W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-egov-ig@w3.org > June 2013

... Sunlight Foundation turning gov data into useful apps ...

From: Gannon Dick <gannon_dick@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2013 13:31:56 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <1371846716.74335.YahooMailNeo@web122905.mail.ne1.yahoo.com>
To: Steven Clift <clift@e-democracy.org>, eGovIG IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>
"It is exciting to see the embrace of open gov/civic tech
"for all." It is a sign the movement is maturing from doing cool stuff
to doing important stuff that impact the everyday lives of lots more

Have I got a deal for you, Mr. Clift ...

The GSA has a data base of Agency Committees (FACA: http://www.facadatabase.gov/).  It's packed with useful information which cannot be "used by all" simply because it does not pass the "5th Grader Accessibility/Validation of existing knowledge Test". If you had to encode the web and government for a 5th Grader, your cypher would not be a Web Search Engine "security through obscurity" even with unlimited tries but rather the much older(1883) Kerchoff's Principle(s)[1].  The payoff is: when "Environmental"  means "indoors" and "Interior" means "outdoors" the 5th Grader concludes that the information is correct (but adults are crazy; knew that).

The catch is the data needs to be finite, and it is really helpful if is squeaky clean - "US EPA" and "EPA" are the same not merely sameAs.

I ported the "Committee Interests" to MySQL and ran some example (PDF) Topical Searches.  The PDF's are large, but they are complete and squeaky clean.  Making Apps from the data will not be unusually difficult. Depends on the screen size. Please remember the USA was born bulky.  Version 1.0 had 13 Colonies, sorry.

A zip file of the full use case is: http://www.rustprivacy.org/2013/egov/catalog/FACAinterestAreas.zip

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerckhoffs%27_principle

----- Original Message -----
From: Steven Clift <clift@e-democracy.org>
To: newswire <newswire@groups.dowire.org>; citycamp <citycamp@forums.e-democracy.org>; open-government@lists.okfn.org; eGovIG IG <public-egov-ig@w3.org>; brigade <brigade@codeforamerica.org>
Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 10:24 AM
Subject: Sunlight Foundation turning gov data into useful apps - $4 mil  investment from Knight Foundation

In engaging the "general public" it is crucial to move the open
gov/civic tech movement from "open to all" (but used by relatively few
or folks who "already show up") toward a fundamental embrace of very
diverse communities to move toward "used by all."  Also crucial is
engaging lots of different groups in society in helping define the
priority social challenges around which apps are created at the
beginning of the process rather than at the end.

The other week Sunlight opened their doors to an event -
http://bitly.com/digicivic - on the Pew Civic Engagement in the
Digital Era report - http://bitly.com/pewcivic - that I organized AND
at the Personal Democracy Forum had an excellent panel on Open Gov and
Inclusion. It is exciting to see the embrace of open gov/civic tech
"for all." It is a sign the movement is maturing from doing cool stuff
to doing important stuff that impact the everydays live of lots more
people. (P.S. A Bay area http://bitly.com/digicivic - style gathering
at Code for America is in the work on July 31 or Aug 1 - stay tuned.)

Congrats Sunlight.

Steven Clift

More from Sunlight:


Knight Blog    The blog of the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation
Sunlight Foundation: Open government data made useful

June 18, 2013, 9 a.m., Posted by Marie Gilot – 0 Comments

Above, the Sunlight Foundation app Sitegeist allows users to instantly
access public data about the neighborhood they’re in.

Making government data available is crucial to government
transparency. But that’s not enough. The data must be presented in
ways that are useful to people –regular people, busy people, people
who are not generally inclined to dig through government datasets for
fun. The Sunlight Foundation, a seven-year-old open government
organization based in Washington, D.C., is leading the way by turning
dry government information into useful apps. For example, Sitegeist
uses geolocation to deliver relevant information about a user’s
surroundings using U.S. Census and other public resources. The app is
a hit: It has been been downloaded more than 84,000 times in the six
months since it launched and used about 115,000 times.

To build on that success, Knight Foundation is making a $4 million
grant to Sunlight. With this funding, Sunlight will expand its data
sets, create apps and products that engage the general public (not
just policy wonks) and help make government at all levels more open
and participatory.

The grant is a cornerstone of Knight Foundation’s focus on open
government, which includes investments in a range of projects such as
NYU GovLab, Code for America, Open Elections and Textizen among
others. We will also be announcing the winners of the Knight News
Challenge on Open Gov next week (June 24), at the MIT-Knight Civic
Media Conference.

Our proposition is that governments and anyone interested in open
government should work together to produce tools that make public
information more accessible, searchable and usable.  Sunlight has the
technological know-how to make it happen. Its digital tools were used
to access public information 400 million times in 2012. But what is
truly innovative about Sunlight is that its leaders  have embraced a
human-centered design approach to understand  community needs,
behaviors and personalities and build products that truly connect.

Our hope is that others in the nascent field of open government will
work with Sunlight to adopt the mindset that making government data
useful is the key to making government transparency pervasive and

By Marie Gilot, media innovation associate at Knight Foundation.

Steven Clift - http://stevenclift.com
  Executive Director - http://E-Democracy.org
  Twitter: http://twitter.com/democracy
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072

Received on Friday, 21 June 2013 20:32:25 UTC

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