Sunday, October 17, 2010 - By Ben Berkowitz - No comments

Storm Warning

There is some concern at the Federal Level that Open Government is a democratic fad set to go out of style with a changing of the guard.  At some level I understand the concern. There was a synergy, not to be taken for granted, between the Federal Open Data movement and the local open government movement.

But lets be serious...

This is a disruption and open government was coming to the government whether the government asked for it or not. This in not a Democrat or Republican agenda.  This is a good government agenda.  Political candidates as well as elected officials on both sides of the aisle as well as their constituents understand the value of greater participation and transparency whether you support gay marriage or are pro-life.

Everyday citizens have now started to experience the positive reward of a more open society and a government that can dynamically adjust to that.  Even if a political party wanted to take that away they could not. Being engaged is fast becoming the norm and apathy is dying. The doors have been opened and two many people are in the entryway to close them again.

Today in Rhode Island and Independent candidate for Governor is hosting a SeeClickFix Storm on the heals of his announcement for an Open Government platform for Rhode Island.  What is SeeClickFix storm and why is a Gubernatorial candidate starting one? An SCFStorm is an opportunity for a community to go out and blanket their neighborhoods with documentation of the things that need to be improved. They will post it publicly on SeeClickFix and surely meaningful resolutions, and if not that, conversations will come of the issues that are documented.   Average citizens will be voting with the web and their smartphones for better communities weeks before the voting booths open.  It is a promise that no matter who gets into office there will be active community participants who will advise their elected officials the other 364 days out of the year.

As it turns out I received an email from a friend of the opponent yesterday asking if we would endorse their candidate. We we want to be very clear that we are not publicly endorsing any candidate. We are however endorsing an open government platform and would love all political parties to do the same.

"With this 'SeeClickFix Storm,' we can start using SeeClickFix statewide and getting community issues fixed.  And more broadly, Rhode Island citizens can participate in the work of government in a meaningful way."

- Lincoln Chafee, Independent Candidate for Governor of Rhode Island.

2.5 years ago we could not get the City of San Francisco to embrace open civic reporting. Today they are at the forefront of the Open Government movement. And that cultural shift has spread everywhere...Just last week four democratically elected Councilors in Saudi Arabia (A federal monarchy) signed up for open government with SeeClickFix.

The world has changed and closed society can not have it back.


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