Blog Beat #3 – Washington DC Meet up!

As the Cherry Blossoms bloomed in Washington DC, our T/A Initiative Group has been working hard to use innovative technological tools to bring about a more just/transparent world. As you read through this Blog Beat, please think about ways in which you can collaborative directly with the people and organizations involved in these endeavours.  I encourage you to reach out, through one of the many technological channels available, and get cooking on exciting collaborations!

Hollie with Laia Grino from Inter Action, Alex Barth and Eric Gundersen from Development Seed

Ginned up from discussions at our last meet up in DC, Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Development Seed/MapBox are discussing the ways to use open mapping platforms for Farm Subsidy Data.  The project is extremely timely as the Farm Bill prepares to move forward in Congress. Stay tuned for a blog post examining exciting updates in OpenStreetMap including MapBox’s four-week data sprint rife with stunning visualizations. The data sprint is mapping in Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and U.S. Colleges. If you or your organization has helpful contacts for OSM in these areas please contact Eric Gundersen directly at eric@developmentseed.org.

World Resources Institute (WRI) has been engaged in a number of important projects, many of them inspired through collaborative engagements at Glen Cove.  For example, WRI’s Access Initiative is thinking about the proper ways to use open data – including creating a global legal index for public participation. Ideally, this would be a central index, built from crowd sourced data to map public participation laws quickly and flexibly.

In other work, they are looking to use the energy around the upcoming Open Government Partnership Brasilia meeting, and South Africa’s announcement of an Open Data portal (also through OGP) to figure out what needs natural resources information should be included.

Hollie with Laura Dean, Joe Foti and Anne Orchier

Joe Foti, from WRI, just came back from UNEP’s General Council meeting, where governments are well underway in negotiations for the Rio+20 Earth Summit.  One of the most exciting possibilities of the conference is a global treaty on Transparency, Accountability, and Participation.

In addition to the treaty, WRI and its partners are pushing for their countries to make public commitments on transparency and accountability. Part of this push is to get a participatory process for a “Compendium of Commitments” which would establish a process and minimum standards for the countries’ commitments on not only transparency and participation, but on all sustainable development issues. If you and or others in your organization want to get involved with any of WRI’s project, contact Joe Foti directly at JFoti@wri.org.

While WRI is working on pushing on a legislative agenda to encourage transparency in the international community, the Sunlight Foundation is working to encourage increased access to data within the United States.  Last week Sunlight announced an app called “Open States”for iPhones and iPads to enable up to the minute information on State Representatives’ voting records, legislative activity, and campaign contributions.

Daniel Schuman of Sunlight is currently working on an project to make the Library of Congress’ site THOMAS of federal legislation information more open and accessible.  The goal of the campaign is to enable the information to be open and able to be downloaded by developers and citizens more accessibly.  In its current format the data must be scrapped and then shared on a piece-meal basis.  If you are interested in getting involved in this project, contact Daniel Schuman at dschuman@sunlightfoundation.com.

As you can see, our network of practitioners are all working to make this world a better, more transparent place one piece of open data at a time.  How can we continually use the ever-changing technological tools at our disposal to bring about more transparent and accountable world governance?  Let us continually work at this lofty goal in collaborative engagements with one another.

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