GovCamp on June 17, 2010

GovCamp June 17, 2010
GovCamp, June 17, 2010 @ TRL

Following up after a great event in Ottawa on June 1, 2010, my partners in crime at Microsoft and at ChangeCamp (Omar Rashid, Julia Stowell and Mark Kuznicki) are working to extend the conversation around participatory government, citizenship, open data and other stuff under the umbrella of gov2.0.

Wordle by Suzanne Long
Wordle by Suzanne Long

The event is a conversation. It’s talking about technocracy, Government transformation, public service renewal, open data, the social web and participatory approaches to public engagement. The event is invitation only. Why invitation only? Space is expensive and having a fixed event size makes it easier to manage. But we are actively looking for entrepreneurs and developers and others that are:

  • Municipal, Provincial or Federal public servant or a public sector agency employee with an interest in these topics
  • Thought leader looking to share and connect with this community
  • Member of the community of developers, advocates and practitioners in public engagement, government communications, technology, open data, open government or “Gov 2.0”

This is a great opportunity to connect with officials from local and provincial government and experts in the space. The invite says “special guests” but I’m hoping it’s conversation leaders include:

  • David Eaves, Public Policy Entrepreneur, Open Government Activist and Collaboration Expert
  • Dave Wallace, Chief Information Officer, City of Toronto
  • Steven Green, Director of Marketing & Communications, Cabinet Office, Government of Ontario
  • Peter MacLeod, Principal, MASSLBP
  • Alison Loat, Executive Director, Samara

I’m looking forward to hearing David Eaves response to the role of institutional oversight in auditing and the limits of public participation. 

Propose a Demo

If you’ve built an application designed to improve the lives of citizens using open data you should submit a demo for this event. This is your chance to get your application seen by people in this space. Are you building on the Did you build on something else? It doesn’t have to be Toronto. It could be another region or locality. It might be using licensed data sets. This is an opportunity to unlock a market.

Monetizing Gov 2.0 by Tim O’Reilly

Watch live video from Inc. Magazine on

Related Readings

Building a city that thinks like the web


Today marks an interesting day in Toronto. Today Toronto joins Washington, D.C., Vancouver, San Francisco, New York City, Australia, and the US in opening city data to citizens, companies, and the world to improve the quality of life. It begins a great journey to creating a strong new economy in Toronto around an infrastructure of city data.

It’s the data, stupid

(I feel like I’ve said this before).

“More and more governments state that opening government data is their priority, from the U.S: to the UK, from Australia to Belgium. Application contests (or mashup or idea contests) to engage citizen developers in creating new and valuable applications that leverage government data” – Andrea DiMaio

David Eaves identifies that data is the infrastructure for the next economy. It is the baseline upon which applications, value, and wealth can be built. I’ve talked about the benefit of data collection and the value-added analysis services in relation to personal health care. Data is the backbone, it is the building blocks from which developers can begin to build new applications and new services.

Mark Surman provides a great vision for the role that data plays in the development of a city. Re-reading his post has me thinking about a couple of challenges that need to be overcome to continue to enable the opening of city data.

  1. Costs of open data
  2. Economics of contests

Costs of open data

I think there needs to be an active discussion with citizens, politicians and staff members that open data is not free. There are costs associated with the production, release, maintenance, and up keep of the data sets. Additionally there may be a “build it, and they will come” model of development. Open data is not a replacement for city procurement. The city will still need to purchase software and look for ways to innovate to improve citizens lives. Open data is a building block to enable citizens, companies and communities to create applications the enable under-served (or self-served) parts of the city.

Economics of contests

Many of these cities have elected to host contests to encourage and incent local application developers to build upon the data sets.

I’m curious at the effectiveness of contests to engage the developer community and create a sustainable ecosystem. There is no question about the initial effectiveness as a tactic to create value. Apps for Democracy has shown a very strong contribution to the citizens, companies and communities of the District of Columbia.

“A $50,000 dollar investment in changing processes and offering prize money has so far yielded $2.3M in value. That’s a 46 times return on investment in one year.” – David Eaves

I’m curious about decay rate for contests. My feeling is that it is similar to the Chatter of the New Cycle. Where the contest and the data sets spike and then flow through the developer sphere just like news flows through blogosphere. 


I could be totally wrong, Sunlight Labs API shows a steady growth of the number of API calls. Apps for America 2 drew 46 submissions versus 44 for Apps for America, only a 5% growth in the number of submissions. (You might value measure of the applications as increasing with the increased API calls). More interestingly there are only 3 repeat submitters: ForumOne Communications; Jeremy Ashkenas; and Todd Fine in an initial pass of submitters. It’s actually highly probable that the number of repeat submitters is higher given submissions are often submitted with the name of the product or project.

Sustainable economies

Next I need to spend some time looking at sustainable digital ecosystems and economies. Looking at Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon for examples of engaging developers and creating an ecosystem for developers.

Any suggestions for reading would be appreciated.