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[liberationtech] News Challenge: Open Data - Useful for People/Communities, Address Inequities, Protect Liberties - Due Sept 30

Steven Clift clift at
Wed Sep 30 13:49:09 PDT 2015

I'd love to hear what folks submitted. Please share back. - Steve

Here is my submission:

Community Data Surge - Defeating the Democratic Data Deficit

A strategy for universal local open data sharing based on emerging
"local everywhere" standards to generate inclusive civic engagement.

Written by Steven Clift

Updated 14 minutes ago

In one sentence, describe your idea as simply as possible.

Generate and share essential open data on local democracy everywhere
through open standards, distributed tools and features integrated by
often competing software providers, and crucially foster next
generation laws that make exceptional digital innovations inclusively
available for ALL.


Briefly describe the need that you're trying to address.

Timely access to information - particularly personalized notifications
sharing who, what, when, where data SO people can act it when it still
matters - is fundamentally empowering for people in their local
community and democracy. Our 2 decades of experience with civic tech
is that without aggressive inclusion efforts with open government,
only the most political in wired larger cities will benefit. Most
people will be left with an unreliable patchwork of data and services
for local democracy.


Lots more:
Steven Clift  -  Executive Director,
   clift at  -  +1 612 234 7072
   @democracy  -

Also with Knowledge Hub - steven.clift at
   World leading online public services exchange:
   Call # above or +44 203 808 1118  (After 13:00 UK time)

On Wed, Sep 9, 2015 at 1:08 PM, Steven Clift <clift at> wrote:
> That's my own spin on the subject line.
> It is interesting how the different partners display their emphasis.
> It will be intriguing to see the mix in the end. Addressing inequities
> with open data/open gov/civic tech needs more than lip service and
> rarely gets significant investment when it runs into the meritocracy.
> Challenge:
> Open Data Entries:
> Brief:
> Blog/video:
> Press Release:
> From the release:
> “We live in an age where everyone has the potential to access and
> explore large amounts of data. We hope the challenge will uncover
> ideas that can turn this data into useful information, so people can
> use it to make decisions about their lives and their communities,”
> said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media
> innovation.
> “Data can be used for countless productive and disruptive purposes.
> How can data be used to combat discrimination and injustice? How can
> marginalized communities gain control of data-related interventions
> that affect them? We hope this challenge produces sharp ideas for
> addressing inequities in society,” said danah boyd, founder of Data &
> Society.
> “This challenge offers an opportunity to dive into the difficult
> questions inherent in our increasingly ‘quantified society’ – how to
> build systems that allow us to benefit from an increasing amount of
> information, while ensuring that we protect our civil liberties and do
> not create new forms of discrimination. We look forward to seeing the
> results,” said Janet Haven, associate director of the Open Society
> Foundations’ Information Program.
> ...
> I have two initial ideas:
> 1. Democratic Data Deficit - If we really care about empowering people
> to make decisions in their community and democracy, we need to
> fundamentally address the complete lack of structured data about local
> representatives and representative processes. From who represents me
> _at the very local level_ to when is the next public meeting to
> options to receive pro-active notification about an agenda item I care
> about - you can't open data that doesn't exist in a structured form.
> And you can't expect volunteers to crowd source or scrape and bake
> this data on a sustained basis beyond the mega cities if that. So the
> best way to collect and share open data on local democracy is to
> _mandate_ its creation and share via the rule of law at the state
> level. Then this data can be generated and shared (and involve the
> Secretary of State's in most states to coordinate and make it happen).
> If you want to help me explore this join our E-Democracy Projects list
> - and/or drop me - clift at -
> a note. My proposal will build from if
> you want to read more (sample legislative proposals to turn some of
> the 10 indicators into legal requirements combined with tech efforts
> to show what you can do with what exists "democratic" data wise in
> sadly the rare places where the such public meeting, etc. data is
> accessible )
> 2. Your Next Representative - Let's give the News Challenge another
> chance to see the fundamental importance and huuuuge opportunity to
> create a global engine for helping voters find their candidates and
> mix it up with them on social media. This has awesome transformative
> potential:   - Join the Poplus
> group:
> Full disclosure: Knight funded a small prototype grant -
> -  for Argentina and the
> U.S.. In the U.S., DataMade in Chicago recently connected with
> to demonstrate the tool in a U.S. local election using
> candidate social media data we've been crowd-sourcing on a volunteer
> basis over the summer (in collaboration with Open Twin Cities a CfA
> Brigade). One interesting use of social media data is the creation of
> yet to be promoted Facebook Interest List on all the St. Paul
> candidates Facebook Pages and crucially _public posts to their
> Profiles_. Check it out:
> (Imagine if every city had a place where you could watch the campaign
> like this or post-election connect with your representatives like this
> also not yet promoted Interest list for Minneapolis:
> )  More (work in progress,
> *pre* using Your Next Rep  BTW, for
> the developers out there:
> Cheers,
> Steven Clift

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