Back to Participation 3.0
A model open and transparent "Participation 3.0" effort to create an open standard for distributing public meeting notices, agendas, documents, etc. across the Web 2.0 world.
Imagine services across the Internet where the public can enter their address and keyword interests and be pro-actively notified online about public meetings and agenda items that matter to them from ALL the government bodies that serve/represent/govern them.
We envision an eventual PublicMeetings.Info network which would aggregate and broadly share a new public meeting data set.
This project will test our open source-style design process designed to bring together democracy/participation experts, government staff/interest elected officials, and technologists/geeks in a group process that leads to the most effective results that actually serves the greatest public good with a sustainable "move the field" design as an end goal. This process is a possible model for our evolving Next Generation Ideas open specification process.
Project elements include:
1. Open design process - Public meeting notice and agenda requirements and open standard draft
We are engaging the W3C E-Government Interest Group (initial pre-project engagement) via the eCitizen Foundation and others to craft a draft standard on public meeting notices and agendas. It will promote a long-term, distributed solution to help governments and government-oriented technology vendors automate the process of providing public data sets with real-time public meeting information. This is likely the best path to universal distribution of this option to many local communities over the long-run.
- Get involved now
2. Local prototype and data scraping initiative
Quickly demonstrate the power of a geo-aware tool for personalized alerts about upcoming public meetings from the dozens of public bodies that serve Minneapolis (and perhaps St. Paul). This inform and seek to utilize the open standard draft but in this case the data will be "scraped" by us and converted into XML before being used by our site. We are inspired in part by the new UK-based OpenlyLocal.com open source-oriented site which is scraping and gathering data on the far more centralized local UK governments.
3. Public meeting comments and ratings experiment
Depending up the resources available, we will explore hosting specific public comments/questions/requests for more information and rating of comments/questions/requests to determine those agenda-items with expressed community support, opposition or simple concern. A comment summary/tracking tool for local elected/appointed officials and staff would notify decision-makers on recent comments prior to meetings (comments would be allowed within an hour of when the government body releases the agenda and it is pulled into our system automatically). We will further connect awareness of new meetings/agenda and public comments directly into the 1,000+ participant online town hall Minneapolis Issues Forum.
Resources and Related Links
- Rhode Island Open Meeting - State law requires that all government public meetings notices and agenda be shared through a uniform system online. This includes roughly 600 state bodies/sub-bodies and 1500 local government entities. Minutes are also required to be uploaded for executive branch decision-making bodies. Web feed and e-mail notification options are available. The service is very popular.
- City of Arcata, California started to accept comments on public meeting agenda items.
- ElmCity - Jon Udell's web service to collects online calendar events for geographic or topical communities.
As this pilot initiative is launched, we decided to submit it's full implementation into the Knight News Challenge. The idea made it to round two and requires additional questions to be answered by mid-January, 2010. If you would like to either help execute this outline or help us draft our Knight News Challenge Public Meetings Submission, join our new Public Meetings online technical working group.