Saturday, January 30, 2010

South Dakota County Websites

This is a working list. Note the utter lack of coordination. The South Dakota Association of County Officials keeps track of these as well.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Swindon UK Builds Municipal Wi-Fi

Keep building those community-wide public Wi-Fi hotspots! Next up—Swindon in Wiltshire, U.K.. 1400 access points, free 20Mb access for up to two hours a day, all to build a framework for expanding more connectivity for business and government:

Swindon council leader Rod Bluh said the project would lay the groundwork for some exciting potential new ‘wired up’ public services that could be offered by the council and partner bodies in future. “The really exciting part of the project is the applications we can roll off the back of it: business security at a very low cost, energy monitoring services, even medical services. I think this has got the capacity to change the way the public sector does business, and parts of the private sector” [Tristan Parker, "‘Mesh’ Scheme Offers New Model For Free Local Wi-Fi," E-Government Bulletin, 2009.11.30].

Universal Web access means local governments can use the Web more to inform and involve their citizens. I think Jefferson would dig that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Web 2.0 to Replace Political Parties?

E-Gov Bulletin from the UK suggests that social networks could sweep away political parties. Dr. Ian Kearns, former Head of the e-Government Programme at the Institute for Public Policy Research, tells the House of Commons' Parliamentary IT Committee that Web 2.0 is giving people the tools to recognize and use their power to organize and campaign.

Dr. Kearns is speaking in the British parliamentary context where third parties have a reasonable shot at making a difference. I'm not sure social networks would have as easy of a time upending one of our two dominant parties. However, his point that parties can (and must!) take advantage of the technology is proven by the Howard Dean and Barack Obama presidential campaigns. The Internet and social apps (plus a good spreadsheet) put as much organizing power in the hands of two local advocates in a back office as could have been mustered by a national campaign office a couple decades ago.

While the technology is powerful, Dr. Kearns emphasizes that the big shift is in how we use the technology, how we expect to be involved in the information process. Yes, it's the consumer-producer-conducer paradigm shift! Politicans need to get out of "broadcast" mode and recognize that politics is much more a two-way, participatory endeavor. The new politics is all about openness and engagement. If you're running for office, you can't just put up a website; you have to invite your voters in to build that website—to build its content—for you.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Electronic Participatory Budgeting: UK Reads Me!

My MWDSI 2009 paper was a day late and a euro short, thanks to Freiburg im Breisgau, but the U.K.'s still thought my discussion of electronic participatory budgeting was worth reading... and publishing! Editor Dan Jellinek boiled it down to an essay (stripping out all those boring old APA citations) and posted it in Headstar's E-Government Bulletin Live online newsletter. Cool!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Participatory Redistricting in Ohio!

Check out the Ohio Redistricting Competition: anyone (in Ohio or elsewhere) can log on and try heir hand at setting the boundaries for Ohio's legislative districts. The Secretary of State worked with a couple of legislators and Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, and Ohio Citizen Action to put this contest together. Entrants put together maps that will be scored by these criteria:

  1. Compactness (25 points)
  2. Communities of Interest (25 pts)
  3. Competitiveness (12.5 pts)
  4. Representational Fairness (12.5 pts)
The districts also have to meet legal thresholds of population equality (as close as possible), contiguity (point-contiguity not enough!), and provision of at least one "majority-minority" Congressional district (National Voting Rights Act).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Participatory Budgeting: More Resources!

Catching up with notes from the Facebook participatory budgeting group:

Beyond Elections: a documentary by Silvia Leindecker and Michael Fox that asks a very simple question: What is democracy? Chapter 1 is all about participatory budgeting:

Open Budget Iowa: Iowa House Democratic Caucus takes a swing at getting some citizen input on the state budget. Pretty straightforward blog, no apparent effort to compile, summarize, or synthesize the citizen input, just posts with long comment lists. New content appears to dwindle; nothing new posted by organizers since end of January. Plus, as I look at the comments, I see lots of citizens dropping suggestions in the box, but not a lot of response from or interaction with legislators.

The UK Participatory Budgeting Unit has its own YouTube channel! See what those clever Brits are up to!

Tiago Peixoto at reviews some state-level quasi-PB initiatives in New York, Arizona, Virginia, Nevada, and Minnesota.

Mayor Nutter of Philadelphia has put up a municipal budget cite to inform citizens and solicit their input in the run-up to his presentation of the city budget in mid-March. The site includes various supporting documents and news stories. Four public fora in February around the city drew 1700 participants. But too many PDFs! The project is supported by U Penn's Penn Project for Civic Engagement.

Open Budget Index: The Open Budget Initiative focuses on budget transparency. They studied 85 countries and found that 80% of those governments fail to give their citizens enough information to effectively monitor their governments' budgets. The U.S. does at least rank fifth, behind the U.K., South Africa, France, and New Zealand. Brazil, the home of PB, ranks eighth (remember, this is federal level, not municipal, where PB is happening).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

838: turning random curiosity into publishable work

Quick notes, 838, meeting with Amit:

  • Come up with a clear list of requirements. Don't sweat the existence of other systems. Go ahead, catalog those other systems, but make the system that meets your reqs.
  • Borrow from large-group collaboration research
  • --making room for more voices, allowing all to speak: recall the introductory survey/requirement idea
  • "social phenomenon is PB itself"
  • education! pre-test and post-test: "What do you think are the key issues in the budget?" test for educating
  • so these other systems exist -- they haven't been studied yet. The focus that makes the paper worthwhile is studying the system in the context of the constructs.
  • But what is your theory? What are you testing? You can't just go out, hand out a survey at random, and get a bunch of data. What is your theory? Go look on AISWorld, find the theory list.


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