Public Participation

Mark Headd edited this page Jul 10, 2013 · 8 revisions

One of the most important components of a successful open government program is the community of stakeholders built around finding solutions to shared problems. The City of Philadelphia is committed to engaging with the public as a key component of its open government strategy.

The City of Philadelphia’s 311 service, and an accompanying mobile application deployed in late 2012, enable any city resident or visitor to report a problem and have their issue addressed quickly and efficiently by the appropriate City department. In addition, the City has made data on 311 service requests submitted through the Philly311 Mobile App available through a public facing API.

The City’s Office of Innovation and Technology has brought together community groups, city agencies and educators to form the Freedom Rings Partnership, a public technology collaborative formed to improve digital literacy and close significant technology access and skill gaps that are particularly persistent in low-income neighborhoods. The partnership has deployed a network of technology-enabled community centers known as KEYSPOTS across Philadelphia, to provide - among other things - easy access to technology and the Internet . These centers will play an important role going forward in the City’s efforts to reach out to all Philadelphians as part of its open government efforts.

To enhance public participation through the City’s Open Government initiative, the City of Philadelphia proposed to undertake the following actions in the first year of a formal open data effort:

To enhance public participation through the City’s Open Government initiative, 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 ensure the development of robust mechanisms for the public to provide feedback on the quality of open data provided by the City through its official Open Data Portal. Such mechanisms will also ensure that the public has access to easy channels to request new data sets not currently available.

Year 1 Outcome: A number of different channels have been developed for soliciting citizen feedback on data sets that should be released by the City of Philadelphia. Chief among them is the Open Data Forum where new releases are announced and discussed and where questions from the community can be answered and shared with other data users.

  • The Chief Innovation Officer will work with a group of internal stakeholders to develop an audit of existing City processes, identifying those that are open to and encourage public participation. This audit will:
  1. Detail the steps taken as a part of each process that are used to engage the public, to determine where gaps in outreach exist and where similar strategies for engagement are used.

  2. Inform a set of recommendations to all City departments on methods and strategies that can be used as part of rule-making and policy deliberation processes to include and engage with citizens in the City of Philadelphia .

Year 1 Outcome: Work on this specific item was done as part of a submission to the Knight Foundation News Challenge in the early part of 2013, although the concept for the submission evolved fairly significantly from the objective listed here. Now that the current round of the New Challenge is completed, city staff should revisit this object and determine what steps are practical for implementation.

  • Within the context of the City’s Social Media Policy, the Chief Innovation Officer will explore new channels which can be used to solicit public participation in City rule-making processes.

Year 1 Outcome: See above.