Promoting transparency is one of the core principles of
Smart Incentives, so I spent a day last weekend at Transparency Camp, sponsored by
the Sunlight Foundation.
As the web site says, Transparency Camp helps share
knowledge about how to use new technologies and policies to make government
work for the people and to help people work smarter with our government. Code
for America and CityCamp
are two initiatives that have spun out of the program.
So, what did I learn at #TCamp2013?
- There is still a lot of work to do to promote transparency
at the state and local government levels, but groups large and small are
chipping away at it.
- Most of the opengov work focuses on existing data sets that
already use standardized systems for collecting and reporting on data – or
“structured, machine-readable data.” For
example, there appear to be many tools analyzing political contributions at one
end of the spectrum and property data at the other end because the data are
already collected and kept in a structured way.
- A huge part of what opengov people need to do now is
“unlock” data from paper archives and records, PDFs, Microsoft products, and
other legacy systems so that it can be analyzed, repackaged and distributed in
- It does not appear that economic development information is
included in the big opengov/opendata initiatives in places like New York
and Philadelphia – or
anywhere else, for that matter.
- Google.org has provided $2.1 million in funding to the
Sunlight Foundation “to grow their programs for open government data, with a
focus on making civic information for US cities transparent, available and
useable.” They’ve also funded mySociety
to make it easier to launch apps using this data.
In the near-term, I don’t see a great deal of overlap
between economic development and the opengov movement, but I expect the tools
and concepts to migrate over time into our field.