Live Blogging from Community Matters (Friday)

This is the last day of the conference and, unfortunately, my flight leaves at 1:20 and so I am not going to be able to stay for the final presentation. That may disappoint the Orton people that have been so kind to me, but it is what needed to happen. My two little girls are waiting and my wife has already told me that she may "need some time" on Saturday to recharge her battery. I am lucky for the people back home (Justin, Ben, Jon) and for my family who make it possible for me to be out here.

Gov 2.0: Transparent, Responsive Government

Bonnie Shaw started the discussion today with an overview of Gov 2.0. I'll repeat here what I said in a post yesterday

Bonnie was one of the group I met with on Tuesday and, after only knowing her for a couple days, I can already tell she is one of those people destined to change the world. Along with her business parter at BYO Consulting, Yasmin Fodil (Twitter), she is mashing up people, place and heart using technology in amazing and absolutely brilliant ways. I felt really fortunate to be able to spend some time getting a personal tour of their work and seeing how it has touched literally thousands of people around the world. It was very inspiring. If you have a need to bring people together to share a common vision, I highly recommend that you get a hold of Bonnie and Yasmin.

If you are a local government and have any question on deploying technology solutions and increasing public participation, I would start with Bonnie, Yasmin and BYO Consulting

Golden Colorado is doing a complete website makeover, trying to get beyond the current, standard government format. Some of the things they are doing/using:

  • YourGov ( is a mobile application that allows residents to take a picture of a problem and then transmit that to the local government with the location automatically attached.
  • They are also using EZ Maps (, which is a graphical interface that allows people to search a map of the city.
  • Community Alamac (, a collaborative blogging program for building community connections and discussions.
  • They are also using Facebook and Twitter to put out news releases, largely to local media and whoever else wants to befriend the city. They are also putting city videos on YouTube (, taking their own video of events and giving it to local media before they even ask for it. She talked about helping out the stations that are having staff cuts, getting them the story they might not otherwise get. (My wife, the journalist, would not appreciate the idea that this is a good way to get the "right story" out there, but it is a good idea from the city's PR standpoint).
  • i-Neighbors ( is a bulliten board system that can be used to connect neighborhoods.
  • They also use a service called Granicus ( that streams their council meetings over the web and then archives that meeting. I am not sure if another service - e Comment - goes with Granicus or not but it is a way for people to comment on an agenda item before or after the meeting.

Dustin Haisler of Manor, TX, explained much of the innovation they have done. He started by asking; Can crowdsourcing work? His response; If you give people a megaphone, they are going to largely voice complaints. They need direction.

He presented a system they had for gathering ideas and using incentives to nurture them.

They use something called QR codes -- something like a bar code for your cell phone to scan -- that is very low cost and allows data to be transmitted spatially. It looked like you could have an historic tour of the town, where people come across a building or park and can download the history. They also allowed people to reserve the park by scanning the code. This is amazing stuff.

SeeClickFix allows residents to report potholes that need to be fixed and then vote on the most urgent.

They use Wordpress for their web platform. It is easily replicable. In fact, they gave it to another cities to see if they could deploy it and they did, in one month, at no cost. You can find their work online at

My notes from the Q&A session.

  • The Air Force has a policy for maintaining their Facebook page that is worth copying. 
  • You can use to backup and archive webpages for the historic record.
  • Tweetdeck is used to stay connected to discussions concerning the city. 
  • We're empowering the wrong people today. Today we empower CIO's and other technology geeks. We need to actually empower citizens, which is what these technologies can do.
  • Betacities is a "Facebook" for cities and city managers to learn about deploying a local strategy and interact about problems/solutions.
  • is like Betacities but it includes state and federal.

Powerful final statement for those who fear the mob: The technology is free and easy to use. This means that citizens are going to create platforms to push change if they are not already there. Governments that get out in front of this can harness the power and use it to be better. Those that can't do this face the real likelihood of losing control.

Here is the graphic representation of this session:

Thank you to everyone who has followed Strong Towns during the Community Matters '10 conference. I invite you to join us on Facebook and Twitter. Or you can also sign up for a Curbside Chat and bring the Strong Towns message to your community.