European Directive Inspire is one of the most important legislative tools for the “opendata-believers” in the European Union. Specially if you are lacking an active national opendata program.

Here below is a first approach and basic introduction to understand why.

French Inspire case to follow :)

The United Nations E-Government Development Knowledge Base (UNKB) is a benchmarking tool that provides a comparative assessment for monitoring progress of a country’s E-Government Development from 2003 to 2010. As such it provides an interactive snapshot picture of a country’s E-Government Development in the world.

The UN e-Government survey assesses -almost- annually the eGovernment development of the UN member states according to a quantitative composite index:
– Egovernement development index
– Online service index and its components
– Telecommunications infrastructure index and its components

Egovernement index In 2008

The results of 2008 Survey indicated that governments were moving forward in e-government development around the world. However, given the high demands, progress was slow.

In terms of citizen engagement, the e-participation index indicated a modest upward movement with 189 countries online in 2008 as compared with 179 in 2005.

The United States scored the highest on the e-participation index. This was primarily due to its strength in e-information and e-consultation, which enabled its citizens to be more interactive with their government.
It was closely followed by the Republic of Korea (0.9773), which performed extremely well in the e-consultation assessment, Denmark (0.9318) and France (0.9318) were tied for third place.

In 2010, what changes ?

You can find all results and datas for each index on the UN website.

We’ll soon have more informations on this listing as the whole e-government survey for 2010 is about to be published. Here below is its table of content to be released.

PART I: Leveraging e-government at a time of financial and economic crisis
Chapter 1: Stimulus packages and financial bailouts
Chapter 2: Financial regulation and monitoring
Chapter 3: Public service delivery
PART II: Global e-government readiness
Chapter 4: The state of e-government by region
Chapter 5: The state of e-government by economic grouping
Chapter 6: Access and diversity

Sometimes, when identifying a case of failure in city infrastructure, people call the city’s general information number and sometimes they get transferred from one department to another only to give up. Now, mobile technology, real-time data capability, and social features have met to turn this frustrated notifier into an empowered citizen.

CitySourced” is an example of this government 2.0 movement which point is to use technology such as social media and wireless communications to make governments more efficient in delivering services where they’re most needed.

Citysourced quote“CitySourced provides a free, simple, and intuitive tool empowering citizens to identify civil issues (potholes, graffiti, trash, snow removal, etc.) and report them to city hall for quick resolution. […] The app on your Blackberry, Android or iPhone lets you take a picture of the infraction. The app detects your location via GPS and once the image is loaded and approved, you are brought to the reporting screen. You can then identify what the problem is, add comments, and Tweet the problem out from your Twitter account.”

Most cities already have their own systems for sending reports to different departments but CitySourced has developed software that formats the data properly to work with those systems.

“We provide a system that works with what they already have and charge a subscription fee” he says.
Several cities in the US have developed similar efforts, most of them using the iPhone.

New York City recently launched an iPhone application that enhances its report-problem service
Washington, D.C. residents can report problems via its DC report app (311)
Boston offers an iPhone app called Citizens Connect iPhone-using Pittsburgh residents use iBurgh
San Francisco residents can send direct messages via Twitter to the city of San Francisco, @SF311

Some of these sites are tied into local “reporting problems” systems, other aren’t. Some only e-mail back citizen reports and other are responsible for fixing it. Some of the systems are more transparent as to the disposition of reported issues than others and some are more advanced, technically than others. Some other parents: SeeClickFix or FixMyStreet

One question comes up: Why pay a fee to a private firm for a service a city might develop itself ?

Citysourced answers:
Cities that have built their own application have been known to spend as much as $80,000 doing it. We can do it for less. Plus, there’s a benefit that comes with having numerous cities share information on a large network. We can detect trends that are affecting lots of cities. We get better with every city that gets added.
The reports can also be a source of data used for other city services. A surge in graffiti in a neighborhood is often an early indicator of gang activity and can be used to alert police to bolster their patrols.

Smartphones are surely great tools to make cities better places. But are all the cities able to use effectively great tools ?

One unknown is how city service advisories are handled. Does this new service include new jobs or existing-job adaptation ? The second big unknown is how responsive the service can be and how will cities deal with new and fast upcoming feedbacks: more cleaning, more replacing, more work… less incomes ?

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This is a mash up of different articles-


Real Time Congress is a fast and free app to access real-time information about U.S. Congress on iPhone.

Lobbyists have spent lots of money to get access to real-time information on Congress, and it’s a divide that helped them be more powerful than most citizens. Now, the Sunlight Labs new Real Time Congress App put Congress informations into anyone’s hands all the time, making public empowerment real.

« Our goal at the Sunlight Foundation is to change the way that citizens collect information about their government, and then help them to use that information to change the way they interact with their government. This new app shows how powerful new programs and smart phones can accomplish that goal. »

Real Time Congress for the iPhone – and assimilated “Congress” for Android – are two examples of how powerful mobile applications can be in shifting the traditional balance of power.

« We want to make data about what’s happening inside Congress more available to the public. It isn’t just who your member of Congress is that matters, but also what they do. It’s also important to see what they’re reading and who they’re listening to, and what the process looks like.

The app displays an up-to-the-minute feed of updates from the House and Senate, notices, and key government documents as they are released with features such as:

  • Updates from the House and Senate floor as they happen.
  • Critical reports and memos as they are published online by officials
  • Daily and weekly notices
  • Schedule of upcoming committee hearings from House and Senate

Brad Bauman, a former congressional communications director, wrote:

« The Real Time Congress application will keep journalists, Hill staffers, bloggers and interested citizens up to date on what is happening in Congress, in real-time. Its ease of use and sleek design promise that end users will continue to go back to the app for unfiltered information on Congress so they can make their own informed decisions on what is happening in the Capitol. »

For now, all this information is displayed quite simply. There is no deep personalization, no search features and push notifications. Sunlight Labs will continue to improve on the app with user feedbacks.

Still, this kind of app will definitely change the way citizens collect information about their government – and maybe how they are able to use that information to engage with government in new and more effective ways.

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In a soon future, there will be no more wanderings, no more waiting line, no more dial, no more credit card…

If you don’t believe it, check out Taxi Magic.

Taxi Magic for iPhone can:

* Find taxis near you
* Book taxis without waiting on hold
* Remember previously booked locations
* Track your dispatched taxi on a map
* Display your driver’s name and car number
* Quickly pay by credit card

Insight: “Future is here, it’s just unfairly dispatched.”

With their respective Opendata Directives, Australia, USA and UK took a large step away from France on national transparency. While American Senate makes available all its voting datas, french national assembly still don’t show any informations, leading french citizens and non-governmental organizations to gather and work over getting datas created and usable.

Nosdeputes.fr is a french website willing to emphasize Parliament action. The dozen of democracygeek volunteers working on this project is synthesizing the various legislative activities of the elected officials. Their first work was to get and then make available the datas concerning commission works, speaches, law votes… This action leaded to the publication of the assiduity-graph of french deputies.

Soon came a new challenge.

Assemblée Nationale - Richardying CC

Assemblée Nationale - Richardying CC

After 2009 and a national debate over the lack of attendance of deputies to the National Assembly, internal assembly rules were modified with new amendment stating:

Beyond two absences […], each absence of a deputy at a commission or ordinary session [of Wednesday], gives place to the withdrawal of 25% on the monthly amount of its salary ».

As written previously, the workingday not attended by deputies are not public datas. Presidents of each commissions do have a list but it is not published. So guess what civilians from Nodeputes, under the organization Regardscitoyens.fr just did ?

They used their attendee made-up list to create a mashup to define absences and then published their study.

By calculating how many deputy-related-commissions took place and how many deputies really showed up on the days of commissions, they got the result.

According to the study, the new amendment did led to a higher attendance rate.

On average between the years 2008 and 2009, the deputies thus increased their frequentation of the obligatory meetings of Wednesday of 54%, passing from an average of one Wednesday presence out of three with one out of two.

And this assiduity is not limited to the only meetings of Wednesday: for these three same months, we can observe that the average of presence of a deputy in committee increases by 36%, that is to say the passage of approximately 3 days of commissions per month in 2008 to 4 in 2009.

Deputies attendance (Nosdeputes.fr)

Deputies attendance (Nosdeputes.fr)

RegardsCitoyens.org published the 42 deputies names who did not respect the amendement and their calcul shows 25 433€ shall be recovered from the total salaries but according to the Parliament, no salary deduction was required for the moment. This situation is particularly ironic as the leading-party UMP is willing to suppress welfares to families whose child misses school.

Video showing Assembly data (un)access, in french only

Techpresident published an article reporting the publication of a new report on digital political engagement by Members of Parliament in the UK.

The Irish House of Commons, 1780 by Francis Wh...
Image via Wikipedia

Entitled “MPs ONLINE, CONNECTING WITH CONSTITUENTS“, the key findings from this research sponsored by Microsoft are:

– 92% of MPs use email

– 83% of MPs have a personal website

23% of MPs use social networking

– 11% of MPs blog

However, the minority of MP’s using social networking do not usually involve intercommunication. Notice final recommendation:

MPs see the internet as primarily a tool to communicate and campaign, however,individual citizens and civil society groups can take the lead, creating engagement tools online and encouraging Mps to then take part.

In the Guardian article “The internet and politics: Revolution.com“, the edito states:

“Following Barack Obama’s successful use of social networking, British parties have redoubled their rush on to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. A few engaged MPs use such sites not only to broadcast their views but also to listen to their constituents. However, too much political effort online simply mimics traditional marketing-driven campaigning – treating voters as little more than shoppers, and policies as slickly packaged products.”

Back to the basics: defining social media.
Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, a two way effect.

The bad point about using limited version of social media (sic) is the lack of empowerment left to the citizens. Hard to imagine indeed, a collective campaign such as the one launched by the Sunlight Foundation to help lobby Congress vote on S. 482 and pressuring senators by tweeting them, if politicians are not techavailables.

This action seemed efficient as some senators ended up supporting the action but of course in order to launch such civic applications out ouf social media – Hadopi law may be a good test in France- politicians still need to be registered.

Here is “Human to Human” research on french politicians and social networks (in french only) where you learn that ministers may be present on social networks but not all are using the full potential neither. By recently checking out Jean-Pierre Chevenement and his blog with impressive feeds on the right side. -notice the iphone app- I notice that the communication team has corrected the “non-interactivity” issue.

So we are on the way, but it’s a long road.

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08:  Mayor of Lond...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This week, London Mayor announced the launch of a scheme to make the capital Britain’s first ‘Open Data’ city.

The London Datastore makes available a wide range of data about the city, open to use for free (dedicated to french collectivities) in Google Docs format.

Soon to come, many new city apps like this one: Where can I live ? This simple tool helps you answering the question: Where can I afford to live in London by specifying budget and commodities.

Not the most civic app I admit, but I could not help thinking about this tv show called “Looking for a house” where the realtor spend most of his time trying to persuade his customers that they can’t afford to live in Paris with their tiny budget.

Save a realtor, use this app !

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We’ve got it clear that Twitter revolutionized the way we interact but was it clear Twitter’s derivated would revolutionize the way visitors connect to their destination ?

Back to the basics, Twitter is a social networking service that allows users to send and receive instantaneous text within a 140-message.

Now, Twisitor is an application derivated from Twitter and allowing people to interact directly with the citizen of the visited city or its Tourism department. Here is the teaser:

Going somewhere? Get the insider information from those who know, the local tourism authority. Chances are that your final destination is already tweeting and ready to answer your questions and provide tips and recommendations. Connect with them here for all your planning, relaxing, vacationing and traveling needs.

Portland became the first American city to launch an official Twisitor Center – an online visitor information center relying on Twitter to connect travelers with people who can help plan their trips.

The way it works:  Add #inpdx to each tweet you request to have Portland informations and the Twisitor Center staff members will answer your questions.

Here below is the video made by Portland to explain the concept.

Can’t wait to see it in France !

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet on 10 jun 2006.
Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, UMP french leading-party secretary, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, introduced UMP new socialmedia: Les créateurs de possible.
The idea of this platform is to make it possible for every citizen to purpose, discuss, and get involved in community projects.
« Creators of opportunity», as it may be approximatively translated, is a Do It Yourself project launched by the french right-wing party. This platform of a new kind in France will be online in the following 24 hours.

Creators of opportunity is:

  1. A mash up of socialmedia to serve community
  2. A community open to all the citizens
  3. A simple design with easy ergonomics and traditional functions of a social network
  4. A free speech space with no moderation a priori (except for discriminative contents)
  5. A community where UMP logo does not appear (but the platform logo looks similar)
  6. A webspace emphasizing transparency and authenticity
  7. A social network using web20 tools to spread informations (Facebook, Twitter & Co, RSS)
  8. A platform with iphone app and some widgets available
  9. An online activism toolkit with apps such as online petition and door-to-door advises

Check out the movie.

Eventhough the presentation is not complete as I could not access the platform, this initiative has been underlined as « very risky » during its presentation.

Organized well, it would be easy for a bunch of opponents to transform this platform into a big mess.

The no-yet-existing digital identification would indeed allow anyone to use fake identities and post any irrelevant comment and there will be only 3 staff members to moderate 35 million potential french websurfers.

The Challenge

Maybe the purpose of this website (again, still to be seen) is not to recolt such a great amount of feedbacks. Maybe it could never be so popular anyway as french people have not answered yet the question:

Are you willing to animate a platform launched by a political party when his leader, french President Nicolas Sarkozy gets less than 40% of favorable opinion on national polls?

Of course, UMP presence on this platform seems to be insidious but confusion remains.

Is it a national platform for all citizens to solve problems conjointly ? Or is it a partisan website to launch partisane

projects ?

The UMP and its leader ‘popularity is not at its top and Sarkozy is not known as a man uniting people in real life. For these two reasons -at least- pretend to be able to bond french people on the web is indeed, so risky.

That is why one may regret that NKM, by the way mainly known as Secretary of State in charge of developping digital economy in France, created such an interesting tool for a « party concern only » instead of creating it for a national purpose.

At the meantime, French people are launching a « No-Sarkozy-day » on the net.

Déjà vu

On the other side of the (political) border, we can’t help but thinking about Segolene Royal « Desir d’avenir » platform. Segolene Royal is the french left-wing politician who ended 2nd to the run for presidency in 2007. She actually announced on december 28th that her collaborative website was turning into a platform of solidarity, « a fraternity and solidarity-based website to give a hand on each other projects ».  Platforms are being very trendy lately.

Concerning oversea empowerment projects, we could cite the City of Manor (TX) and its launching of « Manor Lab » that allows citizens to purpose and vote for local projects. http://www.manorlabs.org/

There is also Fixmystreet, the British DIY where you can report or discuss local problems http://www.fixmystreet.com/

Without mentioning all the citizen applications for iphone developped by cities such as New York, Washington, Portland, San Francisco and so on to emphasize interaction and community involvement. Not mentioning neither “Smarter government” project in the UK and “Engage” program in Australia.


So we finally made a point. But we still have time to make up on gov20 so let’s hope that this participative platform – as a first step- will turn to be successful, for an emerging edemocracy and gov20 in France and for the greater transparency that should inevitably follow.












Belle révolution en terme de politique et web participatif: Les createurs de possibles de l’UMP

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