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Technology and Transparency in Government

 

The Government Finance Officers Association held its annual conference in San Francisco this past week. Edwin Lee, the mayor of San Francisco opened the conference speaking about transparency in government including sharing data with innovative businesses that develop mobile applications that can be utilized by everyone.

In San Francisco looks to tap into the open date economy, Alex Howard identifies San Francisco as one of the first cities to launch an open data platform. One app cited is the Rec & Park app, built by San Francisco-based startup Appallicious, which enables citizens to find trails, dog parks, playgrounds and other recreational resources on a mobile device. At the conference the Mayor talked about a mobile app to identify parking space availability. How great is that? When you are looking to find a parking place, no more driving around block after block.  In all honest, I can’t claim to be a big app user but the thought of utilizing government data to make our lives run more smoothly is very attractive to me.

California Lt. Governor, Gavin Newsom, (also a former Mayor of San Francisco) delivered the keynote address on Tuesday. Much of his speech revolved around his new book, Citizenville,  which explores the need for citizens to become more involved in their government and how technology can help facilitate this endeavor.

As you might suspect, Citizenville is a play on Farmville, the popular game in which players spend hours maintaining their virtual farms. Newsom’s Citizenville’s concept is to combine the fun of a game with the social good of solving problems. A way to engage from the bottom up instead of the top down bureaucracy.

Newsom believes in complete transparency for every agency with exceptions only to protect public safety or personal privacy. Opening up the data and making it available to ordinary people. Encouraging people and businesses to use that data in a useful innovative manner. Engaging people on their terms with new technologies and social media.

Innovation should drive change and provide solutions. Who wants to play?

 





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