Opportunities for strengthening open meetings with open data

at the Sunlight Foundation Blog: “Governments aren’t alone in thinking about how open data can help improve the open meetings process. There are an increasing number of tools governments can use to help bolster open meetings with open data. From making public records generated by meetings more easily accessible and reusable online to inviting the public to participate in the decision-making process from wherever they may be, these tools allow governments to upgrade open meetings for the opportunities and demands of the 21st Century.

Improving open meetings with open data may involve taking advantage of simple solutions already freely available online, developing new tools within government, using open-source tools, or investing in new software, but it can all help serve the same goal: bringing more information online where it’s easily accessible to the public….

It’s not just about making open meetings more accessible, either. More communities are thinking about how they can bring government to the people. Open meetings are typically held in government-designated buildings at specified times, but are those locations and times truly accessible for most of the public or for those who may be most directly impacted by what’s being discussed?

Technology presents opportunities for governments to engage with the public outside of regularly scheduled meetings. Tools like Speakup and Textizen, for example, are being used to increase public participation in the general decision-making process. A continually increasing array of toolsprovidenewways for government and the public to identify issues, share ideas, and work toward solutions, even outside of open meetings. Boston, for example, took an innovative approach to this issue with its City Hall To Go truck and other efforts, bringing government services to locations around the city rather than requiring people to come to a government building…”

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