I was invited to be a Panelist at the LBJ Policy School
It felt ironic that I was sitting in front of a room full of University of Texas Masters Students at the LBJ Policy School telling them about my experience with Open Austin as the Hack Team Lead. This is because I had been rejected from that very Masters program when I applied four years ago.
Isn’t it funny when our life’s trajectory feels right on target despite that humility?
Well, I really was honored and delighted to speak alongside three towering veterans of the Open Data Movement in Austin. Chip Rosenthal has been the citizen’s voice for open governance and civic hacking since 2009 as the chair of Open Austin. Matt Esquibel manages the Web Services group for the City of Austin and has been champion of a more open, innovative and collaborative environment on city staff. Sherri Greenberg served for 10 years as a member of the Texas House of Representatives and now teaches and researches about how governments can use technology to improve transparency.
And me? Haha, I just show up to Civic Hack Nights and try not to sound dumb.
We had a really energetic discussion about how the City of Austin has evolved through partnerships with civic organizations, like Open Austin, to become more accepting of open data policies. We talked about the limitations of these policies and the risks involved when opening up datasets to the public or in relying entirely on open source software vs enterprise solutions. We also talked about how the value of this data may never been proven unless developers and analysts have access to it so they can bring Proof of Concept (PoC) apps like PetAlerts and Metrorappid to the table. It’s awesome when we see hacks, apps, and tangible products leads to a reevaluation of the data the city keeps.
Summarizing a nice point made by Mr. Esquibel:
Open Government started with the goal of Transparency. Then the potential for Innovation was realized. But Innovation requires Standards & Quality. And that is what the City is working on now.