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New York City Bus Tracking: Procuring for an Open Architecture

Real-time bus tracking is one of civic technology’s easier calls. No one likes guessing when next bus will come: “Do I need to run for it?”, “Do I have time to duck into that corner store and get a newspaper?”, etc. So people immediately grasp the benefit of being able to ask their smartphone where [...]

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Striking a Chord at the National Association of Government Webmasters conference.

I feel like I just came back from a journey to the secret nerve center of local government IT: the 2011 national conference of NAGW, the National Association of Government Webmasters, held in Cincinnati, Ohio last week. There’s some wonderful stuff happening there — I’ll give you an example in a moment. I attended the conference together [...]

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Data Visualization Platform, Weave, Now Open Source

With more and more civic data becoming available and accessible, the challenge grows for policy makers and citizens to leverage that data for better decision-making. It is often difficult to understand context and perform analysis. “Weave”, however, helps. A web-based data visualization tool, Weave enables users to explore, analyze, visualize and disseminate data online from [...]

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Peeking In On The IT Dashboard Community, Six Weeks After Release.

What happens after open sourcing? Do people from elsewhere actually show up, to ask questions, find bugs, and help out? Six weeks ago, the Federal IT Dashboard was open-sourced. We assisted in that release (see our post) because we strongly believe that open collaboration is the natural path for government software, and because the IT [...]

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U.S. DOD releases “Open Technology Development Guide”.

The U.S. Department of Defense has just released a pretty amazing document: “Open Technology Development: Lessons Learned and Best Practices”. (Warning: if you don’t like reading rave reviews, stop now.) In the words of RedHat’s Gunnar Hellekson: It’s a handbook for using and making open source in the DOD and the US Government, sponsored by [...]

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The Federal IT Dashboard is Open Sourced!

As promised, the code for the federal IT Dashboard has now been released to the public as open source software. Any government can use it — for that matter, any contractor can pick up the code and offer deployment or other services based on it, which is a key ingredient for making it usable in practice by [...]

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Be Open from Day One, not Day N.

This might be the most important blog post I write all year (and it’s January now), so I’ll get straight to the point: If you’re running a government software project and you plan to make it open source eventually, then just make it open source from the beginning. Waiting will only create more work. It’s [...]

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San Francisco’s Enterprise Addressing System Is Now Open Source!

We’re pleased to announce that San Francisco’s Enterprise Addressing System has now been open sourced! EAS is a web-based system for managing the city’s master database of physical addresses, tied to Assessor’s parcels and the City’s street centerline network. We posted a short screencast of EAS in action a couple of months ago, and since [...]

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Federal Register and CityAdmin: Two Approaches to Civic Publication.

We’ve been looking at government publications systems lately, partly at the instigation of Beth Noveck, who leads the U.S. government’s Open Government Initiative [1]. Two of the most interesting are the Federal Register 2.0 and New York Law School’s CityAdmin system — they come at the problem from opposite directions, and comparing them is instructive. Federal Register [...]

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What’s the Return on Investment for Open?

We’ve been talking to government IT departments at many levels about how to use open technologies, and how to release their in-house code for other jurisdictions to use. In that process, we’ve made a couple of profound discoveries: Everyone would love to open up their code, as long as it doesn’t cost anything to do [...]

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