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Making Ordinary Citizens Civic Heroes

Making Ordinary Citizens Civic Heroes
Allen Chen and I had the chance to present to the Concord City Council last week. Concord, which is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, is actively using Accela to manage a lot of their land, licensing and assets, and they also have agreed to partner with us to help test, validate and chart the future of Civic Hero , a mobile app for iPhone, Android and Windows phones that lets citizens easily report community issues such as potholes, graffiti or damaged public property to their local government. The City Council meeting was like many others: a Council comprised of many community elders and prominent citizens, community participants insistent on having their voices and issues heard, and a contingent of younger folks learning about civics and the workings of their government. The key recurring theme we heard from citizens and from the City Council was the need to spur...
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Open Data Is Here: How Will You Bring Your Agency’s Data to Life?

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The office has been buzzing with excitement this week with the launch of CivicData.com . We’ve been hard at work to bring this to fruition. More importantly, everyone at Accela is excited about what this means for our customers. In recent months, the City of El Paso created a Garbage App with CityGovApp that increases driver productivity while enhancing citizen engagement—all from a smartphone. Civic hackers used Salt Lake City’s data to create a “Taco Cart” app, which helps citizens (and presumably inspectors) locate these mobile food establishments. We’re amazed by the sheer volume of civic-minded developers who are looking to build and deploy apps for government. Oftentimes, they don’t understand what kind of data you have. Just opening up your data can result in unexpected new ways to engage with citizens and businesses. Several agencies have already published datasets on CivicData.com. What will your data look like? In case...
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Democratize Your Data with CivicData.com

By now, I hope you’ve heard about the open data movement , and have seen how forward-thinking agencies are driving innovation by leveraging open data in hackathons and events like CityCamp Palo Alto . There are some shining examples of how open data is being used to add value and deliver services to communities. This opportunity is huge and has undeniable potential to impact governing, civic engagement and government business. But the open data movement is in its infancy, and we have a long way to go before the real value of open data begins to be realized. Honest reflection tells us that today, a small fraction of agencies are actively providing open data, it’s complex and costly for them, and there are very few implemented standards—datasets are described in very different ways. From a developer standpoint, these datasets are deployed uniquely for each jurisdiction. That makes it very difficult...
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Looking Back at Accela Engage 2013: Civic Engagement Trends and the Value of Open Data

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I’ve had a chance to reflect on Accela Engage 2013 and wanted to share a few key takeaways. It was my first year attending the conference, and I was delighted by the energy and level of active participation throughout the week. Over 450 customers representing more than 100 agencies around the world made it a priority to attend to learn about our strategy and plans, to network and to learn. First, a quick synopsis for those of you who were not able to attend this year. Our CEO, Maury Blackman, opened his keynote by showcasing the power of engagement between government agencies, citizens and businesses. Engagement was a common theme throughout the week, and is the reason we renamed our user conference Accela Engage this year. Accela CEO Maury Blackman delivers the keynote address at Accela Engage: 2013 User Conference. During his keynote, Maury discussed four key trends we’ve talked about...
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The Accela Open Data Platform: Coming Soon to An Agency Near You

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During the opening keynote at the Accela Engage conference two weeks ago, I gave a sneak peek look at the upcoming Accela Open Data Platform. It was gratifying to see how that quick peek turned into the talk of the conference. During the weeklong conference, I had numerous agencies approach me asking when they can get their hands on our new Open Data Platform. Each person who approached me had the same thing to say: “What you have created is exactly what my agency needs and solves our current open data problems perfectly.” And just yesterday, our very own Maury Blackman discussed open data on NBC's Press:Here with Scott McGrew in a segment titled “ Bringing Government Data Online .” So, what exactly is it that Accela is up to and what is our strategy when it comes to Open Data? I answered these questions during a session on Open...
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Accela Engage 2013 – DON’T PANIC!

There's less than one week left until Accela Engage 2013 kicks off in San Diego, but don’t panic. Although the world isn’t coming to an end like in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , time is running out to carefully plan your schedule to ensure you make the most of your time during the conference. If you haven't nailed down your must-attend sessions and events, here's a quick guide to a few things that may just help round out your experience next week: Haven’t registered yet? Not being able to attend Accela Engage would obviously have a serious impact on your entire experience. You can register until 11:59 pm on Wednesday, August 7. All hands-on training classes must be selected by then as well. Speaking of Hands-on Training Sessions: These training classes require preregistration to attend and space is limited to 35 seats per class, so reserve your spot...
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