The city that thinks like the web: American perspective

In November of 2008 the City of Toronto hosted an internal Web 2.0 conference and invited Mark Surman – executive director of the Mozilla Foundation and long time participant in the Toronto social tech space – to deliver the keynote entitled “A City that Thinks like the Web“.

This marked a turning point in the history of the city. It was the moment when the Mayor, Council, City Staff and an increasing number of citizens collectively understood the power and potential of architecting a city to be open and participatory.

Below is the link to the talk:

“The open city motion”

WHEREAS [the City]is committed to bringing the community into City Hall by engaging citizens, and soliciting their ideas, input and creative energy;

WHEREAS municipalities around the world have an opportunity to dramatically lower their costs by collectively sharing and supporting software they use and create;

WHEREAS the total value of public data is maximized when provided for free or where necessary only a minimal cost of distribution;

WHEREAS when data is shared freely, citizens are enabled to use and re-purpose it to help create a more economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable city;

WHEREAS [the City] needs to look for opportunities for creating economic activity and partnership with the creative tech sector;

WHEREAS the adoption of open standards improves transparency, access to city information by citizens and businesses and improved coordination and efficiencies across municipal boundaries and with federal and provincial partners;

WHEREAS [the City] has incredible resources of data and information

WHEREAS digital innovation can enhance citizen communications, support the brand of the city as creative and innovative, improve service delivery, support citizens to self-organize and solve their own problems, and create a stronger sense of civic engagement, community, and pride.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT [the City] endorses the principles of transparency, civic engagement, and innovation through:

  • Open and Accessible Data: [the City] will freely share with citizens, businesses and other jurisdictions the greatest amount of data possible while respecting privacy and security concerns;
  • Open Standards: [the City] will move as quickly as possible to adopt prevailing open standards for data, documents, maps, and other formats of media;
  • Open Source Software: the City of Vancouver, when replacing existing software or considering new applications, will place open source software on an equal footing with proprietary systems during procurement cycles; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT in pursuit of open data the City will:

  • Identify immediate opportunities to distribute more of its data;
  • Index, publish and syndicate its data to the internet using prevailing open standards, interfaces and formats;
  • Develop a plan to digitize and freely distribute suitable archival data to the public;
  • Ensure that data supplied to the City by third parties (developers, contractors, consultants) is delivered in a prevailing open-standard format and licensed under permissive terms that allow the data to be treated as in the public domain;
  • License any software applications developed by the City such that they may be used by other municipalities, businesses, and the public without restriction.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED THAT the City Manager, and Deputy City Manager responsible for IT and the Mayor’s office be tasked with developing an action plan for implementation of the above.

via cities that think like the web

And here is a good talk on participatory govt:

Without participation, citizens can become increasingly alienated. Beth Noveck — President Obamas Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Open Government — wants to create more opportunities for citizens to engage and for government to engage in civic structures — a Noveck talks about some of the initiatives taken on by the US Government over the last year or so, and reflects on some of the successes and struggles.

Critical bits: 18:50min -summary of principles, 21:45min- action plan

And here some some project examples:

1. Broadband match: BroadbandMatch is an online service to help applicants for Recovery Act broadband grants find potential partners with whom to apply. Infrastructure providers find content providers! Large-scale institutions find small-scale community organizations! Practitioners find researchers!

2. Peertopatent: Peer-to-Patent opens the patent examination process to public participation for the first time.

3. Openthegovernment

4. Mashups, Blogs, Wikis Go Federal

5. freegovinfo


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