Congressman Adopts Crowdsourcing for Website Ideas

By Craig Buckler
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The White HousePoliticians are not normally known for their technical prowess, but US Congressman Mike Honda is bucking the trend and firmly believes that Web2.0 technologies can transform the relationship between citizens and government.

He recently called for new legislation to make all non-personal data publicly available; including information held by the police, health services, social services and government departments. Ultimately, government officials would be required to provide open access to all data unless they can justify why it should not be freely available to the taxpayers who paid for its creation. He states:

In our web 2.0 world, we can empower the public by providing them with raw data that they can remix and reuse in new and innovative ways. With these tools, the public can collaborate on projects that can help legislators to create better policies to address the pressing challenges facing our nation.

Honda presumes that if someone has asked for public information, they should be given what they want: it is probably a sign that they understand the value of the data when perhaps the Government officials do not.

Honda regards Government 2.0 to be an achievable goal and has started with a comprehensive redesign of his website. His primary objective is to develop new ways of collaborating with constituents and he is soliciting ideas from the web development community using social networking tools. The most innovative ideas will be shared amongst all Members of Congress.

Your suggestions can be proposed using:

The full announcement can be viewed at O’Reilly’s Radar and The Hill’s Congress Blog.

Do you have a revolutionary idea that could improve Government communication and data accessibility? What technologies would you recommend? Do you consider this to be the beginning of a more open and accountable administration?

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  • Congressman Mike Honda’s crowdsourcing is interesting, but it seems to be pretty early-stage.

    There is a really strong campaign going on in Ireland to harness people’s ideas for economic growth. The Ideas Campaign has been up and running for just over a week and it already has thousands of ideas.

    You can see sample ideas on the site. The campaign will go on collecting ideas for the month of March, then hand them over to an Advisory Group that includes a wide range of expertise, including Riverdance founder Moya Doherty.

    This group will distil the ideas into an action plan for government. and the Taoiseach (prime minister) has already agreed to accept and fast-track the action plan.

    Check out the Ideas Campaign for economic growth in Ireland.

    Declaration of Interest: My company AMAS is supporting and modestly funding the Ideas Campaign.

  • binarysys

    I have a revolutionary idea, maybe they can read a bill before they sign it?

    They should be posting anything that is voted on the internet. They should post who wrote it, what it is and the time frame between receiving a bill and when it was voted on. They could get super high tech and do a little math calculation that says you would have to read “x” amount of pages per hour to read this document before the vote.

    Even if the federal side of the government can’t get their act together it should be done at a state level.

    How hard is this to accomplish technically? Not hard at all. We should build an open source app for them to use and give it to them. Really they could use wordpress for this.

    I won’t hold my breathe though they need to learn to read first/