Oakland pulls ahead of SF in the Bay Bridge Open Government Series

OaklandIt hasn’t garnered the accolades San Francisco historically has, but it appears Oakland is starting to pull ahead in the Bay Bridge Open Government Series.

The active OpenOakland team, with its weekly meetup, first CivicMeet Oakland, community-driven open data platform, CityCamp Oakland, Oakland Wiki and upcoming Open Data Day Oakland hackathon, is quickly becoming the civic hacker model for all other metropolitan areas.

The city is also showing signs of open government adoption, including its willingness to collaborate with OpenOakland, launching a new official open data portal and hosting Code for America fellows this year.

While San Francisco has adopted some of the above, with the exception of the CfA fellows program, much of its open government achievements were accomplished during the Gavin Newsom years. And, surprisingly, an organized civic hacker community has yet to emerge.

In recognition of OpenOakland’s work, Oakland’s city council recently passed the following resolution:


WHEREAS, Open Data represents the idea that information such as government databases should be easily and freely available to everyone to use and republish without restrictions; and

WHEREAS, Open Data increases transparency, access to public information, and improves coordination and efficiencies among agencies and partner organizations; and

WHEREAS, access to public information promotes a higher level of civic engagement and allows citizens to provide valuable feedback to government officials regarding local issues; and

WHEREAS, this month Oakland has formally announced the launch of its open data platform “data.oaklandnet.com,” that will serve as the central repository of the City of Oakland’s public data, such as data on crime, public works, public facilities, and spatial data, allowing all users to freely access, visualize and download City data, enabling public scrutiny and empowering the creativity of civic-minded software developers; and

WHEREAS, Oakland was honored to be selected as one of only ten cities in America to participate in the 2013 Code for America (CFA) program, where three CFA fellows will work with the City to identify web-based solutions to break down cumbersome bureaucratic processes and emerge with better systems that will help cut costs, increase efficiency, and provide better service to the public; and

WHEREAS, Open Data activists have recently founded the civic innovation organization Open Oakland – a Code for America Brigade, which meets every Tuesday evening in City Hall, bringing together coders, designers, “data geeks,” journalists, and city staff to collaborate on solutions to improve Oakland’s service delivery to all citizens of Oakland; and

WHEREAS, on December 1, 2012 Open Oakland produced the first ever “CityCamp Oakland,” inside city hall, where over 100 stakeholders came together to discuss solutions to improve Oakland; and

WHEREAS, Oakland recently launched a community engagement web site called
“EngageOakland.com,” to encourage community ideas, feedback and suggestions to help shape, grow and sustain the healthy future of Oakland; and

WHEREAS, “February 23, 2013 is International Data Day,” a day in which citizens around the world will gather to access Open Data, write applications, create visualizations, publish analyses, and encourage the adoption of open data policies at the local, regional and national government levels; and


WHEREAS, on February 23, 2013 at Oakland’s 81st Avenue Branch Library, Open Oakland, in honor of International Open Data Day, will host a day of “hacking” public data and building data visualization tools to help explain data and make stronger community-government connections; therefore be it

RESOLVED: That the City Council hereby declares February 23, 2013 as Open Data Day in the City of Oakland; and be it

FURTHER RESOLVED: That in honor of International Open Data Day the City Council hereby recognizes and salutes Open Oakland founders Steve Spiker and Eddie Tejada; Oakland’s 2013 Code For America Fellows Richa Agarwal, Cris Cristina and Sheila Dugan, and Oakland’s Code for America sponsors: The Akonadi Foundation, The William H. Donner Foundation, The Robert A.D. Schwartz Fund, The Mitchell Kapor Foundation, Accela and Pandora, for their service to the City of Oakland and its citizens.

Luke Fretwell is the founder of the civic innovation and technology blog GovFresh. He advises civic leaders and businesses on how to best leverage digital strategies to create more effective, collaborative governments. He has written about government IT for Federal Computer Week, NextGov, FedScoop, StateScoop and FierceGovernment, and has been referenced by the Washington Post and Fast Company on civic technology issues. He has worked with a number of government-focused companies and media, including CivicActions, NuCivic and FedScoop and has been involved in broad-focused community efforts, such as GovPress, CityCamp, CivicMeet, Agile Government Leadership and Open Source for America. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.


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