Civic Tech Roundup: January 25, 2017

Seattle happenings

  • On January 17 and 18, the City of Seattle hosted a two-day workshop on “Big Data and Human Services” at City Hall, bringing in speakers and attendees from all over the country. (GeekWire)
  • Consider.It, the tool and company used by the City of Seattle to engage the community around the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), was profiled this week in GeekWire. (GeekWire)

 

National news

  • Big news for the civic technology world: According to Garrett Lansing, the new White House Chief Digital Officer, the U.S. Digital Service is “here to stay” – and so is acting administrator Matt Cutts, who recently quit his job at Google to stay in government. This answers one of the biggest questions the community had for the incoming administration, while raising many questions about what the agency will look like in the future, given that this is only the second administration – and first Republican administration – under which its employees will serve. (Politico)
  • Outgoing White House official Cecilia Munoz, who was behind projects such as the College Scorecard, is moving to New America, where she will create a national network for civic technologists. (StateScoop)

 

New tools

  • Cities across Europe and the U.S. are using technology to engage their publics in city planning. From CitySwipe (“Tinder for cities”) in Santa Monica to Flux Metro in Austin, local governments are hoping to make the change happening around people easier to influence and understand. (The Guardian)

 

Must-reads

  • Are bots the future of political activism? Carl Miller makes the case, in Wired. (Wired)
  • In “Hacking the Army,” Kate Conger explores one of the approaches the Defense Digital Service (part of the U.S. Digital Service) has taken to protecting the U.S. military against hacking attempts – “bug bounties,” contests for hackers to find vulnerabilities in the system before hostile agents do. Said outgoing Secretary of the Army in this article: “I have no better idea than you what will happen with the next administration, but I don’t think that the need for and the value of programs like this are really disputed by anybody.” (TechCrunch)
  • Researchers in the UK recently collaborated on a study of “what role digital technologies can play in helping to support people affected by domestic abuse.” Their just-released reports contain research findings as well as design principles, user experience maps, and suggested solutions that civic technologists could take on. All of it is available at techvsabuse.info; the funder, Comic Relief, is accepting proposals for potential tech solutions within the UK.
  • Knight-Mozilla Open News Fellow Lisa Rost recently gave a talk called “A Data Point Walks into a Bar” that directly addresses the connection between data and feelings and has some insights for anyone using data or data visualizations to communicate human experiences. (Chaos Computer Club)


  • Civicist presented “An Inclusive Vision for Democratic Technology,” calling out specific ways that technology makers can include historically marginalized populations. While the author is writing for a partisan audience, the suggestions could work for any organizations that works to engage diverse communities. (Civicist)

 

Upcoming events

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Thursday, February 2, 11:45 am-1:00 pm at the Center for Architecture & Design, 1010 Western Ave: “Open Sidewalks: How Open to All?” is an opportunity to learn more about the Open Sidewalks project. Presented by the University of Washington Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, within the AIA exhibit “Open to All: Designing for the Full Range of Human Experience.” Free.

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.

Civic Tech Roundup: January 11, 2017

Seattle happenings

  • GovTech published a new piece summarizing the City’s snow “hackathon” on December 15th. As the City makes any updates to snow preparedness on the technology front, we will keep you posted here.

 

National news

  • Uber teased a new website, Movement, that visualizes its traffic data for ease of exploration by transportation professionals, urban planners, and the general public. (TechCrunch)
  • The White House published a report called “Try This at Home” that shares its best practices from the last 8 years of government innovation, for possible implementation at the state and local level. (White House)
  • The City of Long Beach just released 100 new spatial datasets on a new, location-centric open data portal, DataLB. The portal offers a number of easy-to-explore maps and other contextual information. (RouteFifty)

 

New tools

  • The “Party of Lincoln” app is getting a lot of attention this week, though it was released in September. It claims to be a non-partisan resource guide that facilitates voter registration, changes to party affiliation, and a resource for information on candidates and measures. It joins a growing collection of applications designed to facilitate engagement with the political process.
  • D-CENT describes itself as “a Europe-wide project creating open, secure and privacy-aware tools for direct democracy and economic empowerment.” Tools in use include a participatory budgeting platform in Reykjavik, a notification platform in Helsinki, and policy development platforms in Barcelona and Madrid, as well as electronic voting and other cutting-edge ideas. The project is a partnership of a number of European organizations, including UK innovation foundation Nesta and the Open Knowledge Foundation.

 

Must-reads

  • Vicki Sellick, Director of the Innovation Lab at Nesta, wrote that volunteering from home is about to become as common as working from home. Technology is opening opportunities for volunteerism, both for technology builders (such Red Cross volunteers mapping the Ebola crisis from oceans away) and for casual users (such as peer-to-peer support networks and tutoring via the web or SMS). She also notes the ways people can “donate” data for good causes, linking to a number of existing and upcoming opportunities. (Nesta)
  • Fast Company interviewed Ariel Kennan, a designer at the City of New York, for its “Designing Women” series. Kennan, an alum of the Code for America Fellowship program, works in the City’s Center for Economic Opportunity. She has worked on projects like the City’s new street homelessness initiative, HOME-STAT, as well as deeper efforts to build design capacity across the City. (Fast Company)
  • GovTech released a “Year in Tech” review, spotlighting open data, civic engagement, expansion of tech in state and local governments, and big moves in the industry. It’s a quick roundup of all the major events of the year and a window into emerging trends. (GovTech)

 

Upcoming events

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Wednesday, January 25, 10:00-11:30 am @ Impact Hub Seattle: “Community Cross-Pollinators: Technology + Social Impact.” Free. (RSVP)

 

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.

Civic Tech Roundup: December 29, 2016

Seattle happenings

  • The Let It Snow! Community Design Workshop presented by the City in partnership with Substantial and Open Seattle was a success, with approximately 30 participants across government, the tech industry, and community members. The event received widespread media coverage, including television coverage from Q13 Fox, radio coverage on KNKX, and online coverage at Geekwire, Madison Park Times, and 21st Century State. You can read more about the event on the Substantial blog as well, or dig into datasets, either by exploring these direct links or going to data.seattle.gov and typing “storm response.”

National news

  • Here’s one way to end 2016 with a bang: New York City announced that it is building a 254,000 square foot facility to facilitate civic technology work. It will include classrooms, meeting rooms, office spaces, and a food hall. Activities will be managed by the existing nonprofit Civic Hall, and will include tech education in partnership with General Assembly as well as work to advance social equity through technology through partnership with Coalition for Queens. At a cost of around $250 million, this marks the largest investment yet by a municipal government in civic technology. (StateScoop)

Must-reads

  • Tom Friedman was a guest on Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode podcast and broke a small section of the internet with his comments on technology, policy, and social change. The podcast covered a wide range of subjects emerging from his new book, Thank You for Being Late. He traces many of the innovations at the turn of the century to the dramatic drop in the cost of connectivity starting in 2000 – and the increase in the spread of ideas and the devolution of greater power to individual people that came with it. The interview covers ethics, education, the new economy, media, social media, social change, and fake news, among others, and puts the civic technology movement in a broader context. (Recode)
  • Fast Company documents the huge range of technology-related activities at the federal level that the Obama administration has introduced and developed over the last 8 years, including ambitious data projects, the recruitment of pioneering tech experts, and the development of structures that allow these activities to take place at a greater scale. There are many open questions about how this infrastructure will be used by a new administration, and those who started it hope that their legacies of encouraging citizen participation, more effectively delivering government services, and building trust will continue. (Fast Company)

Upcoming events

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Wednesday, January 25, 10:00-11:30 am @ Impact Hub Seattle: “Community Cross-Pollinators: Technology + Social Impact.” Free. (RSVP)

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.

Civic Tech Roundup: December 15, 2016

Hi folks – this was slated for publication on December 15 but got held up in reviews due to approving staff out of office. We’re publishing today (December 20) but the content is written for December 15 publication. You can expect the next edition on December 29.

Seattle happenings

  • Today’s civic tech-focused edition of local newsletter The Evergrey featured Open Seattle and its lead organizer/founder, Seth Vincent. After highlighting the projects Open Seattle has worked on since late 2012, the authors note that, “today Open Seattle is at a crossroads. After the election we just had, people around the city want to work together in what feels like drastically uncertain times. And Open Seattle, which has struggled to complete some of its projects and to draw a broad selection of people to design and lead them, is looking for new energy.” Tuesday’s Meetup focused on the future of the group. You have until January 17 to apply to be an organizer of Open Seattle.
  • Seattle Department of Transportation’s Winter Weather Map was highlighted by several media outlets as we faced the first snow of the year last Friday. To facilitate the creation of similar tools, including by members of the community, the City plans to release the data behind this map as open data by the end of 2016.

National news

  •  We’re not the only ones who did a recap of the Code for America Summit. The GovEx DataPoints podcast offered a full review as well, noting that the nation is moving beyond “cute visualizations” or a straightforward transparency agenda to more significant work with public data that influences policy and processesA. “People are now going deeper and thinking about how they can solve major problems with their data,” noted Sheila Dugan, a senior program officer at GovEx. StateScoop also covered Jazmyn Latimer’s work on Clear My Record, which she presented at the Summit.
  • There’s no slowing of interest in civic hacking as a mechanism for addressing seemingly intractable problems through technology. There were two major civic hackathons already this month – the Jersey City Hackathon for Sustainability and a hackathon around foster care in NYC.
  • Civic User Testing groups (or CUT groups) are taking off nationally as civic tech makers seek to ensure that new tech tools are usable for the wide range of people who depend on them. Some have been launched by community groups, as in the case of Code for Miami, while others are led by organizations such as Smart Chicago, which created the model. (GovTech)

New tools

  • The AllTransit database brings together data from multiple agencies and cities to make it easier to see how well particular areas are served by public transit – identifying “transit deserts” and seeing how transit maps to jobs, among other applications. Check out the Housing and Transportation Affordability Index, which provides a more robust picture of housing affordability that includes transportation costs and could be useful for activists and city planners. (GovTech)

On the horizon

  • Autonomous vehicles. And with them, many questions about how cities will respond to them and the 2 petabytes of data they are expected to generate each year and whether regulations will remain consistent across jurisdictions. Two Chicago aldermen have introduced legislation to block fully autonomous vehicles from using roadways within the city limits. Automakers are hoping for the federal government to set regulations so that the same autonomous vehicles could be used across the United States, limiting the ability of individual cities and states to create separate regulations that could influence manufacturing and technology development. The current Department of Transportation leadership supports mandating vehicle-to-vehicle or “V2V” communications to help prevent collisions. Meanwhile, Google’s self-driving car project has spun out into its own company, Waymo, which continues to use data to make the case that self-driving cars could be safer than those governed by humans. With the launch of the new company and site, the detailed monthly reports have disappeared; it remains to be seen whether any sort of mandate around transparency (e.g. releases of crash data) will be part of future regulations.

Upcoming events

Official City events:

  • Thursday, December 15, 5:30-8:30 pm @ Substantial in Capitol Hill: “Let It Snow: Community Design Workshop.” (Full)

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Wednesday, December 14, 6:00-9:00 pm @ Socrata: “Designing Open Seattle’s Role in Civic Tech Post-Election.” Free. (RSVP)
  • Wednesday, January 25, 10:00-11:30 am @ Impact Hub Seattle: “Community Cross-Pollinators: Technology + Social Impact.” Free. (RSVP)

If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at civic.tech@seattle.gov.

Let It Snow! New Open Datasets

We are pleased to announce the publication of 22 open datasets (21 of them new) related to the City’s storm response, just in time for tonight’s community design workshop. You can find all of them by going to data.seattle.gov and searching “storm response.” Here’s a comprehensive list of all the relevant datasets, along with direct links, prepared by our Department of Transportation (SDOT)’s Open Data Champion.

Winter Weather Response

  1. Traffic Cameras
    Displays the location of traffic cameras maintained by SDOT and WSDOT along with live images from those camera’s locations.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Traffic-Cameras/vhnv-4n94
    REST endpoint:  https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/0
  2. Road Temperature Stations
    Displays the location and data being collected from road temperature stations in the City of Seattle. This data shows the road temperature and the air temperature at the location of the sensor and maintains records of temperature data collected up to 2 hours beforehand.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Road-Temperature-Stations/wd5q-q35v
    REST endpoint:  https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/1
  3. Storm Event Closed Streets
    Displays the location of streets that have been closed due to a winter storm event.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Storm-Event-Closed-Streets/hfn3-xkyg
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/2
  4. SDOT Storm Response Vehicle Travel Directions
    Displays the direction of storm response trucks traveling in the city based on the most recent 10 minutes of data collection from the vehicles.
    data.seattle.gov: https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Storm-Response-Vehicle-Travel-Directions/ixan-y3x4
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/4
  5. SDOT Storm Response Last Hour
    During a winter storm, SDOT sends out a fleet of vehicles equipped with GPS tracking systems. Some vehicles have a plow blade; others have de-icing or spreader equipment. This dataset shows the recent path of vehicles that have been dispatched to respond to the winter weather event within the last hour.
    data.seattle.gov: https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Storm-Response-Last-Hour/3hff-bi5z
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/5
  6. SDOT Storm Response Last 3 Hours
    During a winter storm, SDOT sends out a fleet of vehicles equipped with GPS tracking systems. Some vehicles have a plow blade; others have de-icing or spreader equipment. This dataset shows the recent path of vehicles that have been dispatched to respond to the winter weather event within the last 3 hours.
    data.seattle.gov: https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Storm-Response-Last-3-Hours/tm4s-nafj
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/6
  7. SDOT Storm Response Last 12 Hours
    During a winter storm, SDOT sends out a fleet of vehicles equipped with GPS tracking systems. Some vehicles have a plow blade; others have de-icing or spreader equipment. This dataset shows the recent path of vehicles that have been dispatched to respond to the winter weather event within the last 12 hours.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Storm-Response-Last-12-Hours/v4r6-dv2s
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/7
  8. SDOT Raw Storm Response Data
    During a winter storm, SDOT sends out a fleet of vehicles equipped with GPS tracking systems. Some vehicles have a plow blade; others have de-icing or spreader equipment. This dataset shows the path of vehicles that have been dispatched to respond to a winter weather event.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Raw-Storm-Response-Data/5udx-nks4
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/8
  9. SDOT Archived Storm Response Data
    During a winter storm, SDOT sends out a fleet of vehicles equipped with GPS tracking systems. Some vehicles have a plow blade; others have de-icing or spreader equipment. This dataset shows the archived path of vehicles that have been dispatched to respond to previous winter weather events.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Archived-Storm-Response-Data/gs2u-kk8b
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/9
  10. Storm Snow and Ice Routes
    Seattle City streets designated by Level of Service as defined in the SDOT Snow and Ice Response Plan. The data displays planned response routes based on Level of Service: Gold – All travel lanes bare and wet; Emerald – One travel lane in each direction is bare and wet
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Snow-and-Ice-Routes/84nk-pkrw
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/10
  11. Street Use Permits

  12. SDOT Closed Streets
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to closures of the street.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Closed-Streets/jqrj-93ep
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/12
  13. SDOT Blocked Streets
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to blockages of the street.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Blocked-Streets/8as2-jarx
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/13
  14. SDOT Closed Lanes
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a closure of the travel lane on a given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Closed-Lanes/ua7h-fmde
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/14
  15. SDOT Blocked Lanes
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to blockages of the travel lane on a given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Blocked-Lanes/ppj4-g3hb
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/15
  16. SDOT Closed Intersections
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a closure of the intersections associated with the given street segment
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Closed-Intersections/6ck6-agtm
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/16
  17. SDOT Blocked Intersections
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a blockage of the intersections associated with a given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Blocked-Intersections/syrz-txdt
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/17
  18. SDOT Closed Parking Lanes
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a closure of the parking lane associated with the given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Closed-Parking-Lanes/adxw-hn4v
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/18
  19. SDOT Blocked Parking Lanes
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a blockage of the parking lane associated with the given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov: https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Blocked-Parking-Lanes/8b4j-qdj5
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/19
  20. SDOT Closed Sidewalks
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to closures of the street.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Closed-Sidewalks/9nx7-889m
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/20
  21. SDOT Blocked Sidewalks
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a blockage of the sidewalks associated with the given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov: https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Blocked-Sidewalks/5ias-ynza
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/21
  22. SDOT Closed Bike Lanes
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a closure of the bike lane on the given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov: https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Closed-Bike-Lanes/yn2a-j5d3
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/22
  23. SDOT Blocked Bike Lanes
    Displays all permits that have led or will lead to a closure of the bike lane on the given street segment.
    data.seattle.gov:  https://data.seattle.gov/dataset/SDOT-Blocked-Bike-Lanes/v9xu-gsz3
    REST endpoint: https://gisrevprxy.seattle.gov/arcgis/rest/services/SDOT_EXT/StormResponse_DSG/MapServer/23