March 31, 2010

Social Capital Review: "Civic Intelligence At Open Government West"

From Social Capital Review: "Civic Intelligence At Open Government West." An excerpt:

Liberating public data and packaging it in useful ways is a must, but savvy advocates and enablers of transparency also heard today at the Open Government West conference in Seattle City Hall that intermediaries are essential too, for "last mile" delivery to community collaborators. Bill Schrier, Chief Technology Officer for The City of Seattle, said governments "must deputize the private sector, non-profits and academics to distribute data" and help drive public engagement around solutions. Bill raises an important point. And while the open government "deputies" include developers of some mighty practical mobile, location-based apps built off government data sets, and developers of online whiteboard tools to collect suggestions for governments, there's a danger of being too government-centric about open government.

Maybe what's needed even more than open government, is what Douglas Schuler of The Public Sphere Project called "civic intelligence," formed around emergent patterns of civic thought and activity in communities, and used to develop responses to social and policy challenges and opportunities. This isn't primarily driven by government but it can be a vital partner.

Here's the full article.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2010

Social Capital Review: Crime-busting Is Civic Engagement, Too

In Social Capital Review, some thoughts about crime-busting as civic engagement. All brought on by the 60th birthday of the FBI's "10 Most Wanted List." But there are a lot of other ways to engage around public safety, not the least of which might be with mobile devices and real-time reporting of criminal activity unfolding on the streets.

Another way community engagement might boost crime-fighting would be the use of Web-based systems similar to FixMyStreet.com (in the U.K.). Similar tools could also enable reports in real time on mobile devices to a transparent, official law enforcement Web site about open air drug markets, prostitution and other crimes being committed in public view. This capability would be especially welcome in crime-riddled Seattle locations such as North Aurora Avenue, Belltown, Pioneer Square and Downtown. Confidential registration of “reporters” could be required to protect against false submissions. Response times and outcomes could then be tracked – again, transparently – on these special, two-way law enforcement sites. That would raise the bar on performance and accountability, something increasingly vital in a time of sharply limited public resources. And sharply limited police manpower.

Stay tuned to Social Capital Review for a steady stream of news and analysis on civic engagement, community-building and collaboration, public disclosure and transparency.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2010

Social Capital Review On "Social Entrepreneurship"

Over at Social Capital Review, some thoughts about what's these days called "social entrepreneurship."

...cannot traditional entrepreneurs also contribute mightily to addressing social problems?...This broader definition of social entrepreneurship is especially salient at a time when the United States is suffering through a full-blown recession and high unemployment, with attendant stress and hardship for many families and individuals. Understanding that all entrepreneurship is social accents the need for governments to foster economic development and for all parents to insist on access to quality education for their children.

More about Social Capital Review.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 07:40 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2010

Say Hello To Social Capital Review

After three years working as a Senior Fellow at a Seattle-based think tank focusing on surface transportation best practices, and, among other things, founding a blog there, I moved on in early January to a new position with a new organization. I'm now the Director of Countywide Community Forums, a privately-underwritten public engagement program which connects citizen advisors to King County government through small group meetings on designated issues, such as public safety, budget priorities, and transportation solutions. King County includes Seattle and another 38 cities, plus unincorporated areas. It's a geographically distinct region studded with beautiful mountains and water, abundant wildlife, and a robust economy including Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon.com, the University of Washington, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and countless other important enterprises, non-profits, and advocacy groups.

King County is also a place where folks are pretty passionate about politics and public policy, although in typical Seattle-area style, they manage to appear fairly dispassionate about their passion. And in my own view, that's actually a pretty good thing. Passion is wonderful, and energizing, but when it comes to politics and policy, too much of it leads to polarization. And political polarization is poison. More than ever, we need to be talking across the divide, not "narrowcasting" to like-minded brethren only.

King County provides regional bus service, law enforcement in many parts of the county outside Seattle, criminal and civil courts, prisons, public health and social services, wastewater treatment, parks, elections management, property tax assessments, and more. It's elected leadership is composed of a county executive, Dow Constantine, who happens to hail from my very own neighborhood of West Seattle, and nine county council members elected by district. They've got a lot of business to attend to, and they want to hear from you - not only in the usual ways such as e-mails, letters, phone calls, and through testimony at large public meetings, but also through the more considered and intimate dialogs - held at times and places convenient to you - that are CCF's stock in trade.

So, I'm glad to be part of this endeavor, which I've described in more detail in this post at the new blog I've founded for CCF, called "Social Capital Review." One other recent post is all about the "data liberation" movement beginning to sweep the halls of government. It's titled "Doing Government 2.0 The Right Way In Seattle." Another, by my colleague Carrie Shaw, a deputy citizen councilor coordinator for CCF, is titled, "Public Safety: A 'Paramount Duty' Of Government?" It reflects on new concerns raised about increased crime in downtown Seattle, and connects that with the work CCF councilors did just last autumn highlighting public safety issues in Seattle and elsewhere in King County. We're also looking forward to contributions by CCF's other deputy citizen councilor coordinator, John Spady, who like Carrie brings a wealth of experience and insight to the effort.

The main section at Social Capital Review is devoted to posts where we add some of our own perspectives, like the three linked above. Another section called "News Hub" helps keep track of some of the many stories flying by each week, in the public engagement and Government 2.0 spaces.

If these topics are of interest, come visit Social Capital Review. There will be fresh material several times weekly, and we'd welcome your comments on the articles. As well, if you live in King County, we'd love for you to register as a CCF citizen councilor, here. The next round will run from April 17 through the end of May. This time around, we'll be convening small group meetings to get feedback on how King County can improve trust in government, constituent service and public engagement.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)