Today in OpenGov: Progress on Vision Zero


Happy Friday the 13th! We hope it’s not a day of ill luck for you and yours. Today, we look at Vision Zero, where data is a key tool in the fight against traffic fatalities, highlight Trevor Timm’s piece responding to President Trump’s latest attacks on the press, call attention to the need for funding boost for the U.S. Census Bureau, and much more.

states and cities

[Image Credit: Vision Zero cities in the United States, via Vision Zero Network.]
  • Data-driven approaches are helping to reduce traffic fatalities in cities around the world. “In the past few years, many Vision Zero strategies have leveraged the power of data and technology in order to reduce deadly collisions. Cities have analyzed historical crash data to understand where crashes happen most often, what conditions correlate with collisions, and what road users are most vulnerable. Using this information, they have been able to target interventions in the areas that need them most.” (Data-Smart City Solutions)
  • A Chicago civic hacking group issued an open data pledge to Illinois gubernatorial candidates. “One of Chicago’s most prominent civic tech groups, Chi Hack Night, has invited candidates in the Illinois gubernatorial race to sign a pledge to support open data in the event that they win, subsequently posting a checklist of who has done so on its Website.” (Government Technology)
  • Good idea: the FCC might ask ISPs to get more specific about where they offer service. “The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether it should collect more accurate data about broadband deployment in the US, but cable and telecom lobby groups are urging the FCC to maintain the status quo.” (Ars Technica) Our take? In this case, more detailed data will equal more useful data. We think the FCC should go through with this, more accurate, data collection.
  • A model freedom of information policy is sparking controversy in Tennessee. “Some Tennessee lawmakers and open records advocates argue it is a citizen’s right to take cellphone photographs of public records, with some restrictions. But a Tennessee Office of Open Records Counsel model policy has stirred a statewide dispute over what rights are guaranteed in Tennessee open records law.” (The Tennessean via NFOIC)


  • As we noted yesterday, President Trump’s threats against the media are an attack on the First Amendment. Freedom of the Press executive director Trevor Timm argues that there’s a “compelling argument Trump is in violation of Constitution right now—after he crossed the line from criticism of protected speech to openly threatening government action.” (Columbia Journalism Review)
  • The president’s choice of AccuWeather CEO to head NOAA carries a cloud of conflict. Barry Meyers’ “nomination to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is stirring criticism from people who worry he would hobble the weather service, which provoked an industry backlash more than a decade ago by making hour-by-hour forecasts, cellphone alerts and other consumer-friendly data widely available online.” (POLITICO)
  • The U.S. Secret Service has paid Mar-a-Lago more than $60,000, potentially financially benefiting POTUS. “The U.S. Secret Service paid tens of thousands of dollars to President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in the span of a few months, according to documents obtained by CNN.” (CNN)
  • Deleted tweets and user data may hinder Russia probe. “Twitter has deleted tweets and other user data of potentially irreplaceable value to investigators probing Russia’s suspected manipulation of the social media platform during the 2016 election, according to current and former government cybersecurity officials.” (POLITICO)

washington watch

  • Commerce Secretary calls for a big boost in census funding. “The 2020 U.S. Census will require $15.6 billion — $3.3 billion more than estimated in 2015 — after a government review found that technological upgrades would be tougher to implement and save less money than previously thought, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told lawmakers on Thursday.” (Bloomberg)
  • Representative Chris Collins may have violated federal law and broken house Ethics rules. “Representative Chris Collins of New York may have violated federal law by sharing nonpublic information about a company on whose board he served, according to a report released Thursday by the Office of Congressional Ethics.” The House Ethics Committee plans to further review the findings. (New York Times) You can read the OCE’s report here.
  • Congress sent new whistleblower protections to President Trump, who is expected to sign a law. “The House unanimously cleared legislation on Thursday to ensure protections for federal employees who disclose government waste, fraud and abuse. Passed 420-0, the measure would train federal workers so they understand their protections, as well as enhance penalties for supervisors who retaliate against whistleblowers.” (The Hill)

One sentence or less

  • Alexis C. Madrigal takes a deep dive into Facebook’s effect on on American Democracy. (The Atlantic)
  • The White House is looking for ways to bring more short term tech talent into government. (NextGov)
  • A judge limited the amount of personal information DreamHost has to turn over from an anti-Trump website. (POLITICO)
  • 263 days of false and misleading claims by President Trump. (Washington Post)
  • Christa Slaton explained how “drain the swamp” is nothing more than a convenient rallying cry for the President. (London School of Economics)

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