by Matt Rosenberg November 11th, 2014
Nowadays, Andrew Hoppin is the CEO of NuCivic, an open-source cloud-based Software as a Service provider helping governments and nonprofits host and manage open data, apps arrays, and platforms for hackathons. But along the way, he learned a few things in the New York State Senate.
When Hoppin became the body’s Chief Information Officer in 2009, “we had a political mandate” for transparency and change that made a big difference, he said last week at a panel discussion in New York City, “Open Government: State of The Union.” It was sponsored by the Paley Center for Media and the John S. & James L. Knight Foundation — and kicked off a half-day Paley-Knight symposium, “The Next Big Thing in Open Government.”
by Matt Rosenberg November 5th, 2014
This open data tool from The World Bank – via the free service Google Public Data Explorer – shows the association between life expectancies and fertility rates in dozens of nations from 1960 through 2012. Generally, as fertility rates – or average number of births per woman – have declined, average life expectancies have increased. Although the data represent only an association, not causation – and other factors clearly have bearing on longevity – the relationship is nonetheless strong over the period measured. The data are from the World Bank’s World Development Indicators, a widely-utilized resource that was updated last month. World Bank began to park dozens of WDIs in Google Public Data Explorer in 2010.
TO USE: Move the slider from right to left and back to see dramatic changes in fertility rates and life expectancies, nation by nation, over the 52 years. Nations are color-coded by continent for added insight. Hover over any charted circle for more data on a nation. Click on “Explore Data” at lower right to review in Public Data Explorer dozens of WDIs across major categories such as economy, education, environment and health, and to create your own data visualizations. Tip: once you’ve got a table, chart or other viz ready, the link icon (upper right) yields embeddable code for online publishing. Pixel width and height can be manually tweaked. (Note: Make sure you change the http:// portion of the embed code to https:// so the viz will preview and display in the Firefox and Chrome browsers.)
This article originally created by Matt Rosenberg was first published at The Open Standard on 11/5/14 under a Creative Commons license allowing full free re-use for non-commercial purposes.
by Matt Rosenberg October 28th, 2014
When Alberto Nardelli started the Twitter feed Tweetminister in 2008, there were a small handful of British Members of Parliament tweeting. As that number began to grow, leading into the 2010 U.K. general elections, Nardelli introduced Twitter Q&As and mapped and analyzed political trends using tweets as source data.
Now there are more than 400 MPs using Twitter, and Tweetminister – which lets users track down their MP’s tweets – has more than 63,000 followers. Before stepping away, Nardelli turned the pursuit into a media consulting company with a team of four others. In September he was hired as editor of The Guardian’s Data Blog.
by Matt Rosenberg October 27th, 2014
LONDON (10/27/14) – In May of this year a network of 25 different civic technology organizations met in Santiago, Chile to figure out how to better succeed at giving their work away for free. The problem is that too many well-intentioned civic apps – be they web-based, mobile or “any kind of civic technology which helps people solve any problem to do with public life“ – simply fail to lift off. That’s according to Tom Steinberg, director of U.K.-based innovators mySociety. They’re developers of FixMyStreet and a series of other platforms to help people engage in politics and policy. Project failures can be due to poor design, he said, but in other cases the culprit may be a lack of shareable parts from cohorts. Steinberg spoke Sunday, October 26th during a forum he led at the Mozilla Festival (Moz Fest), here.
by Matt Rosenberg October 25th, 2014
LONDON – Some of the best public interest news reporting starts with public records requests made by journalists or advocates, to governments. But it can be a sticky, confrontational process. Jeremia Kimelman thinks public records requesters can do better.
Kimelman, a Code for America Fellow, led a session Saturday, October 25, at the 2014 Mozilla Festival (MozFest), harvesting strategies on how to adapt records requests to the data age in a way that respects participants on both sides of the process. One essential ingredient for those requesting records is decidedly low-tech, said Kimelman: “(It’s) empathy. You need to actually pick up the telephone and call the public records officer and establish a relationship. In the end despite the laws it’s a people-based system.”
by Matt Rosenberg October 20th, 2014
In September, nearly four dozen U.S. Inspectors General signed a letter to Congressional committee leaders protesting the lack of transparency and access to material needed for their watchdog investigations. Yet it’s not usually inaccessible information that cuts the impact of the Inspectors. It’s the indifference of their parent agencies and Congress to the important findings they do produce.
Consider the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Inspector General, which reported that NRC’s failure to flag construction project changes at Southern California Edison’s San Onofre nuclear plant – tied to steam generator malfunctions – led to the site’s shutdown.
Not the first time
The incident at San Onofre was not a first. In October of 2013 the NRC’s IG reported the agency was failing to adequately regulate “active component aging” at nuclear plants nationwide, and recommended ways to improve oversight. Serious stuff, tied to heightened risks of reactor shutdowns, safety equipment failures and other potential safety risks. Yet in July of this year the IG had to issue a stern written warning to the NRC that its response to the report had been too dismissive. In 2007, the NRC’s IG warned the NRC it was then seven years overdue in addressing recommendations to improve safety oversight of uranium fuel production centers and other “major fuel cycle facilities.”
It’s part of a broader problem. In early 2009, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform reported that 13,800 IG recommendations made in reports from 2001 through 2008 had not been implemented, costing the nation $26 billion in identified savings. In a new version of that report issued in 2013, the totals jumped to 17,000 IG recommendations not fully implemented, at a cost of $67 billion.
Where do numbers like this come from? A few clues.
by Matt Rosenberg October 15th, 2014
It sounded like deja vu all over again: more bad news for beach-hoarding magnates who may employ gates, landscaping, fake garages and fake trespassing signs restricting access to public lands. A California court in late September ruled against Vinod Khosla, Sun Microsystems co-founder and clean energy investor, saying he couldn’t keep a locked gate to Martin’s Beach, reached along his Half Moon Bay property. Then Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill turning the screws on Khosla further. Still, the much-publicized case is but a speck of sand on the beach. There are 1,150 access points along the state’s 1,270-mile Pacific coastline, and many are tricky to find or use. The good news: fairly soon there’ll be a new way around that.
by Matt Rosenberg February 11th, 2014
In a January 30 report evaluating all 50 states on the sufficiency of their K-12 teaching profession laws, rules and regulations, a national education reform group funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other ed reform interests gives Washington State an overall grade of C- including a D+ for “delivering well-prepared teachers.” The C- for Washington includes four more sub-section grades: three of C- for policies to identify, retain and “exit” ineffective teachers, and a C+ for “expanding the teaching pool.” The information comes in the Washington detail section of the “2013 State Teacher Policy Yearbook” report by the National Council on Teacher Quality.