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OpenGov Voices: Building a Community of Data Professionals and Opening Government Data, One Meetup at a Time

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guestsean_small blog.

Sean Patrick Murphy and Harlan Harris wrote this post. Sean has served as a senior scientist at Johns Hopkins University for over a decade. When not doing research, he currently advises several startups and provides general data science and learning analytics consulting for EverFi. Follow him on Twitter (@SayHiToSean) or contact him at SayHiToSean@gmail.com Harlan has a PhD in Computer Science (Machine Learning) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and post-doctoral work in Cognitive Psychology at several universities. He currently is Senior Data Scientist at Kaplan Test Prep, and co-organizes Data Science DC. Follow him on Twitter (@HarlanH).

Potential
The greater National Capital Region (i.e. the DC metro area), has always had a wealth of technical talent, waist deep in data, calling the region home. Whether launching satellites at Goddard Space Center in Greenbelt to decrypting messages at the NSA, this region is literally littered with three (or more) letter organizations -- NIH, JHU, DoD, DARPA, AOL, NIST, etc. -- working extensively with data.

Despite this intense concentration of professionals who share this common bond, these groups exist in isolated silos preventing the open dissemination of knowledge and best practices that would accelerate progress across industries. A rising tide of data-expertise would indeed raise all ships.

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OpenGov Voices: Being average is your superpower

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. 000093517 Sandra Moscoso runs the World Bank Finances Program (https://finances.worldbank.org) by day and works on community efforts around education, active transportation, and open government by night. Sandra lives in small, quaint, Washington, DC, where she tries to get a little biking in with her husband and two children. Follow: @sandramoscoso Last week, on my way home from work, I met a young man raising funds for a charity. He stood outside of a subway station and as part of his pitch, he asked, "if you could have any superpower, what would it be?" I offered the same answer I have been giving my children for years. "I have a superpower. It's reading." I suspect this both annoys and inspires my children. Given that annoying and inspiring are among my favorite parental duties, I rather like this answer. Since then, a few things have happened that are making me want to revise my response to that young man. The Sunlight Foundation recently announced its "new major focus" of "local government transparency," and this has me doing a lot of thinking about the work I do within my community and city I live in. I have come to realize something exciting. It turns out I have another superpower - I'm average.

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Opening Government: Oakland’s First CityCamp

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Spike is the Director of Research & Technology with Urban Strategies Council, an Oakland based social justice nonprofit and speaks nationally on data driven decision making and open data. He is the co-founder and captain of OpenOakland, a Code for America Brigade. An Aussie native, he became a dual US citizen last year and voted in his first ever American election.   I recently co-founded an organization called OpenOakland with former Code for America fellow Eddie Tejeda. One of our passions was that we both believe that government can and should be much more than a vending machine. Those of us in OpenOakland (all 20+ volunteers) dig the idea of government as a platform: a platform that supports safe communities, job growth, excellent schools, strategic business development and innovation. When our government operates more collaboratively and genuinely engages with our communities (as opposed to acting as a barrier), it facilitates so much more that can benefit our communities. To many, this is a new concept, but we believe that it matters how we perceive our governments. It's no secret that current local governments have a ton of changing to do, but it's unlikely that these changes will come about swiftly without all of us being involved and engaged and supporting our government staff and leaders to make these changes.

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Creating Tools for Civic Engagement and providing a home for activists and hacktivists

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Tom Tresser is the Chief Tool Builder at the CivicLab. He teaches civic engagement, public policy and creativity at several local universities. In 2009 he was a co-leader of the No Games Chicago campaign and in 2010 he was the Green Party candidate for Cook County Board President. Wouldn’t it be great to have a place to connect with activists, practitioners of civic engagement, inventors and artists interested in social change? A place that is a combination of a lab, a lounge, a theater, a clubhouse and a school for social change. In Chicago there isn’t one that combines all this in a storefront space with a grassroots vibe that invites people to walk in and connect. A gang of like-minded civic scientists and makers are well into the process of designing and launching one! The CivicLab will be civic maker space. Think of Pumping Station One meets FreeGeek meets 1871 meets the Knitting Factory with a dash of open source tool making and the Little Red School House plus CommuniTeach. Chicago is the home of modern community organizing and has also been a hotspot of innovation and research. We want to be a meeting space where old school organizers and educators can meet with new school technologists and designers to do research, teach civics, and build tools that accelerate social change and community improvement efforts.

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Open Source Initiatives Can Strengthen Cities’ Downtown Revitalization

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Jennnifer Wike is an Editor and contributor for Opensource.com, a community service website of Red Hat dedicated to highlighting the ways in which the 'open source movement' is shaping government, law, education, science and technology, and other areas of life. Jen also helps other businesses develop their content strategies and blogs about growth in downtown Raleigh, NC where she lives. Follow her on Twitter or you can contact her at jenn.wike@gmail.com. The open government movement in our country is well underway, though still brand new in terms relative to the pace of the workings of government. Change tends to be delivered slowly, as evident during President Obama’s re-election campaign this year when many of us had to remind ourselves that though some change has trickled down over the past four years, much of it has yet to come to pass due to the inherent processes of government bodies. And yet, it still astonishes me how quickly ‘open’ ideas are being accepted, built and implemented into city governments from the east to west coast.

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CityCamp Colorado – Bringing Innovation to Life

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Scott Primeau is a board member of OpenColorado, a nonprofit organization established in 2009 to promote government transparency and citizen participation. Scott has also been an employee for a Colorado state agency since 2003. He provides project management, policy research and analysis, and customer engagement services. Scott has a bachelor’s degree in public affairs management from Indiana University and is a passionate supporter of improving citizen participation and government collaboration. You can contact him at scott.primeau@opencolorado.org. The third annual CityCamp Colorado took place on October 26, 2012. Almost 140 people attended the event, making it the largest gathering of open government advocates ever in Colorado. The attendees and presenters include city CIOs and IT staff, senior city leaders, Colorado state IT leaders, private enterprises and startups, nonprofits, elected officials and citizens.

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How Washington State is using Legislative privilege to stifle Right to Know

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the guest blogger and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of the Sunlight Foundation or any employee thereof. Sunlight Foundation is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information within the guest blog. Jason Mercier is the Director of the Center for Government Reform at Washington Policy Center. He is also a contributing editor of the Heartland Institute's Budget & Tax News, a columnist for Northwest Daily Marker, a contributing author at State Budget Solutions, serves on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, and was an advisor to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee. In 1972, Washington State voters overwhelmingly enacted Initiative 276, providing citizens with access to most records maintained by state and local government. The new law created the Public Records Act (PRA). The preamble to the PRA says: “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.

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