Gov 2.0 Weekly Chatterbox

A few posts that have caught my eye recently…from Facebook, crowdsourcing, iPad apps and geodata, to Manor, TX.

Is Facebook Suitable for Government Transactions?

Last week, an airline in the United States became the first company to allow customers to book directly through its Facebook page. Will citizens soon be able to transact directly with government on social media? In interviews with FutureGov, officials in Indonesia, Australia and Singapore say that despite data security concerns, some government transactions on Facebook or Twitter will very soon be possible.

The post goes on to give a couple of international examples, and is generally an international focus.  However, their point is valid.  Google’s payment gateway hasn’t really caught on, but it’s also not an ecosystem that people spend hours a day in (in a browser tab open in the background, of course :).

New York State Senate Launches Nation’s First iPad App For Legislation


The New York State Senate today announced availability of “NYSenate for iPad,” the first application in the nation developed by a legislative body for the Apple iPad.  The application can be downloaded for free today from the Apple iTunes App Store.

Like its predecessor, NYSenate Mobile for iPhones and Android phones, NYSenate for iPad brings New Yorkers closer to their elected officials, making comprehensive access to Senate information and content from all New York State Senators available any time, anywhere– citizens, staff, and journalists can use the app to search for bill information, contact their Senator, review event calendars, read Senator’s blogs, watch archived video of Senate Session, Committee Meetings and Public Hearings, and even submit Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests.

The Mobile app has been downloaded by more than 1,000 New Yorkers since the June launch.

Announcing Polymaps

Polymaps is a free JavaScript library for making dynamic, interactive maps in modern web browsers.  Huge potential for visualizing all those extremely large government datasets.

We’ve been working with Stamen to provide visual analysis of the huge datasets that we’re working with, and how people can communicate this data in sophisticated ways. A first step toward that goal is the release of a free and open-source set of tools and map engines allowing people to perform relatively sophisticated operations on their data in the browser.

The project has been online for a while at, and you can download the source code there; what’s new is the addition of a series of example maps so you can demonstrate what’s going on, and human-readable documentation so you can use them for your own projects.

Some of the examples are straightforward, letting you do things like group points into clusters and drop scaled gradients on to map locations. Others are more robust, letting you do things like change which direction is north by rotating the map and visualize the quality of street surfaces in San Francisco.

Tracking the tech that will make government better

Crowdsourcing, fraud detection, and open data tools were touted at a recent Senate hearing.

Alex Howard writes about potential the of crowdsourcing for government and how open data analysis is improving fraud detection.

For the first time, we can bridge the gap between online and the real world,” testified Crane. A challenge “thought impossible by the intelligence community using traditional techniques” was solved in 8 hours and 52 minutes, said Crane. “We leveraged the problem-solving capabilities of the participants,” said Crane, and “built the infrastructure that allowed others to solve the problem for us.”

The opposite of open government

When it comes to environmental data, and data on contaminated groundwater, open government is not about citizen convenience or improved government efficiency. It is about giving people the information they need so that they can make informed decisions about their own lives and the lives of their families and children.

Definitely worth reading.  I know many people within government are wary of “open data” / “open government” but this hits the nail on the head.  Three “lessons learned” regarding making government more transparent and open through the lens of a Delaware case study.

Meet Colorado’s Chief Data Officer — VIDEO

Colorado is working on a statewide strategy for collecting and sharing data.  As part of that strategy, ex-CIO Mike Locatis created a new position (before he left for CA) — Chief Data Officer.  Micheline Casey is leading a strategy to connect data held by Colorado, the federal government, and cities and counties.

They are developing protocols and guidelines for information and sharing and have published a 2010 State of Colorado Data Strategy.

Inside Manor Labs — VIDEO

“Tiny Manor, Texas, proves that digital innovation isnt just for big cities.”

This is a great, short piece about Manor, Texas and its innovation platform ManorLabs.

Manor, Texas, Crowdsources Ideas for Running the Town

Corresponding GovTech mag piece.

Manor Labs, which launched in late October, is a Web portal where citizens can submit ideas to improve their city. From conception to (possibly) reality, every decision city officials make about a submitted idea is put in plain sight. At the same time, users can participate in and affect an idea’s development. For a president who is trying to deliver on promises of government transparency, it’s easy to see why the White House is giving Manor Labs a closer look.