Winter Blog: Beyond Transparency, a Book Recommendation

Settling in with a good book during the Colorado winter, about open data and governments, isn’t exactly what we do all the time around Slate; but we took the time recently and survived to tell you about it! 

Really, it wasn’t that hard. If you believe in open government, access to data, proactive communication, and easy to read and understand reports, you might really enjoy Beyond Transparency, Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation, edited by Brett Goldstein and Lauren Dyson, and published in 2013.

With twenty-two chapters serving as case studies for opening government data to the public, it’s difficult to imagine a citizen or public servant not wanting to live in the kinds of communities where this is the norm. Each case study dives deep into a community issue that is broken apart and resolved through access to information such as street sweeping data, school performance, public transit data, government procurement, crime data and lots more.

Sure, these industry experts and community leaders worried about the media and tech hackers taking this information and corrupting it. Beyond Transparency makes the case that rather than turning our backs on releasing data, community leaders need to be information trailblazers to make their communities more safe, more enjoyable to live in, and allows citizens to be more connected to one another.

One case study features best practices for communicating municipal performance results with their public. Only a small percentage of cities, of various sizes, publish their performance strategies and results online. By posting the measures and outcomes, these city leaders are better able to track data and look for opportunities for streamlining processes, it holds them accountable for policies and procedures, and it makes for better-informed citizens. That’s transparency – and leads to engaged citizens who support their local government, especially around funding requests.

As geeky as it sounds, we love big data. Slate has been translating data and making it digestible and interesting to communities for nearly ten years. Give us a call if you want your next community report, economic report or program review to stand out in the crowd and be understood by your residents. We’ll even send you samples of our work to see how the conditions of streets, the number of patents awarded in your city, or trail miles maintained can be great reading!

Claire BouchardComment