Gov 2.0 Events :  Gov 2.0 Expo  •  Gov 2.0 Summit

Open City/Open 311

Moderated by: Jennifer Pahlka
Open Data and Web Services
Location: Room 207 A

If the states are the laboratories of democracy, then cities may be the field studies. Cities currently provide one of the most fertile grounds for implementing Tim O’Reilly’s vision of government as a platform, at a scale that allows for direct citizen involvement, real-time feedback, and genuine collaboration. This panel looks at some key developments in cities happening right now, with a focus on the creative tensions between innovation and standards, and how standards can drive innovation.

The most active platform for innovation in cities right now is 311 systems. When the call center offers a web interface, and especially when the web interface leverages an open standard, issue tracking moves from a one-to-one process to an opportunity to effectively crowdsource and prioritize citizen concerns, to get citizens and government collaborating, and to enable transparency and accountability. Perhaps even more significantly, an open standard allows for applications that work across cities and agencies and enables an ecosystem of governmental, non-profit, and commercial players who can continually enrich the ways in which citizens interact with government and discover new uses for the data. This panel will ask: What’s the vision for this new “Open City”? What does it look like from the perspective of government, from the citizen, and from the developer ecosystem? What roles need to be revised or reconstructed to make this vision a reality? How are our panelists’ and others’ efforts contributing to that vision? What are some of the expected and emergent outcomes of this model? What is the role of communications, both to citizens and to other entities? What are the practical considerations of collaboration among cities and other agencies? What role to third parties play? And what lessons can we apply to other levels of government?

Photo of Jennifer Pahlka

Jennifer Pahlka

Code for America

Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for
America, which is dedicated to the idea that government can work for
the people, by the people, in the 21st century. She is an Ashoka
fellow, and received the Internet and Society Award from the Oxford
Internet Institute in 2012. Government Technology named her one of
2011’s Doers, Dreamers and Drivers in Public Sector Innovation and the
Huffington Post named her the top Game Changer in Business and
Technology the same year. She is known for her TED talk, Coding a
Better Government, and is a frequent speaker. Previously, she ran the
Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 events for TechWeb, in conjunction with O’Reilly
Media, and co-chaired the successful Web 2.0 Expo. She is a graduate
of Yale University and lives in Oakland, Calif. with her daughter and
eight chickens.

Photo of Nigel Jacob

Nigel Jacob

Boston City Hall

Nigel Jacob is in a state of motion. A native of Ontario, Canada, Nigel has lived in Boston since 2001. During this time he has undergone a steady evolution from his beginnings as a software-engineer to a graduate student (Tufts University, PhD)to, currently, the co-Director of the City of Boston’s innovation office, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics. Nigel believes that the confluence of the behavioral-economics of computing, the modern social-entrepreneurship movement and the nature and need of modern cities are forming a perfect-storm to create innovative, new social-structures and opportunities for development. Currently, Nigel is working on delivering transformative services to Boston’s residents via the development of sustainable models of innovation for Cities.

Photo of Philip Ashlock

Philip Ashlock, General Services Administration

Phil helps create digital civic infrastructure to support civic engagement and open government. He’s spearheaded community-driven civic technology initiatives with global reach like the Open311 standard for interacting with government through an open feedback channel. He is currently the Chief Architect at where he leads an open development process and helps implement a federated architecture to support open data and APIs across government. Previously, he served as a Presidential Innovation Fellow working with the GSA and the White House Office of Digital Strategy on Project MyUSA.

Photo of Ben Berkowitz

Ben Berkowitz


Ben Berkowitz is the cofounder and CEO of SeeClickFix, a company born out of Ben’s frustration with traditional civic communication methods with local government. Through SeeClickFix, Ben has been able to set a precedent of transparency and public feedback in the local service request process. Nearly three million block-level neighborhood issues have been resolved on SeeClickFix, and both the platform and Ben’s leadership in civic tech have served as examples of web technology shaping the future of civics.

Photo of Bryan Sivak

Bryan Sivak

Government of the District of Columbia

Bryan Sivak was appointed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty on October 13, 2009 to the Cabinet post of Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the District of Columbia. As CTO, Sivak leads the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO), an organization of more than 500 staff that provides technology services and leadership for 86 agencies, 38,000 employees, residents, businesses and millions of visitors.

Sivak has over 15 years of experience in building software and internet technologies and organizations. In 2002, he founded and developed InQuira, Inc., a multi-national technology solutions company whose products are used at top private and public sector organizations including Bank of America, UK Ministry of Defence, Nokia and T-Mobile. During his tenure, he oversaw every aspect of the business from design and development of the product to sales, marketing and management activities relating to the overall execution of InQuira’s business plan and growth of the company. In 2005, he moved to London and opened the European office of the company, which he grew from zero to 30% of the company’s revenue in four years.

Prior to his work with InQira, Sivak founded Electric Knowledge LLC, which provided the world’s first Natural Language Search engine available on the web. The company’s customers included Bank of America and Fidelity Investments and several others. Electric Knowledge eventually merged with Answerfriend, which was the basis for the formation of InQuira.

Sivak holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Chicago.

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