy, letter-size pages. But the understated format belied the journalistic rigor and strident reporting of the paper, which on Monday produced a defiant final lead headline amid a crackdown on the media, non-governmental organizations, and the leading opposition party in Cambodia…" (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • New report highlights challenges to open data in Africa. "According to the inaugural Africa Data Revolution Report (ADRR), there is minimal or non-existent collaborations among data communities regarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa's Agenda 2063." (SciDevNet) Our take? Making public information available and accessible to the public should be a priority everywhere.

save the dates

  • September 11th and 12th: Civic Tech Fest and TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. The agenda is up now and you can still get tickets here!
  • September 13th: Civic and Gov Tech Showcase in San Jose, California. "Innovate Your State, in partnership with Microsoft and the City of San Jose, is bringing the 3nd Annual Civic & Gov Tech Showcase to the Capitol of Silicon Valley. The Civic & Gov Tech Showcase is an opportunity to connect with civic minded entrepreneurs, potential investors, and government leaders to showcase the great work that is being done to improve government and governance. The goal of the event is to encourage collaboration and the support of new technologies to improve government and public participation." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 14th – 16th: Digital Humanities and Data Journalism Symposium, in Miami, Florida. "Digital humanists and data journalists face common challenges, opportunities, and goals, such as how to communicate effectively with the public. They use similar software tools, programming languages, and techniques, and they can learn from each other. Join us for lectures and tutorials about shared data types, visualization methods, and data communication — including text visualization, network diagrams, maps, databases and data wrangling. In addition to the scheduled content, there will be opportunities for casual conversation and networking." Learn more and register here.
  • September 26th: Data Transparency 2017, in Washington, DC. Hosted by the Data Foundation, "Data Transparency 2017 is Washington's largest open data event, bringing together government leaders, transparency advocates, and the technology industry to explore how technology can transform government, compliance, and the private sector." Learn more and get your tickets here.
  • September 28th: Powering Sustainable Development with Access to Information, Paris, France. "The 'IPDCtalks' will be held to highlight and elaborate on the importance of Access to Information for all sustainable development efforts around the world. It will consist of a series of attractive and dynamic talks from global public leaders, top journalists, young intellectuals and community leaders. While some of the speakers will elaborate on the key role of Access to Information for the achievement of a particular Sustainable Development Goal, others will reflect on the essential role of Access to Information for our society and future." You can learn more on the event website. If you're interested, but can't attend the event will be broadcast live on the web.
  • October 13th – 14th: 2017 FOI Summit, Nashville, Tennessee. "Music City USA becomes home for NFOIC, state FOI coalitions and open government advocates for the 2017 FOI Summit on Friday and Saturday, October 13-14, 2017.The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and our host, the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government will convene the annual summit at the First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University." You can learn more and register here


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