Gov 2.0

I hope that the new year will bring more of this to Houston.

Welcome to a movement the tech crowd is calling “Gov 2.0” — where mobile technology and GPS apps are helping give citizens like Newmark more of a say in how their local tax money is spent. It’s public service for the digital age.

A host of larger U.S. cities from San Francisco to New York quietly have been releasing treasure troves of public data to Web and mobile application developers.

That may sound dull. But tech geeks transform banal local government spreadsheets about train schedules, complaint systems, potholes, street lamp repairs and city garbage into useful applications for mobile phones and the Web.

The aim is to let citizens report problems to their governments more easily and accurately; and to put public information, which otherwise may be buried in file cabinets and Excel files, at the fingertips of taxpayers.

Peter Brown specifically mentioned using this kind of technology during his Mayoral campaign. I hope that it’s an area where he was able to influence Mayor-Elect Parker while he was supporting her during the runoff. The thing about this is that the main expense the city would incur is in making its own data publicly available in a usable format like XML. Once the data is out there, app developers will jump on it and take it from there. Some thought needs to be given to how to manage users’ expectations – just because you submit a photo of a pothole doesn’t mean it’ll get fixed immediately, for instance – but as long as people understand what this sort of thing is all about, I think it’ll be a big hit. Thanks to Martha, who has some other suggestions for how to leverage these innovations, for the link.

Related Posts:

This entry was posted in Technology, science, and math and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.