by Alec Ross
It has become an article of faith that the United States and Europe are declining powers, that power is transferring from West to East, and from North to South. In truth, the far more powerful and important dynamic is the impact that technology and social media are playing devolving power from governments and large institutions to individuals and small institutions. This talk comes from the perspective of the apex of traditional power structure, as a witness to the truth of the wildly changing nature of power around the world.
by Giovanni Rodriguez and Jose Rico
With the commoditizaion of digital technologies for engagement, organizations are beginning to see the opportunity to go one step further by bridging the gap between the virtual and the physical worlds. Hear how a group inside the White House has launched a digitally-powered program to enable live engagement with Latin-America citizens throughout the US. A key component of the program is a multi-city event series where the White House will send officials to meet, engage, and work with local leaders on a wide range of projects. Featuring key White House staff leading this initiative, “THE WHITE HOUSE – ON THE ROAD” explores what could be the next frontier for interactive – “an intelligent return to the physical world.”
by Luke Hohmann
It’s no secret. Local, state and federal governments face budget shortfalls, spending cuts and reduced service—in a political climate that favors gridlock. Serious games have emerged as a viable approach to budgeting that is both participatory and scalable. In this session, we’ll discuss why serious games are a particularly good tool for budgeting and their advantages over alternatives such as deliberative democracy, participatory budgeting, or majority voting through polls. Participants will learn to conduct in-person and online games built specifically for resolving multi-scalar budget problems. These models are based on Budget Games, which we designed and played in San Jose, CA, on Jan. 29, 2011 in which more than 100 community leaders collaboratively re-crafted the city’s proposed budget. Because the game revealed real consensus, San Jose officials were able to act on the game’s results with more confidence than traditional polling.
by Rohan Silva
What happens when you throw open the doors of government and let the public decide what happens? Join Rohan Silva, senior policy adviser to the British Prime Minister David Cameron, as he shares his stories about the British Government's adventures in crowdsourcing - and the UK's radical agenda to harness the best ideas and innovations to build a better government. Silva will also be talking about the future of open data, open government and technology policy in the UK - and the entrepreneurial opportunities being opened up in the UK and beyond.
by Jo Guldi
From 1790 to 1830, the first government-sponsored information revolution hit Europe, an interkingdom highway system of thousands of miles of roads that connected London with her capital cities. How deep a role should government play in regulating traffic, many wondered? The first round of answers bear a striking resemblance to conversations today about the nature of the internet. Advocates of centralized regulation advocated limits to tolls -- a geographical version of net neutrality. Critics argued that eminent domain meant tearing down the houses of the poor. The new roads sped traffic to poor areas, promoting commerce and industrialization, for a time. Critics claimed that soon the earth's peoples would speak a single language. But soon mounting evidence showed that the road's users were speaking to each other less than they ever had before. What had gone wrong?
Citizens interact with their governments (local or national) every day, and they increasingly do this via websites, phone apps, or other types of technology. Many of these interfaces are uninformed by the design and experience practices that have become a standard part of commercial product and service development. In fact, few government agencies have the budget in these times to hire a staff of web and experience practitioners. Over the last several years, a vibrant culture of hackathons has grown up, with developers spending weekends building apps based on government data. Designers and researchers, however, haven't yet begun to participate in numbers.
This talk will discuss the challenges of public/citizen experiences and the great potential to improve Americans' lives through informal design and prototyping collaborations. We'll explain how designers and developers can build communities of public service around our talents and industries. We'll inspire the audience to use their powers for good and contribute to the growing movement known as Government 2.0
Open government and transparency activists asked for it: data available through open APIs and digital formats. Now that we have some of it, the dark spots on the sun are beginning to appear. The data are sometimes poor cousins to the records actually used to administer government or do its business, created as side systems or even fake records for public consumption and suffering from neglect at the hands of their overtaxed makers. Balancing privacy with widespread data releases sometimes leave the records too general for use in holding government accountable, and leave crucial data locked in technological and physical file cabinets. Records stored on paper and its electronic siblings are the forgotten members of the family. The panel, representing three viewpoints on transparency and its role in democracy, will highlight successes and failures in the recent transparency and open government movements and suggest solutions for data users and providers.
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.
by Celia Cole, Erine Gray and Corrie MacLaggan
In 2005, the State of Texas signed a contract worth close to $900 million dollars with an alliance of private firms to manage the eligibility process for applying for Food Stamps, TANF, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs. The project was a failure - so much so that Texas cancelled the contract just over a year later. Applications were lost. People went hungry. Kids lost health insurance. Technology projects failed.In 2009, Indiana cancelled a $1.3 billion dollar social service privatization contract - citing poor service delivery.Big changes were necessary to modernize the delivery of these important services in Texas and Indiana, no doubt. In the end, some really good things were done by both States and the private firms they hired. But there was a lot of pain in between that could have been avoided. People unnecessarily suffered. Three people in the know will discuss what went down so that we can all learn from the mistakes and help prevent them in the future.
What comes after Gov 2.0? In this fast-paced and highly immersive session, best-selling author William Eggers takes you on a worldwide tour of the future of public services. You’ll hear how some technology-enabled, disruptive innovations are slashing the cost of public services dramatically, yet delivering the same if not better quality. You’ll learn about the citizen markets springing up to serve community needs that previously were either handled by governments or were not addressed at all. And you’ll get an inside look at some of the new public services delivery models pioneered by entrepreneurs and social enterprises who are redefining the purview of government.
Want to make some money? Federal agencies have recently been given the authority by Congress to sponsor competitions for individuals, groups, and companies to develop new ideas and technology innovations for a chance to win potentially lucrative prizes. These competitions can range from new mobile outreach technologies to web-based data analytics tools to even vehicle-to-vehicle communications; the government is looking for breakthrough technologies from the minds of the most innovative and forward thinking Americans, many of whom are at SXSW. This session will highlight some of the coolest prizes for technology development that the government has been involved in to date, including the DOT’s Connected Vehicle Challenge, the VA’s Open Source and blue button projects, and NASA’s centennial challenges. Additionally you will learn about some prizes government did NOT play a role in to explore what role the government should be playing in these activities moving forward.
Will we someday look to the government technologist as a Web superstar? An innovation idol? A technology trailblazer?
In this session we will explore how government technologists deal with the demands of meeting customer needs in a world where private industry sets the pace. Can government ever be as cool as their corporate counterparts? Are the challenges of doing more with less, attracting emerging talent and maneuvering through excessive politics and bureaucracy too much to overcome?
New and groundbreaking partnerships between government and private sector, non-profits and community groups may provide the answers to these questions. Fellowship programs like Code for America, community crowd sourcing like Austin’s OpenAustin and business partnerships may just give the government geek a shot at being one of the cool kids.
The bulk of social media and Web 2.0 use in Congress and state legislatures has until now largely been composed of personal tweets and posts by legislators and staff, pushing communications out without engaging in true conversations with constituents. Innovation in this area has lagged the private sector.One Texas Senate committee is changing that. Charged by Chairman John Carona to “push the envelope so hard it’s no longer stationery,” the Business and Commerce Committee is moving out with social media. They began by examining the legislative process and identifying each point where lobbyists and advocates have special access to information or legislators, then looked for technologies that would level the playing field, open the process to the public, or help generate consensus. As a testbed, the committee is currently tackling a tough issue –payday lending – and they’ll tell you what they’re doing, what’s worked and where they think Gov2.0 is going.
9th–13th March 2012