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Recap of Transparency Camp 2016 in Cleveland! by Will and Anastasia

25 October 2016

Transparency Camp, the national conference on government transparency, open data, and civic technology, hosted by the Sunlight Foundation at the Cleveland Public Library was on October 14-15th. Over 100 attendees from across the country and around the world shared their best practices and experiences on using open data, civic technology, and government transparency to improve government, particularly on state and local issues. TCamp and its topic-focused sessions provided discussing, generating ideas, spontaneous collaboration, and planting the seeds of these ideas into actions within our communities.

As Bill Hunt from Sunlight exhorted, we’re writing down and and sharing it!

Here’s what emerged in Cleveland:

The Closed Public Square Cost Calculator

A few of the Open Cleveland brigaders have been thinking about how to demonstrate the negative effects of closing the portion of Superior Ave through Public Square to bus traffic since its reopening in July. The closing delays buses, wasting fuel and time, even though RTA buses were planned to exclusively use this road.

The Cost Calculator displays the cost of the closing.

Open Traffic Counting

This project started as a TCAMP session exploring how data collected through an open-source traffic counter (courtesy of http://tomorrow-lab.com/product23 ) could be used to advocate for slower streets. After addressing a few issues in the software, they were able to get a working model up and running at Transparency Camp. Now the group has turned its focus to deploying these counters across Cleveland.

Currently, they’re running experiments to validate and fine-tune vehicle counting and speed detection. Next, they hope to add estimation of vehicle types (cars, semis, pedestrians) to the codebase and create a user guide to help less tech-savvy people assemble counters, and upload their data to a public repository.

Eventually, the group hopes to make ready-to-use counters available through local libraries and community organizations, and install a number of permanent counters which can automatically collect and submit data.

If you’re interested in helping or looking for more information, contact Josh Kruszynski or John McGovern.

Improve the transparency of Cleveland City Council:

A working group of City of Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins and residnets are aking sure that the information about City Council meetings and activities of city councilmembers is available to the public in a timely manner. This group was created inside a session at TCAMP.

This session’s notes are available (here)https://docs.google.com/document/d/1AAlBrzr5XcK5ijwp6VRc3wAFHhugzOIhU6l01AuNQNM/edit

This working group will meet next during our next meeting/hack night on Thursday, Nov. 3rd.

For notes on other sessions, check out the Tcamp Schedule and click on the specific sessions for the notes. Also, TCAMP Photos are here from Day One and Day Two

Besides these initiatives, there were the intangible impact and lessons:

** Relationships built among us and fellow attendees across different sectors across the country;

** Practices on how to sustain our brigades and local civic tech ecosystems/scenes

** Knowledge and skill sharing among attendees in and out of the sessions

** Awareness of our organization and efforts among the greater community

** Awareness of what we need to do better (reach more people out even further in advance; continue to build stronger relationships with the greater community: government employees, residents, and more)

Thank you to:

Sunlight Foundation

all sponsors (The Cleveland Foundation, Leandog, Socrata, Microsoft, the Beekeeper Group, and Amazon Web Services),

our community partners (the Cleveland Public Library, Hack Cleveland, Open NEO, Cleveland Global Shapers)

Councilman Brian Cummins and his staff assistant Taylor Henschel

All Attendees and anyone else who helped make TCAMP a success

As Will Tarter, TCAMP participant, said (he was not the first to say, nor the last), (in the Cleveland Civic Tech, open data, open govt scene(s)), the best is yet to come.

  • Will Skora & Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz, Open Cleveland Co-Captains

Opening the City Council Records by Will Skora

17 March 2016

Open Cleveland is excited to announce that we have been named the winner in OneCommunity’s Data Curation Challenge!

Our project, drocer, is creating a searchable archive of The City Record, a weekly digest of Cleveland City Council’s activities including proposals and votes of legislation, bid announcements for city contracts, Public Notices, Board of Zoning Appeals, known as the City Record.

It is currently only published a PDF makes it impossible to search across multiple digests and very difficult to analyze the text.

An overview of drocer is available at: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1bWo-yJD3pR07EaR75p-ksKdHUyiPcyAmGf3h7L9i4Ps/edit#slide=id.p

In recent months, we’ve met with community partners including the Cleveland Public Library, the City Council’s Clerk of Courts, and the City’s Law Department to understand what it will take to bring this tool to the greatest number of Clevelanders, what additional features are needed in a website and how they can get involved, to enable Clevelanders to better engage with their city government and learning about their City Council.

For more tech saavy and curious readers interested in analyzing the raw plain text that we’ve extracted from PDFs, you can view the plain text as well as our code to parse and structurethe raw plain text (still in its infancy) at https://github.com/opencleveland/drocer

Our first step, extracting the raw text from the PDFs is completed!

Next steps include: parsing and structuring the data so that it can be useful to continuing to meet with community partners to

We’ve only started and the best is yet to come.

Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz, Will Skora, Co-Captains, Eamon Johnson and Meaghan Fenelon Drocer contributors and the rest of the Open Cleveland Brigade.

February / March 2015 update by Paul Koepke

11 March 2015

Getting Stated In Cleveland

Since this is our first blog post, I’ll do a little history. Open Cleveland was founded in October 2014 with the goal of encouraging open data and helping local governments in Northeast Ohio better serve their residents through technology. We are a Code for America brigade.

It’s been a busy few months since we started up. We’ve been organizing our meetings and events on Meetup. We got our website up and running. We completed an Open Data Census for Cleveland to track how open the City’s data is. We got set up on GitHub and started on a few projects, inculding the Large Lots project

Large Lots is probably our most exciting project at the moment, as it’s seeing the most progress. Large Lots (which will probably get a new name before it goes live) is a website which will help the city of Cleveland Land Bank Program display its parcels for sale and accept applications. It is based on Chicago’s Large Lots website.

On February 20-21 we held Code Across Cleveland as part of Code for America’s Code Across America event. On Friday we held an Open Data Open House at City Hall where city employees could meet some of our members and learn about open data. On Saturday we held a Code Across Cleveland meeting where we introduced new people to open data and our ongoing projects.

We always welcome new members and new ideas. Technical knowledge is not necessary – some of our biggest needs are nontechnical. Join us and help us help governments better serve their residents!