Data, Dayton and developing our City 2.0

by David Esrati on September 21, 2009

in big ideas for Dayton OH, Dayton Government, Social Media as a change agent

When I first ran for Mayor, I talked about an ombudsman who would enter all complaints into a central database and then we’d evaluate how well we closed the issues. Each and every week.

Now, with the internet, mobile apps, and all kinds of social media, we can develop a web enabled system of tracking and prioritizing our issues.

I’m not the only one thinking about this, but, while so many of our other politicians are still talking about “economic development” and “land banking” I want to be talking about how we build the city of the future- and that doesn’t just mean faster internet pipes or wi-fi. From the site DIYCITY.org

Our cities today are relics from a time before the Internet. Services and infrastructure, created and operated by the government, are centrally managed, non-participatory and closed. And while this was once the best (and only) way for cities to operate, today it leads to a system that is inefficient, increasingly expensive to maintain, and slow to change.

What is needed right now is a new type of city: a city that is like the Internet in its openness, participation, distributed nature and rapid, organic evolution – a city that is not centrally operated, but that is created, operated and improved upon by all – a DIY City.

This is the DIYcity Challenge: can we, working together, define and build a version 1.0 of the Do-It-Yourself City, a city that operates on open data flowing through decentralized, open source tools, that actively engages residents not only as users but as participants and owners of the system?

Can we build this not only for our own individual cities, but for cities everywhere? Can we build an open toolset that any city, anywhere in the world, can access, modify to suit their needs, and deploy on their own terms?

via DIYcity.

And then take a look at the application CitySourced- and it’s overly long video Sorry about the autoplay:

CitySourced claims:

CitySourced is a real time mobile civic engagement tool. CitySourced provides a free, simple, and intuitive tool empowering citizens to identify civil issues (potholes, graffiti, trash, snow removal, etc.) and report them to city hall for quick resolution; an opportunity for government to use technology to save money and improve accountability to those they govern; and a positive, collaborative platform for real action. Our platform is called CitySourced, as it empowers everyday citizens to use their smart phones to make their cities a better place. CitySourced is powered by FreedomSpeaks, the leader in interactive civic engagement.

Hmmm, makes our old priority board system seem antiquated and overly complicated, doesn’t it.

If we’re looking to say Dayton is changing, and leading the way to creating Dayton 2.o with things like www.bcycle.com and tools like this, we may actually start seeing some people believe in Dayton and move here.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

truddick September 21, 2009 at 3:18 pm

I’m somewhat of the opposite opinion. I do not want a DIY city–or state, or nation.

My complaint is that, too often today, we do have DIY regarding government. Do our elected officials study the needs of society and work to enact fair and adequate tax rates to provide for them? No, they blather about how taxes ruin economic development (a fact disproven by the way that the economy improved after recent tax increases) and then require voters to raise their own taxes via referenda–a costly process since elections aren’t cheap, and an abdication of elected officials’ job duties.

Do these elected officials hire enough law enforcement (not only cops on the beat, but meat inspectors, environmental protectors, bank regulators) to protect us from the dishonest greed-merchants? No, they encourage us to form neighborhood watches, to ensure that our meat and eggs are overcooked, to monitor our own homes for hazardous gas, and to watch our own investments. The cash they save from under-funding enforcement then gets used to bail out the banks.

Seems to me that one big part of our problems is that everyone is in everyone else’s business. Want education? By no means ask educators what’s needed (and by that I mean teachers, not researchers, school administrators, school boards, the Fordham Foundation, or a politician who doesn’t really reside in Kettering). Need law enforcement? Never ask the police how it might be done. Want effective tax policy? Elected representatives can’t be trusted to do it.

Society benefits from expertise and specialization. Ask any union plumber or electrician to tell you some stories about DIY sometime; then re-think this innovation and realize that the important syllable is “NO”.

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Matt September 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm

“CitySourced provides a free, simple, and intuitive tool empowering citizens to identify civil issues (potholes, graffiti, trash, snow removal, etc.) and report them to city hall for quick resolution;”

I think the ability to update, contribute to, and access information like that in the quote above is a great idea.

I think the city of Dayton’s communication has gotten alot better but alot of it is only one direction… from tweets, periodic facebook posts, static webpages, etc. Having something interactive would be great. The city has much improved access to forms, etc. online but there isn’t really any place for citizens to contribute to the efforts of making the city run. As a matter of fact, with the revamp of the website (a while ago) most emails and contact names in department were stripped from site. What kind of customer service is that!?!

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David Esrati September 21, 2009 at 3:44 pm

@truddick

I agree- the city shouldn’t demand the citizens pick up trash with alley sweeps- we have trash collectors for that. I also agree we shouldn’t have to do neighborhood watches- but, the reality is, we do. It isn’t going to change anytime soon – unless we change it.

Technology can help. So can thinking of different ways to do things- that’s why I’m running. At least, lets have the discussion.

@Matt- I could tell you stories about how screwed up the public website is- and have. Needless to say- scanning a doc and making a pdf isn’t making an ADA compliant PDF. I’ve talked about this before.

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Gene September 21, 2009 at 3:49 pm

What is the cost?

DIY – it is reporting stuff, hardly a DIY thing. The big complaint would come from poor people who do not have access to such technology. I can hear it now…….. “The rich are keeping the poor down..!!”

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Matt September 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm

We also run the risk of people bogging down a public site like they do with stupid comments at the DDN!

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Larkin September 21, 2009 at 5:59 pm

David,  David, David. 
 
Who do you think is going to elect you? Other people like yourself? I’m interested in this process and yet my eyes glaze over when I start to read this stuff. 
 
What kind of plans do you have to make life (and city services) more streamlined for:
-the elderly?
-the homeless?
-the uneducated?
-the infirm?
- the uninitiated to online services?
-those without a computer?
-those people who don’t know where they’re going to find their next five dollars for a few gallons of gas, or a few gallons of milk, or a few ccs of insulin?
-those who live in fear of city services shutting off their water, taking away their trash can?
- those who live in fear of their neighbors?
-the illiterate?
 
 
If you rely on the yuppies to elect you, I’m afraid you will be sorely disappointed again.
 
 
 
 

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Brilliant September 21, 2009 at 7:42 pm

@Larkin, you think what you listed applies to the majority of those who live in the COD? If so, Forbes is right, COD is doomed.

What would you suggest David do to get those you listed to vote for him?

Promise the elderly free health care and a monthly check, the homeless – food and shelter, the uneducated – free education, the infirm – free health care, the computerless and online services – free laptop to all w/free classes to teach them how to use it, free gas for all, free medication and a cow for all, how about lets just call it a Nanny City and we take care and provide for everyone at the expense of those who are providers.

Why does someone running for office have to cater to those who provide little if anything to the whole? Thats how we got into this mess.

David has some good ideas, the sad part is, people will overlook him because he is willing to step outside the box and express his progressive ideas. I hope people realize that the norm is what got the COD in the condition it is in. Its time for someone to break this cycle that continues repeating itself.

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Larkin September 21, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Brilliant, I know David outside of this forum. I have helped him from time to time. My concern that his focus on voters is too narrow is a genuine one. Those voters want to know that their Commissioner at least cares about the challenges they face everyday. I don’t see how David’s plan 2.0 even begins to address that, and that worries me. 
 
 

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Gene September 22, 2009 at 12:17 am

But what can you do for these people.? Often, what you are talking about, is handled at a federal/state/county level. Yes, things here and there, but their job is to…….(Dayton CC)…. well, not do much.

I hate the “improving services” bull crap. What does that mean? No one cares. The services in Dayton are good, and putting a lot of effort into them is like adding more chicken crap to the chicken salad. We need jobs. We need people to stop having kids. Money is good and small bills (no kids) is even better.

Elderly ? You mean poor elderly, which means poor people, which means something different than a CC job. Uneducated? Hey, Dayton thrives in that area. Stop trying to take away the number one resource we have, the uneducated. If we ever go to a really big war we can sucker these young men and woman to go dig the ditches in the dessert, why do we want to get rid of them. Detroit is a good place for them, though.

COD is a waste….. of…….

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David Esrati September 22, 2009 at 6:36 am

@larkin

This is just one component of the plan. This is nothing more than a customer service solution using modern technology. Do you suggest we go back to Morse code and the telegraph. People can still call the city and talk to someone- who will then enter it into the system.

Running a city is about providing services. Before we get into all those disadvantaged citizen issues, we still have to provide the basic services better. This is one step toward that. It won’t cost more- in fact, it will cost less in the long run, since we may be able to solve some smaller problems before they get big.

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Larkin September 22, 2009 at 9:39 am

David, no need to be sarcastic with me, I’m in your camp. I’ve had a lot of business with the City of Dayton services. Hell, I know their telephone number off by heart. And I have to say that they do a pretty decent job of recycle pickup (only occasionally do you have to nag) snow removal (except for last year’s budget cuts) and dealing with some woman who called every single day to see if they’d picked up the body of her lost dog. (They were also Johnny on the Spot when I called them about somebody’s poor kitty that had been hit by a car.) You’re the one that presented this as your “plan” for Dayton.  If this is only “a part” of that, then you need to more clearly identify it as such. I know that when i mentioned fundraising, and the potential to encourage some of your clients into helping you, you said you were too busy to ask them– David, if you’re too busy because you’re spending your time writing this kind of stuff, then you need to re-order your priorities. Finally, most people only absorb a candidate’s philosophy in soundbites, and at the municipal level, even less so. Let’s get you elected, my friend, you can work on your vision later.
 

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Ben Berkowitz December 19, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Hey Guys,
You already have this in Dayton it just has not been publicized yet.
The list below shows all the people that are receiving alerts on issues reported on SeeClickFix
City Council helped us set up those watch areas.
http://seeclickfix.com/watchers/list?place_id=17317
You can report with the SeeClickFix iPhone app on the web or mobile web or you can even call the phone number: 877.853.1552
 
Have fun.

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