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From the DMV to the Model T: Five Ways Government Processes Are Becoming More Efficient

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Standing in line at the DMV, applying for a business permit, trying to fix a pothole or trying to contact the right government agency—what do all of these situations have in common? In most cities, they are inefficient and frustrating. Though these processes and the people leading them are well-intentioned, the processes themselves are typically inefficient and stuck in a bygone era in which things had to be done in person and information was tracked on paper. Automation = Efficiency “Efficiency” sometimes has a negative connotation, such as in the “Work smarter not harder” comment in this Dilbert comic , because it often means that you are doing the job of several people and you just need to “make it work.” The definition of efficiency is the “accomplishment of a job with minimum expenditure of time and effort.” Employing systems that make your job easier and more efficient allow you...
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Discussing the Real Value of Open Data with State, City and County Leaders and the Sunlight Foundation

Discussing the Real Value of Open Data with State, City and County Leaders and the Sunlight Foundation
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On September 29th I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at the NASCIO annual conference on the value of open data. Entitled “Open Data: Is the Value Real?,” the panel also included: Dale Hartman, IT Service Delivery Manager, King County Elections Washington Carolyn Parnell, Chief Information Officer, State of Minnesota Barbara L. Cohn, Chief Data Officer, New York Office of Information Technology Services Emily Shaw, National Policy Manager, Sunlight Foundation During our talk, we had a chance to dive in deep on the real value of open data for governments. One of the most encouraging takeaways for me was that the vast majority of attendees at this year’s NASCIO annual conference understood what open data was, and were convinced that it would improve government efficiency and provide value to the people governments serve. I thought the panel—led by Alan Shark, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of...
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Transforming the Way Governments Engage with Their Citizens

Transforming the Way Governments Engage with Their Citizens
Today, Accela acquired Government Outreach, a leading provider of citizen relationship management software. This ushers in a new era for Accela and our customers as we further strengthen our Civic Platform with citizen-facing offerings to help governments of all sizes better connect and engage with their citizens. We are thrilled to welcome Government Outreach customers to the Accela family. Government Outreach will be rebranded as Accela Citizen Relationship Management, and we will offer the solution to existing and new Accela customers. At Accela, we believe that engagement makes all the difference. Citizens want engagement with their government to be simple and streamlined. They increasingly want to connect with their government like they do with other organizations—on their own time through digital and mobile, in addition to over the phone and in person. In order to transform the citizen experience in their communities, agencies need to embrace technology that bridges the...
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Guest Blog on PBS MediaShift: Open Data Beyond the Big City

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The below is an excerpt of my guest blog on PBS MediaShift. You can r ead the full post here . Big cities, like San Francisco, are more likely to have adopted open data than smaller cities. This is a problem, says Headd. Photo by Thomas Hawk via Flickr and used here with Creative Commons license . “The future is already here — it’s just not evenly distributed.” –William Gibson. The Economist, December 4, 2003 The last time I heard Tim O’Reilly speak was at the Accela Engage conference in San Diego earlier this year. In his remarks, Tim used the above quote from William Gibson — it struck me as a pretty accurate way to describe the current state of open data in this country. Open data is the future — of how we govern, of how public services are delivered, of how governments engage with those that they...
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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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Open Data Delivering on Its Promise to Bring Governments and Citizens Together

The open government movement is gaining critical momentum, and that shouldn’t be a surprise. Making the data the government collects publicly available has the power to transform everyday life by better informing our decisions, from what restaurant to eat at , to where to start your business, to what apartment to rent . Just last week we had great presence at events from Sacramento to Berkeley. There was an exciting group of experts lined up to speak at California FWD’s open data event—including Kris Trujillo , the lead architect of Accela’s free open data portal, CivicData.com . Kris talked about open data as the key to bridging the divide between government and citizens and the opportunity for developers and civic entrepreneurs to build businesses by creating useful apps for government. Earlier in the day, Kris was a panelist on an open data webinar organized by the Center for Digital Government...
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