By Raphael Majma, Sean Herron, Noah Manger, Victor Diaz Zapanta, and Amos Stone
Campaign finance information is not very approachable, even when made available as open data. The laws that regulate how money can be spent around elections are important to our democracy, but sometimes it’s…
What do the names Arya, Khaleesi , Daenerys, Stannis,Drogo, Tywin, and Tyrion, have in common? If you subscribe to HBO, you probably know that they are all names of popular characters on HBO’s TV series, Game of Thrones. What you may not know, however, is that you are likely to be surrounded…
Concerned Internet Citizens of California
Net Neutrality is a big deal. My opinion and as of today the opinion of our President. The FCC is considering a rule to allow internet providers to charge premo rates to big companies to give them better speed to deliver their content to you the consumer, sounds like a reasonable idea at first? The problem is the internet was create as an open, even, fair system and was engineered to always allow for fair treatment of anyone’s content- the problem is that when Verizon, Comcast etc charge Netflix big dollars for faster pipes, they can also refuse to do so and then favor their own network content- no longer a level playing field. For small businesses this means they will no longer be able to compete in the same way- startups like, say, Facebook several years back could not afford to pay for this premium delivery, so they get wiped out- bad for innovation, bad for consumers.
That’s a short a bad summary, anyway, there’s a great engagement and democracy side to this- the FCC opened up for comments and in new open government fashion then published all the >1 million comments in raw open data for free download, yay! The nice folks at Smarter Chicago beat me to processing the data, and so you also shouldn’t mess with that, just grab the data in a nice easy format. I wanted to see how active and how vocal different communities in California were about this issue- were big cities the source of the complaints? Were small, isolated towns aware of this issue and vocal?
I grabbed the processed data, aggregated by City names, cleared out some junk data, combined it with Census populations and locations (I forgot how painful it is to get basic Census data these days) and calculated a simple rate- for every 100,000 people in a city/town, how many comments got submitted- neither for or against, but just how active and engaged are people in California? There are a bunch of small towns left off as their rates are not reliable. Take a look at your region, are you surprised how high or low your rate is?
I was somewhat surprised to see a few rural towns topping the commenter lists- Nevada City (oops, maybe this is my family complaining?), has the highest rate followed by Sebastapol - NorCal represent… San Francisco, the tech darling is down at 44 with almost 7,000 comments but a rate of only 782. Oaktown is less activist full than normal at #80 with a rate of 536 and dearest Silicon Valley/Palo Alto is a shameful 63rd at a rate of 665- tech city needs some more concerned residents?
The data with city by city stats are below.
Do Oakland’s Civic Apps work for Oaklanders?
If that’s the type of question that gets you thinking, we want you!
OpenOakland creates digital tools to increase access to public information, to help Oaklanders engage more effectively with local government and with each other. We rely on the contributions and insights of Oaklanders with a variety of skills and occupations, not just tech geeks. One of our values is to design and build with rather than for people: collaborating with the communities we aim to serve.
We are forming a Civic User Testing program, to build better tools with the feedback, perspectives and new ideas of their intended users. If you have a desire to build new tools with Oaklanders, if you’re a UX professional or if you want to help build the first user testing program in Oakland’s civic space we invite you to join us on Tuesday July 15th as we plan out this new project.
We’ll be using the work of Smarter Chicago as a template to hack for use in our own city- the goals for tomorrow night will be to:
- Develop a plan of action;
- Select projects for user testing;
- Create a framework of priorities, criteria for participants.
So please join us in City Hall at 6:30pm on the 15th (yes tomorrow). Pizza and hacker fun guaranteed. Please RSVP for catering purposes.
Oakland’s City Council Tech to upgrade from 1997 software
"Legistar 4.8 has not been upgraded since purchase in 1997 & has reached the limits"
There are many big changes desperately needed in our city’s tech stack and this is one long overdue. Our ancient legislation software was the reason Miguel and his crew struggled so hard to complete the build-out of our Councilmatic system, however with this big upgrade, we’ll be using a similar system to other major cities which means both improved user facing functionality as well as a much easier deployment of a more robust Councilmatic system that has been tailored for this version by folks in Phily & Chicago.
Hi Spike – I spoke to Granicus immediately after to Finance. They reconfirmed they will turn on API. And yes, your feedback and that of many others will be important in this process. More to come and thank you for your support also. I must add that this wouldn’t have been possible without Bryan making it move. Looking forward to the next CityCamp event. Chat soon.-= LaTonda S.
I suppose there are two possible explanations for cops having such higher rates of violence against their partners, relative to the general population.
First, it could be that people with a tendency to violent and abusive behavior disproportionately gravitate towards law enforcement work, because of something specific to their personality types.
Secondly, it could be that the conditions of the job put cops on a violent hair-trigger, which they can’t easily turn off after going home.
But either way, the results are the same, and the results are the problem. Something has to be done, beginning with figuring out ways to break down the bullshit blue brotherhood (and it is mostly, still, a “brotherhood”) that protects abusive officers, whether their abusiveness transpires at home or on the job and in the streets.
Broadband Access in Alameda County
The digital divide is a very real and very stable reality in communities like Oakland, California. Knowing which neighborhoods have solid access to high speed internet is a critical aspect of planning for government and nonprofit provided online services- if we want low income folks from Oakland’s flatlands to use a new digital application, we’d damn sure better know how many households in the target areas likely have decent speed internet hookups at home! Luckily for us the FCC collects reliable data on this and they publish it freely at a local level.
Do yourself a favor and view the fullscreen version: http://cdb.io/1jq8wDq
I took the raw tract level data and joined it to census tracts in QGIS, calculated a new string field called “
Over the past few weeks, the future of the open internet has come into sharp focus, as the FCC’s 2010 open internet rules were struck down in court, and then plans for new rules from the FCC came into public view. Amidst fears that the internet is f**ked, debate has raged about what…
If you’d prefer to never see this kind of mess happening Oakland (thanks Berkeley for the great non-example), you should join Oakland Votes and many residents of the city to work on the creation of an independent Redistricting Commission for our city! Details on the flyer below- this will be a ballot measure this November assuming that city council passes it. The meeting is to get community input into the model Oakland chooses to adopt- both California and Austin have done this and we can learn form their efforts! We’ll have good food and you’ll get to play a valuable part in shaping the future of our city, and the future shape of our council maps too!
props to @mollyampersand for the original, distant design elements.
Oakland gets its crime data feed on
You may not have heard about this yet, which is a shame. It’s a shame because it’s a rare good thing in local government tech, because it’s a serious milestone for our city hall and because our local government isn’t yet facile with telling our community about the awesome things that do happen in Oakland’s city hall. But I’m excited, and I’m impressed that we’ve gotten here- Oakland’s crime report data is now being published daily, automatically, to the web, freely available for all.
This is quite a leap forward to where we were several years ago and in fact just year ago to be honest: spreadsheet hell. Often photocopied spreadsheet hell. Things happen slowly, but some things we’ve pushed for because we recognize their potential to change the game forever. First we pushed for opendata as a policy in the city, and we got there quick enough, but we’re now waiting in expectation for our new CIO Bryan Sastokas to publish the city’s very crucial open data implementation plan. Then we started pushing public records into the open with the excellent RecordTrac app that makes all public information requests public unless related to sensitive crime info. And now with local developers soaking up the public data available we have the first ever Oakland crime feed and an API to boot!
The API isn’t actually something the city built, it’s a significant side benefit of their Socrata data platform- just publish data in close to real time and their system will give you a tidy API to make it discoverable and connectable.You can access their API here:
If you’re more of an analyst or a journo or a citizen scientist you may want the data in bulk, which you can grab here. That link will get you to a file that is updated on a daily basis- pretty rad huh. Given how crime reports tend to trickle in- some get reported days after, some months, some get adjusted, the data will change over time- the only way to build a complete, perfect dataset is to constantly review for changes, update, replace etc- a very complicated task. If you want a bulk chunk of data covering multiple years, with many richer fields and much higher quality geocoding you can grab what we’ve published at http://newdata.openoakland.org/dataset/crime-reports (covers 2003 to 2013) and for the more recent historic version you can use this file: http://newdata.openoakland.org/dataset/oakland-crime-data-2007-2014
Now that we’ve figured out how to pump crime report data out of the city firewall, we can get to work connecting it to oakland.crimespotting.org and building dashboards to support community groups, city staff and more!
So thank you to the city staff who worked to get this done- now let’s get hacking!
Side bar- Oakland has finally gotten hold of it’s new Twitter handle: @Oakland is now online! More progress…