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Many cities and public agencies are opening up their data to promote accountability, empower citizens, and deliver better services. But just releasing data is not enough to achieve these desired outcomes. Most open government initiatives are supply-side efforts that release data that is too obscure, too complex, or too out of date to be valuable to citizens. This session explores three open data cases where we have seen success (public transit), failure (federal spending), and promise (open311). We show how co-production between policymakers, techies, and civic innovators is crucial to translating data into useful information for a targeted audience of local, yet diverse, users. In these communities of transparency, leadership, collaboration, local knowledge, feedback loops, and iterative design work together to forge the pathways for more meaningful transparency and participation in our communities.
by Jeremiah Akin and Jim March
This talk will expose the slight of hand tricks used by government agencies to make them appear more transparent than they are. "Transparency" is a common buzz word that suggests that government operates in a manner that is clear, visible, and understandable. Open Data Centers are supposed to increase accountability and transparency in government computer-based operations. However, can you use the data they provide to spot waste or corruption in government? Vote counting used to be a process that people could watch, but now you only see a false replica of the open counting process. Meanwhile the votes are actually counted where they can not be observed. The public needs to be able to differentiate between transparency and transparency theater, just as it needs to learn to differentiate between security and security theatre. Several examples of how government agencies produce this theatre will demonstrate how what is supposed to be transparent is intentionally hidden.
9th–13th March 2012