My Big Idea: Democracy Should Be Data-Driven


“We’re not done until residents know how to and want to ask their government for open data.” -Jeff, Code for NoVA member

We experience government offline everyday; when we eat at a local restaurant, we can expect clean and healthy food; when we visit a local playground, we can expect safe, maintained play spaces.

But how do we experience government online? In the 21st century, we’re used to a wide range of online services for entertainment, shopping, and news. With each new year comes more online services as we move further into a data-driven economy. However, as government moves to leverage the advantages of an online format or presence, we move further into a data-driven democracy as well.

No matter the number of data sets that are open, or the number of useful local apps that are available for residents to engage with their government, at the end of the day, real innovation and progress begins with a simple step - a conversation.

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At Code for NoVA, we host a weekly meetup that offers Northern Virginia residents the opportunity to start their civic tech ideas with a conversation - with local technology/information workers, government innovation leaders, community subject matter experts, students, educators and more.

Then there’s the bigger conversation - the one between volunteer community groups like Code for NoVA, and tech innovators in the private sector, about how we can learn and grow from each other’s unique experiences. These are the conversations we are excited to be a part of as a community partner at Collaborate 2015.

Code for NoVA uses products from private sector innovators like GitHub and Facebook to make and publicize our citizen engagement apps, such as our City of Alexandria Playground mapper app, Alexandria Plays. As we learn coding and web-tech best practices by using industry proven platforms, we also learn the challenges of local customer adoption and the challenges of implementing tech in government. We meet at state-wide open government conferences, offer direction to local elected officials as members of local IT commissions, and represent the community as invited guests to government open data roundtables. We are the grassroots volunteer tech activist community that empowers residents to be part of an emerging data-driven democracy.

Code for NoVA is honored to be a community partner of Collaborate, and be a part of the conversation engaging industry tech leaders, government innovation internal champions, and community groups to discover the next great collaboration that will further the awareness and progress of our data driven democracy.

 

By Michelle Koeth

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