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Working on a New Vision of Democracy at CivicMakers

Working on a New Vision of Democracy at CivicMakers
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In a world of civic cynicism and disconnection, a surprising group of people came together to discuss a new vision for democracy. The first Inaugural CivicMakers Salon was held this week at the Runway Incubator in San Francisco. The challenge posed to event attendees was to answer this question: What should real democracy look like and how can technology help us get there? A new conversation about the opportunity to use technology to bridge the gap between government and citizens is being encouraged by events like this. To kick it off we heard from one of the event organizers, Lawrence Grodeska, Director of Nonprofit Community at Change.org, "I'm so inspired by the 125 people who came together to share their vision for how technology can help improve democracy. It's clear that people want to talk about this, and I hope CivicMakers can help bring this conversation back to every tavern,...
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Looking for the Next Great Civic Startup: The Accela Civic App Challenge

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At Accela, we’re committed to finding ways to leverage the talents and ideas of civic entrepreneurs and open data hackers to benefit the governments we serve. We believe that fostering the creation of new civic startups has enormous potential to benefit public sector agencies, and we’re committed to finding ways to do this. That’s why we were thrilled several weeks ago to launch the Accela Civic App Challenge . The Problem The biggest challenge facing governments in adopting new civic technologies is the absence of an easy way to incorporate new solutions into their existing IT infrastructure. Creating a framework in which civic hackers and entrepreneurs can build smart new apps that can easily be adopted by governments has proved daunting and has caused some in the civic technology community to worry about the movement’s future viability. At Accela, we’re working to address this challenge through the Civic Platform and...
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Right Way to Manage Right of Ways

Right Way to Manage Right of Ways
Accela acquired Envista today, and we’re thrilled to have their employees and customers join the Accela family. Envista’s cloud-based solutions provide visibility and real-time insight into street projects and activities of all kinds that occur within the public right of way. This enables proactive management of utility projects, public works, permitting, incidents, traffic and events to optimize street performance, reduce costs and minimize environmental impact. And, citizens have real-time visibility to the projects that have the potential to impact their communities and lives. We will rebrand the Envista solution as Accela Right of Way Management and continue to make this Software as a Service solution available on an annual subscription basis. Customers such as the City and County of San Francisco and City of Baltimore use the solution to effectively coordinate with utility providers whose infrastructure lies in the right of way such as PG&E and Veolia Energy—and to effectively...
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Engaging in Legislative Management

Engaging in Legislative Management
Accela announced today that we have acquired IQM2, a leading provider of cloud-based solutions to manage public meetings, minutes and video content, and board appointments and governance. We view this as an outstanding opportunity to help our agency customers streamline and accelerate the entire experience of preparing, deciding and sharing the results and content of public meetings online. It’s also a way to offer transparency to encourage citizens to engage and have a voice in government decisions. The IQM2 solution, which will be branded Accela Legislative Management , is purposely designed for the agency staff that manages the public sector meeting process, including pre- and post-meeting efforts to originate, approve, track, audit, search, and disseminate content and results. Additionally, the solution facilitates electronic voting for agenda resolutions and tracks board seat requirements, terms, applications and applicant interviews for board seat vacancies. Hernando County, Florida , uses it to build a...
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Open Data: From Coast to Coast

Open Data: From Coast to Coast
The last few weeks have been big for open data and civic innovation. Awareness of the power of open data, the new ideas it can help foment and the new apps and services it can support are spreading from coast to coast. On May 15, I had the pleasure to take part in the Open Data NJ Summit at Montclair State University. The event brought together experts on open data from the Sunlight Foundation, the U.S. Open Data Institute and others to present to local government officials and the journalism community on the power and promise of open data. The event featured presentations from, among others, Jersey City and the City of Newark—both of which are using CKAN as the basis for their open data releases. CKAN is also used as the foundation for CivicData.com , which is free to use for Accela customers and other governments looking to release...
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CivicData.com: Changing the Game on Open Data

CivicData.com is Accela’s open data portal. The site represents a new approach, one that emphasizes the core mission at Accela—to build bridges designed to connect citizens and government agencies—and we believe that it will change the game on how governments publish open data. A New Direction for Open Data As the open data movement matures, an increasing number of federal, state and local governments are formalizing their commitment to releasing data for external users by adopting open data policies and implementing open data portals . As open data portals become more common, and as more and more data is released through these sites, two open data portals from across the vast expanse of the U.S. stand out for their embrace of a different approach—an approach that signals a new direction that the open data movement will take in the next few years. OpenDataPhilly.org is the official open data portal for...
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