Journal: Local Governments Harness Citizen Minds

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New York Times Full Story Online
New York Times Full Story Online

SAN FRANCISCO — A big pile of city crime reports is not all that useful. But what if you could combine that data with information on bars, sidewalks and subway stations to find the safest route home after a night out?  . . .

“It will change the way citizens and government interact, but perhaps most important, it’s going to change the way elected officials and civil servants deliver programs, services and promises,” said Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, which is one of the cities leading the way in releasing government data to Web developers. “I can’t wait until it challenges and infuriates the bureaucracy.”

Advocates of these open-data efforts say they can help citizens figure out what is going on in their backyards and judge how their government is performing.

Phi Beta Iota: Alvin Toffler called it first, in PowerShift.  Governments are now “dumb” in the face of complexity and ambiguity, but the least dumb are figuring out that creating Smart Communities starts with Open Everythiing and makes self-governance smart again.  This is consistent with the rise of “Home Rule” across many counties, where corporations chartered by the public are bieng required to waive their inappropriately garnered “personality” if they wish to do business with the people.