Recently, Beth Noveck, founder and director of the GovLab, outlined her vision for collaborative governance in an interview with Joel Gurin, who has now joined the GovLab as a senior advisor. Joel is the author of an upcoming book on Open Data, which he writes about at OpenDataNow.com. The interview focuses on new ways of governing that uses the knowledge and energy of experts and ordinary citizens in partnership with government.
“The GovLab is about Open Governance – and that’s a concept that depends heavily on Open Data. Sharing data with the public or experts, and becoming open to their input in return, is the essence of making government and institutions more collaborative. . . . ”
“We’re starting to see a new model of citizen engagement around data,” Beth says. “Data by itself, even when it’s made available and downloadable online, doesn’t solve any problems. It’s when people engage with that data . . . that’s where data becomes meaningful.”
Beth sees great potential in hackathons, those one- or two-day events that bring developers together to build creative new apps with Open Data. “The hackathon,” she says, “is the first next step in opening up a world of participatory and collaborative democratic engagement.” She now thinks that hackers will come up with much better solutions when they work with policymakers who can put their ideas to use. . . .
“This intersection between Open Data and collaboration not only makes the data useful, it creates a new model of how citizens can engage with government,” says Beth. “And I think that that collaboration begins to build a stronger, more robust democratic culture. When you get people engaged with the data, developing real solutions, that’s when we have the hope of leading to real change and improving people’s quality of life.”