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Google.org invests $3.7 million in civic innovation through technology - via Sunlight Foundation and mySociety

From: Steven Clift <clift@e-democracy.org>
Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2013 11:34:02 -0600
Message-ID: <CAO9TZ0Vr2Z4k6zHNk3PUSiNE98yBGjBdWstFPeLJ3KxvMeS5DA@mail.gmail.com>
To: newswire <newswire@groups.dowire.org>, citycamp <citycamp@forums.e-democracy.org>, inclusion@forums.e-democracy.org, NCDD-DISCUSSION@lists.thataway.org, democracymap@forums.e-democracy.org, open-government@lists.okfn.org, public-egov-ig@w3.org
Some big big blog posts:


Getting local, going deep, sharing across communities ... I like it!
Congrats to Sunlight and mySociety, I look forward to how your investments
in civic technology will help local communities everywhere. My measure will
be when I see an impact on my hometown of Minneapolis not just those big
cities that get all the cool stuff! :-) - Steven Clift, E-Democracy.org

P.S. On that note, the big big *simple* idea Phil Ashlock and others are
working on at the intersection of local open data and empowering civic apps
that scale down to extreme locality and local democracy is:
http://democracymap.org - Join the online working group:

Google.org's announcement:


Promoting civic innovation through
1/16/2013 08:00:00 AM

The Internet is redefining citizenship in the 21st century. Technology is
helping people to connect, engage, and contribute to society and each other
like never before.

We’ve seen developers use our Civic Information
API<https://developers.google.com/civic-information/>to bring election
data to citizens in new and exciting ways. Our live
election results maps have been viewed by billions around the world,
bringing real-time transparency to elections in Egypt, Mexico, Ghana, and
more. Last week, we launched the Kenya Elections
Hub<http://www.google.co.ke/elections/ed/ke>for citizens to access the
latest news and resources for the country’s
presidential election.

Beyond elections, technology can improve everyday civic life: the way we
connect, engage, access and act on critical government information.
Worldwide, organizations are developing new ways to encourage more open and
innovative societies. Google.org is supporting two of these
leaders--the Sunlight
Foundation <http://sunlightfoundation.com/> and
their work on tech solutions for civic innovation.

We are providing $2.1 million to the Sunlight Foundation to grow their
programs for open government data, with a focus on making civic information
for U.S. cities transparent, available, and useable. By opening up
information at the city level for developers as well as citizens, Sunlight
is creating opportunity for new ideas that can have an impact in local

We are also supporting mySociety, providing $1.6 million to build a global
platform to equip developers with tools and resources--such as open source
code--to more easily and quickly launch new civic apps and services. This
initiative can promote collaboration between civic-minded technologists,
regardless of geography. For example, a civic app created in Finland might
be easily replicated 9,000 miles away by a developer in Chile.

Both organizations are working to bring together a larger
community--governments, developers, companies, nonprofits, and
citizens--with an interest in improving societies. By creating these open
platforms today, we can open doors to ambitious new solutions in the future.

*Posted by Matthew Stepka, VP, Google.org*

mySociety response:

A big thankyou to Google.org – fabulous funding

Written by Myfanwy <http://www.mysociety.org/author/myfnixon/> on January
16th, 2013 in Components<http://www.mysociety.org/category/projects/components/>
, News <http://www.mysociety.org/category/news/>

[image: Growth by KayVee

We’re starting the year with some really wonderful news:
Google.org<http://www.google.org/> is
granting us a fantastic $1.6m, to be spent over two years.

Clearly, this is a significant sum of money, which will really turbo-charge
our efforts to build technologies to help groups like mySociety in
countries around the world. **

We will be using the money to provide developers with open source
technologies to help them to more easily and quickly launch new civic apps
and services. We will also be working with lots of other groups to promote
greater knowledge and technology sharing amongst civil society groups of
all kinds, especially in the accountability sector.

*What’s the problem being tackled?*

Currently, it can take a great deal of work to launch even relatively
simple sites or apps with civic purposes, because the sector is not rich
with mature, sector-specific tools and technologies. This high barrier to
getting started has a bad effect on the range and strength of popular,
impactful civic sites and apps online, globally.

Working with international partners we plan to develop some common, open
source components that will reduce the effort required to launch new
services in a broad range of areas: including accountability, legal,
environmental, political, and more.

mySociety will work with local partners in various targeted regions to help
those partners make the greatest possible benefit from using these new,
common, collaboratively-developed open source components. And we’ll be
working to help them contribute back, both in terms of shared code and
shared knowledge.**

The project will also develop new approaches to bringing together the
global civic-technology community, so that it can collaborate more easily
on new projects.

We’re really excited to see where this project will take us next – and we
are very grateful to Google.org for the increased opportunities their
funding brings us.



Google.org Awards New Grant to
by Ellen Miller <http://sunlightfoundation.com/people/emiller/>Jan. 16,
2013, 11:15 a.m.

[image: The logos for Google.org and Sunlight Foundation for the
announcement of a new grant.]
excited to share the news that Google.org just announced a $2.1 million
Sunlight to expand our mission to open government data. The work will
include everything from extending our policy and data work to the municipal
level to supporting the creation of policy case studies that demonstrate
the power and success of tech-driven transparency to improve civic
engagement and people's lives. Thanks to Google.org's support we will also
be able to expand our mini-grant program to grow the community working
towards a common goal.

This backing is an affirmation of our goals, and we're thrilled to have
Google.org support.

We're eager to get started on this work and honored that another
organization has found the Sunlight Foundation's work worthy of support.
Thank you Google.org! You now join the ranks of our many funders, which
readers can check out on our funding

Stay tuned for more updates about how you can get involved.

Sunlight #2:


Sunlight Goes Local<http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2013/01/18/sunlight-goes-local/>
by Laurenellen McCann <http://sunlightfoundation.com/people/lmccann/>Jan.
18, 2013, 9:53 a.m.

If you caught yesterday's
you may have noticed a new major focus for the Sunlight Foundation:
*local* government
transparency. Broadening our focus to include municipal transparency is
both a natural extension of our work and a unique opportunity to explore
and deepen our general understanding of the ways in which individuals and
governments need, produce, and exchange information. Over the past few
years, we’ve occasionally addressed local issues, but we have never made a
concerted effort to explore what openness at the local level really means
or the implications such work could have for transparency in national and
international contexts.

Municipalities are important because, in a sense, people live more of their
lives in cities than in countries. We may call our nation state “home” when
we need to describe the broadest context of where we’re from, but our days
and nights are spent working and living and sleeping in the reality of
cities and towns. Cities and towns plow and mend the roads that line our
commutes, zone and police our neighborhoods, grant permits to our parades,
and create and clean our public parks. Whether or not you have a family or
a business or a bike, the decisions made by your local government affect
the fabric of the world you physically live in.

This remains true, even when our attention is directed elsewhere: Much of
our political activism and ideological identity are focused on national
issues. Certainly, for Americans, our sense of being a citizen is tangled
in our sense of the national-level issues that often dominate our public
consciousness - our understanding of which freedoms we fight for, which
party we vote for, and the four year stretch between the only ballot box we
think we’re supposed to care about.

To be clear, the federal government has a profound impact on our lives and
is the primary expression of the sovereignty of a people. But to ignore the
role played by local government would be to miss out on the richness of
what local governments create for us.

Our local governments aren't just last-stop service providers for our
federal government. They’re the foundation upon which all political
representation and participation is built. Cities and other local
governments present an unparalleled opportunity for us as citizens to see
our needs, frustrations, and ideas recognized and acted upon, our values
made visible, and our interests reflected in the society that surrounds us.
Our cities are essential drivers of commerce and innovation. Our towns are
critical to our understanding of interdependence, community, and history.
Municipalities are the heart of our culture and our society, and there is
no reason why they should not also be at the heart of our vision for open

In all of Sunlight’s work, we try to balance contributing new ideas and
solutions to important problems while also supporting and learning from the
great work being done by our peers and mentors. As we expand our scope to
local issues, we’re looking forward to learning from efforts we already
know about, such as the work done by our friends at Code for
and the work of new allies we have yet to meet.

A snapshot of what you can expect from us: Over the next year, we're going
to be exploring what the landscape of open data and open access to
information looks like in America's cities and municipalities. In addition
to ramping up our desk-based investigations, monitoring, and commentary,
we're going to get creative, exploring bigger questions about municipal
government and the impact of local culture through a variety of media and
in-person visits. And as we start to pursue this work, we’re looking
forward to working with and hearing from you.

Steven Clift - http://stevenclift.com
  Executive Director - http://E-Democracy.org
  Twitter: http://twitter.com/democracy
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072
Received on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 17:34:32 UTC

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