Demonstrate your commitment to making your city more open. Take the open government pledge. Learn more.
Open government is a global movement to bring government into the digital age by making public data open by default and creating new opportunities for civic engagement through the use of web technologies.
Citizen feedback is important for creating sustainable, representative solutions. Providing feedback, however, often requires citizens to attend in-person meetings.
Leverage technology to lower barriers for constituent in your department or city.
New York’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications used a wiki to collaborate with the public on its policy for open data tech standards and guidelines.
The city of Philadelphia is using Textizen to gather citizen feedback. City planners generated questions and posted them on posters in public spaces; the Textizen platform allows the officials to collect responses submitted via text message.
New York’s Department of Technology used Shareabouts, a simple mapping tool for gathering input online, to aggregate suggestions for locations of bike share stations. Utilizing this open source tool, constituent recommendations can be collected and referenced during decision making to come to a decision in a more democratic way.
Hack events are competitions or gatherings where governments, allied organizations, technologists come together to hack away at, or help resolve, a civic issue. These events have become popular ways for cities to connect with passionate innovators to pump fresh ideas into government.
Host a hack event to find creative solutions for your department's or city's challenges.
Hackathons are events that bring people together across all disciplines, to develop solutions to civic challenges. Hacks can range from policy hacks to those that focus on developing technical apps. Get started planning your hackathon with our tips on how to host a hackathon, or learn from previously held events in Joplin, Tampa, Austin.
When drafting policy or creating standards for recently passed legislation, host an event where community members and government officials can come together to draft policy. New York City hosted the NYC Open Data Policy Hack Day to get feedback when creating technical standards for its open data law.
Governments collect data on taxes, health services, education, and much more. Opening this data to public use by publishing it online in a standardized format brings benefits to public servants and constituents alike.
To open data, take these four basic steps:
To take these four steps, check out the Open Knowledge Foundation's comprehensive guide to the process. It’s in plain English so that anyone (techie or not) can understand. Click here!
If you’re the head of a department, or can get your department leader onboard, make an open data portal for your department (or, even better, your city!). An open data portal brings all the datasets for a department (or city) together in one centralized place that is accessible to all. This makes it easy for constituents, developers, and other departments to search for the information they need. Data portals are already in use across the United States by 34 states and 15 cities from large (New York: nycopendata.socrata.com) to small (Arvada, Colo.: arvada.org/opendata).
When you’re ready to create your open data portal, follow our six tips for creating an open data portal.
Open government policies lay the framework for building a culture of innovation and openness from the ground up.
Start drafting an open government policy for your city today.
Use these templates and guides to get started drafting open policies for your city. The open government directive is a good place to begin. If you’re city is looking to be more ambitious, Open Impact has provided editable, working documents for an open government resolution and bill. We are excited to collaborate with governments and the public on these model pieces of legislation, so feel free to give feedback.
The open data policy requires departments to publish their data in machine-readable formats and make it available to the public-at-large through a single web portal. It also requires the city to develop open data technical standards, a compliance plan detailing qualifying data, and a timeline to make the data publicly available. This policy also outlines open standards regulations for data.
The Public Records Act requires city agencies to publish their records publicly online through a single web portal maintained by the city.
The open source procurement policy requires agencies to consider open source software when acquiring software. It also requires them to catalogue and share software source code that facilitates the code’s reuse and meets set definitions.
City governments spend billions of dollars each year procuring products and services but systems for attracting vendors and accepting proposals can be confusing, cumbersome, and slow. This can deter new vendors and companies from competing for government business, which causes the city and its citizens to lose out.
Take these six steps to leverage technology to make your procurement process more accessible, transparent, and streamlined.
The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics — initially conceived in Boston and now being replicated in cities across the country — is an organizational model that helps cities innovate by aggregating risk, building partnerships, and encouraging experimentation in government. Projects have ranged from crowdsourcing development of sensor-driven apps to government-to-government resource sharing. This process for civic innovation is one that can adapted by any city. By creating an Office of New Urban Mechanics in your city you can institutionalize a commitment to innovation. Learn more about starting an office of New Urban Mechanics program in your city.