Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for April, 2010

City Of Shoreline 2010-2011 Goals And Work Plan

by April 12th, 2010

BACKGROUND. The community of Shoreline, Wash. developed throughout the 1900s and voted to incorporate in 1995. It has 50,000 residents and is the 15th most populous city in Washington state. The Shoreline City Council at a March 5 and 6, 2010 retreat began to formulate its 2010-2011 goals and work plan, which were subsequently refined at an April 5 study session. Tonight the Council will have an opportunity to vote for approval of the proposed goals and work plan, which would then form the basis for more detailed work plans and the city’s 2011 budget.

KEY LINK. Shoreline City Council 2010-2011 Goals And Work Plan.

HIGHLIGHTS. Key items include:

  • “Acquire Seattle Public Utilities water system in Shoreline; develop feasibility analysis and financial plan; negotiate acquisition; develop transition and implementation plan;”
  • “Update transportation master plan, including citywide trail, bicycle and transit elements;”
  • Work with Sound Transit and other stakeholders to implement the regional voter-approved Sound Transit 2 plan for extended light rail, through Shoreline;
  • Complete a transit-oriented development plan for the Aurora Ave. North Park-and-Ride facility at 192nd St.;
  • Complete portion of construction and enhancement project on Aurora Ave. North, from 168th St. to 185th St.; complete design, (land) acquisition and bidding for construction and enhancement work on Aurora from 185th St. to 192nd St., and secure funding;
  • Develop a “Healthy City” plan and complete scope of work for development of a city youth services master plan;
  • “Work with Shoreline Community College to establish a continuing small business development and assistance program;”
  • “Enhance opportunities for effective citizen communication and community engagement” through introduction of council meeting “e-comments;” social media tools such as Facebook and You Tube; holding community forums on key topics; and supporting growth efforts of community civic and volunteer organizations.

“Semantic Web” Or “Web 3.0” Includes Open Data Linked By Meanings

by April 12th, 2010

At ReadWriteWeb, Richard MacManus notes that neither online “open data” on its own, or online “linked data” on its own, is terribly useful. The real holy grail is online data that is open and linked. When this becomes pervasive, knowledge seekers will be better able to quickly survey that slice of the landscape they want to view, and then drill down, aggregate or add on where they wish. This without the piecemeal hunting for reliable data groupings that’s caused partly by unsophisticated or non-existent reliability indicies, and also current Web search protocols which tend to be keyed to exact terms rather than intended meanings. Linkage of open data will occur through use of “meta-deta” or descriptive terms of data categories.

This will allow search engines to capture broader meanings that link data and data sets, and is one core component of what is being called “The Semantic Web,” or “Web 3.0.” But it will require far-reaching agreements among data-providers on “master category” descriptors and their thorough application to online data. It’s not going to happen overnight, but business, government and non-profits will all find it in their best interests to collaborate on strengthening the ties that should bind data and allow filtering by reliability.

The initial “relational” piece is fairly huge in terms of knowledge organization and utilization. In fact, one of the real inventors of the Internet, is making this a priority.

The British government has invested £30 million (US$45 million), in a research center to further develop Tim Berners-Lee‘s Semantic Web. The center, to be called the Institute for Web Science, will be run by Berners-Lee, who formulated the basic protocols for the Web, along with University of Southampton artificial intelligence professor Nigel Shadbolt…The Semantic Web is Berners-Lee’s vision for how the Web should evolve beyond its origins as a worldwide repository of human-readable hyperlinked documents…

By using linked data, machines should be able to make inferences and reason about data found they find the Web, without human intervention, in effect turning the Web into a worldwide database. Linked data relies on a number of still-emerging Web standards. One is RDF (the Resource Description Framework), which can link two disparate sources of data…Linked Data, a compendium of linked data sources, has counted over 13 million triples, or RDFs that connect two different sources of data, from 200 data sources.

Why is this so huge, potentially?

Examine Portland Cases Cited By Organizers Of Olympia, Seattle Protests Against Police

by April 9th, 2010

Our civil society holds together very well, all in all. But rarely are we more challenged to uphold it than when police genuinely abuse their authority, or are questionably charged with doing so, or are marked for death simply because of their chosen profession. Western Washington and the world were shocked when Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton was assassinated last Halloween by a man – allegedly Christopher Monfort – whose loathing for police and authority reached a disturbing crescendo in a Seattle courtroom last month. The shock after Brenton’s heinous slaying turned to horror when weeks later four Lakewood, Wash. officers sitting in a coffee shop were murdered in cold blood by grudge-bearing career criminal Maurice Clemmons. The King County Sherriff’s office has become concerned enough about antipathy toward law enforcement officers to call for development of better threat assessment tools. The tensions are not abating.

Following recent protests in Portland against police for fatal shootings of civilian suspects there, small groups in Olympia yesterday and Seattle today staged violent protests against what they allege is police brutality. But the message was off-kilter. Dominic Holden of The Stranger covered the Seattle rally and got a handout which lauded Monfort, now facing a possible death penalty for the slaying of Officer Brenton. The flyer stated in part:

Monfort talked about police violence getting out of control in this country, and the media doing nothing to stop it. He referred to similar consolidations of power and violence under the regimes of Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler. It is no coincidence that sometimes people snap, and do whatever they can to fight back against the agents of this system. To win just a moment of justice, a moment of vengeance.

They are the bravest of us, the most honest. We don’t want them to be forgotten, but we also don’t want those who allow themselves to feel outrage at the cruelty of this system to always sacrifice themselves, alone. We recognize that there are millions of us who hate our bosses, who hate the police, who hate the politicians, and we’re ready to fight back.

Seattle Weekly also covered the protest and reported on another handbill being distributed which showed a police officer in rear profile as a bullet-riddled shooting range target.

All pathological enough. But what is not being reported in the recent stories on the Olympia and Seattle protests are the key details of the two fatal shootings by Portland Police which are cited by organizers of the coordinated West Coast protests as evidence of police brutality.

Washington State Joint Transportation Committee: Implementing Alternative Funding Methods

by April 9th, 2010

“The 2009 legislature directed the Joint Transportation Committee (JTC) to conduct a comprehensive analysis of mid-term and long-term transportation funding mechanisms and methods. The study analyzes the feasibility and practicality of implementing funding methodologies identified in the JTC’s 2007 Long-Term Transportation Financing Study, as well as other methods identified by the committee, staff, and consultants. The principle objective is to identify specific steps for the legislature and agencies to begin implementing viable mid-term and long-term transportation funding approaches.

…Since 2007 motor vehicle fuel consumption per capita has continued the decline that started in FY 1999. In FY 2009, for the first time, total motor vehicle fuel consumption declined over the previous year. The November 2009 forecast of motor vehicle fuel revenues is $1.6 billion lower over the 2009-25 16-year plan period than was forecast in 2007. The adoption of the new Corporate Average Fuel Standards (CAFÉ) that mandate higher levels of new vehicle fuel economy may further accelerate the erosion of revenues from the motor vehicle fuel tax.”

KEY LINK: “Implementing Alternative Transportation Funding Methods,” Washington State Legislature Joint Transportation Committee, 1/5/10.

HIGHLIGHTS: Implementation recommendations included:

  • “If the legislature decides to index fees or taxes, the legislature should set base fees, use the consumer price index (CPI) as the basis of an annual change, and have driver and vehicle fees rounded to the nearest whole dollar. States use many different indexes for changing fees or the motor vehicle fuel tax. The CPI is the easiest for the public to understand. Fees should be rounded to the nearest whole dollar to avoid very complicated fees….”
  • “Consistent with fees adopted for natural gas and propane powered vehicles, the legislature could adopt in-lieu-of (vehicle fuel tax) fees for electric and other high mileage vehicles.”
  • “Extend tolling applications. The legislature could fund additional projects with tolls.”
  • “The legislature could add a tire fee for transportation that extends to new vehicles and is higher for studded and larger tires.”
  • “The legislature could raise the additional sales and use tax on motor vehicles (tax is in addition to the state sales tax of 6.5 percent, which goes to the general fund) to 0.5 percent from the current 0.3 percent.”
  • “The legislature could consider allowing toll revenues and/or ferry fares to be used to provide corridor-specific transit service improvements.”

Gov 3.0 Has Entered The Building

by April 8th, 2010

By Michael Riedyk

…Web 3.0, built on the foundations of the Semantic Web, is not much of a replacement of Web 2.0, but, rather, an important addition. According to Wikipedia, the Semantic Web is “an evolving development of the World Wide Web in which the meaning (semantics) of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to “understand” and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.”

….the development of the World Wide Web has four stages or quadrants plotted along two axes – Increasing Social Connectivity and Increasing Knowledge Connections and Reasoning.

The four stages are briefly described as the following:

  1. The Web (Web 1.0) – “Connects Information” – has minimal social connectivity and knowledge connections and reasoning, and uses such technology as file servers, search engines and person-to-person file sharing.
  2. The Social Web (Web 2.0) – “Connects People” – still has minimal knowledge connections and reasoning but increasing social connectivity, and consists of blogs, social networking, mash-ups and the like.
  3. The Semantic Web (Web 3.0) – “Connects Knowledge” – has some social connectivity but increasing knowledge connections and reasoning, and relies on artificial intelligence, thesauri and taxonomies, and bots.
  4. The Ubiquitous Web (Web 4.0) – “Connects Intelligence” – will have increasing knowledge connections and reasoning as well as incoming social connectivity, and will rely on new technologies like automatic intellectual property, semantic wikis and smart markets.

While Web 2.0 is all about people engaging in social networks, Web 3.0 is the actually same but for machines or software applications (apps). Lets call Web 3.0 the “Facebook for Apps”.

The problem with HTML is that it works great for people, but not so good for apps that want to collaborate on information. Therefore, the  World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) developed the Resource Description Framework (RDF), an XML standard that defines relations between data (sources), relations and its semantics (what it is).

For example, when you publish something about “New York”, we all know that it is about a city. But apps don’t know that, so they couldn’t use that information. RDF provides a format that adds metadata and explains, in this case, that “New York” is a city. Other apps that look for information on New York can now use all information related to that RDF file.

With the semantics web, the web transforms from a bunch of unstructured web pages and separate databases into ONE BIG DATABASE!

The impact of the semantic web is massive. Applications can search, filter and aggregate information for us, rather than spending hours behind Google to collect manually. Apps could even give you personalized advice based on your profile, location and real-time data that is available on the web somewhere.

Back to the New York example: if I was to click on the word “New York” in this text, I would instantly get a flightplan (based on my schedule), the best attractions to go to (based on the fact that I have a family of four), a list of hotels that fit my current budget and personal preferences, friends who will be around and suggestions for people to meet. Thus, an unlimited amount of information and databases that match my personal profile and interests, without spending hours behind Google.

When will this happen? It is actually happening now already. More and more databases are published online or accessible via API’s. We only need to wait until more organizations make their data available in RDF. Once that happens, the web starts transforming into one database and we can start building intelligent apps on top of that.

What does this all has to do with Government or Gov 3.0? Well, following the Web 3.0 definition,

Gov 3.0 kicks-off when Governments start publishing Open Data using the semantic web standards (RDF).

The recent Open Government directive in the US and in the UK expect governments to publish their databases online. Open Data will be the next big trend in Government all over the world. The Open Gov West event in Seattle I attended last week was an important milestone: what started as a small event for a few people grew into a big event with almost 200 attendees from all over the US. The main question was a call for standards.

I have an important message for everyone who attended and those who are currently working on Open Data projects:

Publish all of that Open Data in RDF format. Chances are, this time governments and Gov 3.0 will be the driving force behind Web 3.0!

And we are a step closer to the Ubiquitous Web.

Public Health Seattle-King County Inspections Of Food-Service Establishments In Zip Code 98136

by April 7th, 2010

BACKGROUND: This overview from Public Health Seattle King County (PHSKC) reports there are an estimated 76 million people per year in the U.S. who suffer from food-borne illnesses, and 5,000 who die annually in the U.S. from these ailments, which include botulism, campylobacteriosis, norovirus, salmonellosis, and shigellosis.

PHSKC performs regular health inspections of food service establishments to protect consumers from – and educate operators about – the risk of food-borne disease. Inspection records can be viewed at this PHSKC database, which is searchable by variables including name or zip code.

The more serious violations are classified as “red critical,” which convey the highest risk of causing food-borne disease. Blue violations are also reported, related to maintenance and cleanliness. Points are assigned after each inspection. Zero is a perfect score. If 35 or more red points are given for a single visit, a re-inspection is required in 14 days. If 90 or more red points are given in a visit, or 120 or more red and blue points combined, the establishment is closed.

Salmonella Bacteria

There are relatively few closures. But while some restaurants have few or no violations, others have multiple violations, accrued over multiple inspections. If earlier visits yielded violations but recent visits showed no violations, that is one indication of improvement. If violations continue to occur during the most recent inspections, that may be cause for concern, for some consumers.

In the 98136 zip code in West Seattle, most food service establishments were inspected four times since 2008 unless otherwise noted. Here is the PHSKC index page with links to reports for ALL inspected food service establishments in the 98136 zip code. Below are links to selected reports in 98136 for establishments with the most violations (addresses included).

Abbondanza. 4 “red critical” violations and 3 blue violations – including “insects, rodents, animals present, entrance uncontrolled;” “food not protected from potential contamination during preparation, storage, display;” “improper reheating procedures for hot holding;” and “improper cold holding temperatures.”

Endolyne Joe’s. 3 “red critical” and 3 blue violations, including: “raw meats, poultry, aquatic foods not stored away from ready-to-eat foods;” and “improper cold holding temperatures.”

Feedback Lounge. 1 “red critical” and 1 blue violation in 2 inspections – including: “improper cold holding temperatures;” and “food not protected from potential contamination during preparation, storage, display.”

Ho-Win. 4 “red critical” and 5 blue violations – including: “improper cold holding temperatures;” “room temperature storage;” “food contact surface used for raw meats, poultry, aquatic foods or ready-to-eat foods not thoroughly cleaned and sanitized;” “physical facilities not properly installed, maintained, clean;” and “unnecessary persons not excluded from establishment.”

Jade West. 4 “red critical” violations in three inspections – including – “room temperature storage;” “raw meats, poultry and aquatic foods not stored away from ready-to-eat foods;” “improper cold holding temperatures;” and “improper methods used to prevent bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.”

Lincoln Food Mart. 3 “red critical” violations in three inspections – including: “toxic substances improperly identified, stored and used;” “inadequate hand washing facilities;” and “thermometers not available or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods.”

Loki Fish Co., at Farmers Market. 2 “red critical” and 3 blue violations in 7 inspections – including: “thermometers not available or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods;” and “improper cold holding temperatures.”

New Teriyaki And Wok. 5 “red critical” and 2 blue violations – including: “raw meats, poultry and aquatic foods not stored away from ready-to-eat foods;” “hands not washed;” “room temperature storage;” and “improper methods used to prevent bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.”

Papa John’s: 3 “red critical” violations – including: “improper cold holding temperatures;” and “inadequate hand washing facilities.”

Sub Shop ##9. 4 “red critical” violations – including: “improper cold holding temperatures;” “thermometers not available or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods;” and “inadequate hand washing facilities.”

Subway: 5 blue violations – including: “physical facilities not properly installed, maintained, clean;” and “non-food contact surfaces not maintained, clean, sanitized.”

Thai Tan. 2 “red critical” and I blue violation in 2 inspections – including “improper cold holding temperatures;” and “raw meats, poultry and aquatic foods not stored away from ready-to-eat foods.”

West Seattle Thriftway Grocery: 4 “red critical” and 2 blue violations in 2 inspections – including: “improper washing of fruits and vegetables;” “improper cold holding temperatures;” “food not protected from potential contamination during preparation, storage, display;” and “improper methods used to prevent bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.”

West Seattle Thriftway Meat and Seafood Shop. 4 “red critical” violations – including: “improper parasite destruction procedures for fish.”

UPDATE, 5/26/10: It’s good to see others using this database, as well. Here’s a recent report from a neighborhood news blog in Seattle. “How Did Your Favorite Restaurant Fare At Inspection,” Maple Leaf Life, 5/24/10