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Posts tagged ‘Local government’

Hidden Cost Implications: What’s the impact?

Gregg Gordon, author of the book Lean Labor and blog Lean Labor Strategies, recently attended (and presented at) the Maryland Leadership Forum on April 17th.  He came back with an interesting perspective on what he observed.  Take a look at his blog titled: Government employees are making good labor decisions, they just don’t see the whole picture, and get a first hand look at some the challenges, particularly around how labor decisions now impact pension costs later.

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What is a “muniversity”?

A recent blog from former Deputy Mayor of Bloomington, IN, Maria Katrien Heslin, produced some interesting terminology that I hadn’t quite heard before.

“Muniversity” –  This is a “place” municipal employees can go to learn more about the city they work for.

“Communicity” – An online community for municipal employees to learn more about city projects, etc…

Regardless of new or old terminology, the theme she encourages other municipalities to embrace is more communication and sharing with public employees so they are empowered to serve the community better.  Read the full blog at Governing.com.

Open Data – Can citizens and government employees work together?

If you attended the ICMA (International City/County Management Association) annual conference this week, then you know citizen engagement is becoming a growing theme in local government.  Why?  Well, for one thing, with limited resources it makes sense to tap into the community when so many are willing to play a role.  And cultivating data is a great place to start.  Governments have so much data; more than they know what to do with or have the bandwidth to analyze.  The concept of open data is to provide transparency and create an environment of “open government”.  Data can hold many thought-provoking discoveries for educative purposes.  All it takes is the right people to unleash its powers.  Street Bump

Take the City of Boston for example.  They encourage their residents to take an active role in bettering their neighborhoods and community with the City of Boston Open Government site.  One really cool project they are piloting is something called “Street Bump”, created through the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.  Street Bump is an innovative app that actually counts the number of bumps you hit on your commute through your phone.  Residents are the ones collecting the data and serving it up to the Mayor’s office.  Think of how much more efficient the app is than taking complaint calls about pot holes. The city can actually proactively go out and fix the problem.

Now this brings us to the question of can citizens and government employees work together?  Employees are public servants who are paid to serve the community.  And citizens are recipients of these services, whether good or bad.  But when it comes down to it, the community is what they both care about.  So why couldn’t they work together to make it better?   The answer is, they can, and they are!  As Beth Simone Novack, founder and director of the Governance Lab, said during her keynote presentation at the ICMA 99th Annual Conference, “Local government staffs have jobs that allow them to do work that matters. Most citizens want to do things that matter too. Data availability offers them the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution”.

 Government employees are in a unique position to partner up with citizens to use data to bring solutions to real problems.  Keep your eyes open for more amazing things coming out of the move towards greater citizen engagement.

To read more about open data/open government and Beth Simone Novack’s keynote session, visit: Smart Communities and the Opportunities of Big Data