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Open government and open data are key ingredients to collaboration - both between departments within a municipal government, and between different divisions of government serving a common constituency.
A primary objective of the City of Philadelphia Open Government Plan is to foster collaboration and identify ways that different departments (and different governments) can jointly address the issues common to all. In addition, another desired outcome is a greater degree of collaboration with the local technology and civic hacking communities, to identify strategies for the collaborative development of useful and impactful solutions built with city data.
To enhance existing frameworks for collaboration, and to identify new opportunities for collaboration, the City of Philadelphia proposed to undertake the following actions in the first year of a formal open data effort:
- The Chief Innovation Officer will work with an internal group of stakeholders to identify opportunities to use the City’s existing contracting and procurement process to work more frequently and more extensively with local technology firms.
Year 1 Outcome: In early 2013, the City of Philadelphia launched a new website devoted to enabling outreach on contracting opportunities with the city that were focused on information technology and were small to medium-sized in scope. While much more work needs to be done on this front, the experience gained from the first several opportunities advertised through this channel have been extremely positive.
- Emulating the example brought to Philadelphia by Code for America, the Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Data Officer will actively explore additional opportunities to reach out to and partner with external software developers and technologists. Such activities will include, but not be limited to, software development challenges, civic hackathons and other types of events.
Year 1 Outcome: Staff from the Office of Innovation and Technology are regular attendees at civic hacking events through the city and at the regular meetups of the Code for America Brigade in Philadelphia. In addition, the Office of Innovation and Technology is working with other city entities to leverage outside developers to provide assistance through contests like one recently held to develop a new citizen-built widget for the Philly 311 Mobile app.
- The Chief Innovation Officer will identify opportunities to work with technology leaders in other city governments, to share ideas and best practices around open data and open government from across the country.
Year 1 Outcome: In addition to informal connections with other city officials, and participation in developing networks for city officials, the City of Philadelphia played host to the Mayor’s Summit on Innovation in May of 2013. This event brought together innovative mayors and other public officials from across the country to share ideas and best practices and to develop relationships that can be leveraged going forward to share innovative ideas for improving government operations.
- The Chief Innovation Officer will evaluate the opportunities presented by using more open source software as part of the City’s technology infrastructure, as a way to create more opportunities for collaboration with other governments and outside developers.
Year 1 Outcome: Integrating more open source software into the city’s IT infrastructure, and using it as a basis for more closely collaborating with outside developers is taking place, but typically only in the context of specific projects like the myPhillyRising app project. More work needs to be done to introduce open source software on a broader scale into the city’s IT platforms and components.
- The Chief Innovation Officer will partner with technology leaders in other public and quasi-public entities serving Philadelphia (SEPTA, School District, Parking Authority, etc.) and convene regular meetings with the technology executives of these organizations to discuss opportunities for collaboration and joint solution development.
Year 1 Outcome: An effort to establish regular meetings of the CIOs of the major public and quasi-public entities serving the City of Philadelphia is underway, and all of these entities are participating in the City’s Open Data Working Group.