Lauren Poe: Gov. 2.0 will bring together creative vision of community


Published: Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 22, 2013 at 11:49 p.m.

A resident of Boston goes out to her trashcan on a chilly fall evening to find a possum in the bottom of the receptacle. Not sure whether the possum was living or dead, or how to proceed, she posts the dilemma on Boston's Citizens Connect smartphone app.

Within minutes a stranger responds, "... Walked over to West Ninth Street. It's about three blocks from my house. Located trash can behind house. Possum? Check. Living? Yep. Turned the trash can on its side. Walked home. Good night, sweet possum."

Ah, the power of community. Sure, the resident could have called and left a message with animal control in the hopes that they could respond at some point the next day. But isn't the community-based solution so much more efficient, effective and just plain cool? Welcome to the possibilities of the next generation of government, Gov 2.0.

The Gainesville City Commission recently took action that will begin the process of transforming our city in ways yet unimaginable. In fact, the only limit on how our city government evolves is the creativity and imagination of our community itself. To better understand Gov 2.0, think of Gainesville providing the canvas and easel, unlocking the paint cabinet and asking our residents to let their creativity flow. Gov 2.0 does not decide what the picture should look like; it only frees the tools by which the masterpiece is stroked.

So while the recent article in The Gainesville Sun was partially correct when it reported that the city will begin making records public, we will be doing so much more. The difference is akin saying your new smartphone will allow you to calculate tips. Our new open government platform will include performance measures of city operations and data sets that can be transformed into a wide array of useful information, allow for app development for mobile devices and enable platforms for internal collaboration as well as public-private synergies.

The city is currently preparing data for use by all members of our community, no matter how tech savvy they may be. We will place a priority on being user-friendly and easily accessible. Citizens of other cities, counties and states that have moved to a more open government have made wide use of their data. People have created adopt-a-projects, from fire hydrants to bus shelters to medians. Citizens have used open government to plan cultural events, report issues and share resources. So share those biking trail maps, find the status of that rusted-out, door-less car in your neighbor's front yard, or develop an app to help residents manage their utility bill. Gov 2.0 will allow you to innovate.

Gov 2.0 will also include internal performance measures and financial updates. Much of these performance measures will be updated in real time. This instant feedback will allow citizens to better assess how well our government is doing our job and will hold employees accountable for the work they do. Citizens will be able to check on the status of roadwork, find out when the next bus will arrive or look up the status of a building permit. It also has the benefit of allowing resources to be redeployed as needs shift around our city, maximizing the effectiveness of city services.

Even more exciting are the opportunities Gov 2.0 will afford citizens for greater engagement, community collaboration and collective problem-solving. Would you like to weigh-in on the design of that new park project? Even better, would you like to interact with your neighbors on a true community vision? Gov 2.0 will enable that. How about that abandoned building up the road? We can slap a QR code on it, allow people to share their vision, and see the best ideas rise to the top of the discussion. Gov 2.0 will bring together the creative vision of our community while at the same time helping our government be more effective and responsive to our community's needs.

I hope you will join me as we prepare to transform ourselves as a government and a community. We will be working towards hosting a civic hack-a-thon on Open Data Day in February 2014. I invite you to follow me on Twitter (@laurenbpoe) for updates on our progress and information on ways you can participate. I hope you are as excited as I about transforming how we do civic engagement in Gainesville and are willing to be a part of this historic and innovative metamorphosis. #hackgainesville

Lauren Poe is a Gainesville city commissioner.

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