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[Go to the CityCamp home page]


CityCamp is an unconference dedicated to practicing Gov 2.0 at the local level.



The first CityCamp was hosted by The Rockefeller Foundation

The first CityCamp was held January 23-24, 2010 in Chicago, IL at the University of Illinois Chicago Innovation Center.






  1. Bring together local government officials, municipal employees, coders, designers, and journalists to share perspectives and insights
  2. Establish patterns that cities can use to add value to citizens' lives using the Web as a platform 

CityCamp explores and documents ideas, lessons learned, best practices, and patterns related to use of social/participatory media, linked open data, and "Web as platform" at the local level.

A core value of CityCamp is that local data - events, actions, activities, alerts, transportation, repairs, budget income, expenses, and other key indicators - have the most direct influence and impact on our daily lives.

Other goals are set by participants.  Because CityCamp is an unconference, the participants will decide the "tracks," topics, and sessions. 

Desired outcomes include, for examples:

  • Improved local communications
  • Improved local orientation and navigation
  • Enhanced public safety
  • Lower IT costs
  • Simpler connections between citizens & communities and local government
  • Fostered economic development
  • Increased civic participation at the local level 

CityCamp emerged from Transparency Camp and Gov 2.0 Camp.

Following is a G-Doc that was drafted at TCamp 09 West:


Related past unconferences of interest to leverage include Talk About Local Unconference (UK), Minnesota Voices Unconference (rural local communities), Open311 DevCamp, and Participation Camp.

Social Networks

Twitter: @CityCamp - Official hashtag #citycamp

E-mail List: http://forums.e-democracy.org/groups/citycamp

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=130953577981

GovLoop: http://www.govloop.com/group/citycamp

Delicious: http://delicious.com/tag/CityCamp

Major E-mail Updates: http://eepurl.com/d6Ta 


Some structure/guidelines/ideas for "tracks" and sessions include:

  • Transit
  • Public Works
  • GIS
  • Schools System
  • Events


Proposed Tracks 


Lightning Talks 


An app we can trust: Lessons from Katrina Denice Ross, Greater New Orleans Community Data Center An evidence-based approach to building credibility -- and usability -- into apps, with examples from New Orleans.
Transparency via API access to data Keith Hurwitz, Microsoft There is no transparecy without apps!  Publishing data for access via an API removes critical barriers to creating apps and visualizations.
Participation 3.0 Steven Clift, E-Democracy.org Seeking big ideas for the next generation of local online civic engagement. Overview of a Ford Foundation funded project for 2010 - http://e-democracy.org/p3
Be Neighborly Steven Clift, E-Democracy.org Dynamically connecting people to their nearest neighbors online for community building, crime prevention, and everyday goodness.
Mashing Up Virginia Beach Crime Data with Google Docs  Kevin Curry  Crime data in our city is published through a tedious, esoteric form that leads only to (ugly) HTML tables of exactly 15 records per page.  I found a programmer at my local paper who was scraping that data into a database.  He agreed to publish the data through a Web API so that we could demonstrate more value (and more interesting newspaper stories) from the data.  In this presentation I show how easy it is to get that data into Google Docs to create aggregate charts.



iPublic data feeds Dan Thomas, Moderator

The processes and technology to publish civic data to the Internet is unknown and cost-prohibitive to many municipal governments. 

Analysts, library scientists, developers, municipal leaders and foundation representatives are invited to participate in a new community who's mission is to: a) develop government data feed technology under open source, and b) share processes and practices that promote information sharing and transparency.

Elmcity  Jon Udell, Presenter

Elmcity is a web service that aggregates events from multiple online calendars like Eventful, Upcoming, and Eventbrite and publishes them as iCalendar feeds for localities.  Calendars are tagged by curators in cities around the country world using the Delicious social bookmarking service.  iCals are aggregated and organized by locality in the Azure cloud where they are transformed and published in open, accessible formats.  This has the benefit of network effects in syndicating event information, which means more people are likely to make use of it.

For information on elmcity, please visit:




Designing the Open City Stack  Kevin Curry, Moderator  We'll bring together reps from city gov IT to talk specs, standards, and framework for data mines, APIs, and app stores. We'll explore the many data mines out there and talk about shared experiences and lessons learned from building them. We'll talk about where they go next and sketch out a design document to get there.  This may be a two-part session.
The City Forward Project John Tolva, Presenter  As part of IBM’s efforts to help build a smarter planet, City Forward will be a web-based, multi-sensory hub of insight and information that can be used by cities and their citizens to see themselves in new and powerful ways. It will be a dynamic resource that leads users of all types to discover and explore areas of particular relevance to their goals and situations.  http://cityforward.org
Code for America  Jen Pahlka, Presenter  We believe there is a wealth of talent in the web industry eager to contribute to the rebuilding of America. We witness this, for example, in the many community based efforts to open city data and the corresponding data mine efforts that have come online in major cities. Our mission is to connect Web 2.0 talent with cities that need it. Are you a proven, civic-minded hacker or designer? We want you to code for America. Are you part of a data rich, resource thin municipality that just needs to get stuff done? We invite you to share those concerns, needs, and wants. Code for America is building a program of service for vetted, skilled developers and forward-thinking cities. Let's get started.
MoveSmart.org and the Barriers to Regional Web Apps Justin Massa & Rebecca White, presenters

MoveSmart.org is a neighborhood finder and housing knowledge base desigend to connect families to diversity and opportunity. To that end, the site aggregates data from across seven counties in Chicagoland and matches housing seekers to the opportunities they need to be successful.


Unfortunately, there are a number of barriers to web apps that, like MoveSmart.org, seek to analyze and search entire regions rather than call or aggregate data surrounding a specific point. In short, municipal data sharing is fantastic but the devil is in the details. By standardizing the metadata for future regional data networks, licensing data for regional analysis, and prioritizing longitudinal, regional data over parochial priorities, municipalities and counties can build a solid base for regional web apps and empower stakeholders at all levels to make smarter decisions.


Hack-a-thon Anyone  Get together any time during the camp to work with potential data sources, APIs, and/or platforms.  Work toward concrete outcomes:  scrape a web site, create a mashup, draft a policy.  We will try to reserve space for this throughout the event.
Open Id  Don Thibeau, presenter 

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) has established a Trust Framework Adoption Process (TFAP) as a key step in enabling citizens to easily and safely engage with government websites. This framework relies on open-identity technologies like OpenID and Information Cards to allow citizens to register, login, and when necessary share personally identifiable information across different government websites and services. This collaboration is significant because:


·         The collaboration between government and industry uses an open-market approach

·         The collaboration will not duplicate private industry efforts; it will leverage them

·         It will result in fewer, not more, centralized government databases

·         Private industry is able to adopt to marketplace and technology changes more efficiently than the government

·         Private industry can deliver these services at a lower cost than the government

·         And perhaps most important, the collaboration allows citizens to choose the identity technology and identity provider with which they are most comfortable


To make open government a reality, ensure citizens privacy protection of, and secure government information, The OpenID and Information Card Foundations are developing trust frameworks in which open market forces are used. These open trust frameworks:

·         Give citizens control over where and how their personal information is used

·         Make it easier and safer for citizens to be directly involved in open government

·         Enable all involved parties to realize substantial security, privacy, and cost-savings benefits

·         Will lead to an open ecosystem for identity and trust on the Internet that can work across all applications, communities, and borders


In much the same way the Internet and Web have benefited society at large, the pursuit of open government and open trust frameworks will benefit citizens everywhere and democracy itself.

"How to Create Your own Apps for Democracy Contest" Peter Corbett, presenter

How to Run Your Own Apps for Democracy Contest: I'll present a step-by-step guide for any one to use to run their own Apps for Democracy style civic application development contest. This method will be useful for federal, state and local governments as well as non-profit and for-profit organizations. A full guide has been published here and the slides from this presentaiton are there as well.


Open Cities & The Law    What are the legal issues we encounter in our localities when we try to open city data? 
Open Cities & Journalism     
Township Transparency Steve Hanson How can Government 2.0 transparency be implemented for small towns and other small governmental bodies?  A pilot project in Wisconsin and a second-round Knight News Challenge competitor.  A network of web sites for townships in Wisconsin that will aggregate data to a central store of feeds, RDF, and other sources of mashup data for journalists and citizens to use.
"All This City Needs Is a Little Paint" - Lessons from post-Katrina New Orleans Denice Ross, Deputy Director, Greater New Orleans Community Data Center Katrina and the levee failures exposed New Orleans' long-term shortcomings in government operations, education, social equity, transportation, healthcare, environment, housing and criminal justice. One bright side of this disaster has been the remarkable levels of civic engagement that followed -- and community demand for reform of local government and better access to public information. In this rapidly changing, unprecedented post-disaster environment, the role of a neutral, trusted local data intermediary (the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center at GNOCDC.org) has been essential to help identify critical data needs and fortify the data for use in decision-making by residents, neighborhoods, nonprofits, funders, local, state and federal government. GNOCDC.org is currently working to liberate key data sets from City Hall, while pushing for systemic reform that would make sharing administrative data with the public just another part of doing business. Our approach acknowledges that we are tackling "wicked problems" that are difficult to solve with often contradictory and changing requirements and complex interdependencies. And, most importantly, because post-Katrina New Orleans has been  subjected to many well-intentioned technology projects with unintended negative consequences, we want to make sure that our interventions "do no harm." Honest assessments of what has worked -- and not worked -- in other cities such as DC and Baltimore is a key piece of this work, and the timing is ideal for New Orleans to adapt the best ideas from elsewhere to our local reality.
Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) Keith Hurwitz, Microsoft The Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) is an initiative led by Microsoft Public Sector OGDI uses the Windows Azure Platformto make it easier to publish and use a wide variety of public data from government agencies. OGDI is also a free, open source ‘starter kit’ with source code on CodePlex.com (http://ogdi.codeplex.com) that can be used to publish data on the internet in a web-friendly format with easy-to-use, open API's. OGDI-based web API’s can be accessed from a variety of client technologies such as Silverlight, Flash, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, mapping web sites, etc.  See http://ogdisdk.cloudapp.net (sample implementation)

Whether you are a business wishing to use government data, a government developer, or a ‘citizen developer’, these open API's will enable you to build innovative applications, visualizations and mash-ups that empower people through access to government information. 
Freeing the data Harper Reed and Dan O'Neil Practical tips and case studies on freeing civic data and doing stuff with it in Chicago.
Mapping for Justice Mike Trakan and Chirag Patel Mapping for Justice has developed and published static and interactive maps of Chicago correlating poverty with school performance, tutoring programs, churches, hospitals, universities, etc
Universal Local Online Participation and Transparency Discussion facilitated by Steven Clift What is so important with the next generation of local online civic engagement, government transparency, public participation, and local democracy generally that it must become universal across all communities? How should we prioritize? How do we get there? Input from this session will be fed into the Ford Foundation funded project of E-Democracy.org: http://e-democracy.org/p3
What's the Best Technology to Be Neighborly? Discussion facilitated by Steven Clift The Great American Hackathon local event in Minneapolis produced the volunteer Neighborly coding project. After two dynamic meetings, the specification is taking shape and coding is getting underway for this experiment to help people connect online with their nearest neighbors in a semi-private manner based on each person comfort level. Input from this session will be fed into the round two proposal being submitted to the Knight News Challenge.
Liberating Public Meetings Online - Open Standards, Geo-Aggregation, and Public Comments on Upcoming Agenda Items Discussion facilitated by Steven Clift 

E-Democracy.org's Participation 3.0 effort includes a pilot PublicMeetings.Info effort to explore an open standard for public meeting agendas (and likely notices) as well as a quick scraping protoype which demonstrates the value of a uniform aggregated data source/service where people can be notified of public meetings near (governing) them based on agenda items (keywords) of interest. Input from this session will be fed into the round two proposal being submitted to the Knight News Challenge.

Stupid Laws to Update Proposed by Steven Clift, needs facilitator Let's create a list of law updates required to take full advantage of the Internet and social media in local democracy. In Minnesota, local government cite the current Open Meeting Laws as a reason for elected officials NOT to participate publicly online.

Five Good Reasons Why Local Governments Won't Share Data & What We Can Do About It

Proposed by Kathy Pettit, co-director of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP)

The National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) local partners have been working for 15 years to build trusting relationships with their governments and convince them to share their data.   Realizing the goal of accessible data may require overcoming technical hurdles, but the trickier challenge is to navigate the significant political and legal barriers to data sharing.   There’s five major (and understandable reasons) that local governments fear the release of data, but there are good ways to address their concerns. The NNIP network provides its members (data intermediaries in 33 cities, including Chicago, DC, New Orleans, & Minneapolis) with peer advice and practical examples about data sharing, and a parallel toolkit could be developed for local governments considering the leap into more open data.  What kinds of non-technical guides and tools are needed to reassure and support local staff and elected officials?  Some ideas are guides to federal/state laws regulating data, sample data agreements, or a collection of testimonials & stories from peer agencies or networks.  What other kinds of resources should be developed to help encourage more local governments to democratize their data?



Smart Communities: Connecting Open Government with Community Needs


Susana Vasquez, Director, New Communities Program, LISC/Chicago


Rishi Desai, Project Manager, Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation

Norma Sanders, Project Manager, Southwest Digital Planning District

Alvaro Obregon, New Communities Program Director, The Resurrection Project

Data sharing by government agencies is driving a wave of innovative applications.  But how can we ensure that these applications respond to the needs of all communities?  What digital resources do historically-underserved communities need to fully participate in the open government revolution?



In 2009, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley launched the Smart Communities program, with five neighborhoods serving as real world test beds for digital inclusion and e-participation strategies.  At this session, organizers in these neighborhoods will briefly present on their work to promote the use of technology to achieve community goals. Discussion will center on the applications that could help improve residents’ quality of life and the data that is needed to build them. Applications developed as a result of this session may become part of a “Civic 2.0” training curriculum currently under development. Civic 2.0 is a key project that aims to train community leaders to use web tools to access public services information and to advocate for community improvements.



The Smart Communities program is a key part of the City of Chicago’s Digital Excellence Initiative and is administered as a part of LISC/Chicago’s New Communities Program.


Building Fundable Partnerships: Legacy Data Organizations and Public Purpose Application Developers

Virginia Carlson, President,

Metro Chicago Information Center

 *Goal:* Explore the relationship among application developers, legacy information organizations, community organizations, and funders and develop collaborative models that are both fundable and sustainable.

 *Description:*  A critical task for the Gov 2.0 network is to figure out what models exist and might exist for collaboration among application developers, legacy information organizations (such as NNIP members, see above), and community organizations. Part of the challenge is a generational and language gap between funders and application developers; this will be a conversation centered on bridging that gap and creating lasting partnerships that are attractive build on existing foundation/data organization relationships. Legacy organizations have been doing data technical assistance for years, but we don't necessarily have the skills and energy of application developers, (although we might wish we did).  Perhaps the right way to approach data development and application development is to bridge the legacy/new application developers gap.  That gap is generational, linguistic, skills-based, etc.  How do we talk to each other and harness each others’ capabilities?

Using data to create humanistic projects to build awareness and evangelize better models for wealth distribution (energy, intellectual capital, sustenance resources) Micah Topping

- A goal is to increase adoption and awareness of the lessons learned from data mining and observation of systems which can come across as abstract or academic.

- The working hypothesis is that adoption and awareness of lessons learned from data mining and civic development can be spurned on by finding humanistic ways to communicate this data.
- Discuss potential art projects or narratives that could be crated through the visualization or auralization of existing open data
- Explorative discussion about effective symbols and structures in design, language and narrative that can be used in communicating the value of this research and inspire further study

Here are some topics in which we are interested:


All new wiki entries relating to topics below should be entered at http://wiki.openmuni.org/




The Open Planning Project (TOPP)


Smart Communities

Planning Tech (a mailing list for discussion of urban planning and technology)


Data Suggestions - post them here: http://barcamp.pbworks.com/Data-suggestions


barcamp info: 

Organizing Committee:

2009-2010:  Kevin Curry, Jennifer Pahlka, Laurel Ruma, Dmitry Kachaev, Kevin Merritt, Hart Rossman, Brian Sobel, Noel Hidalgo, Steven Clift



CityCamp is hosted by The Rockefeller Foundation

See also http://citycamp.eventbrite.com for complete list of sponsors until this page is updated


CityCamp is also inspired by Code for America, which was in turn inspired by Teach for America 





Gov 2.0 Camp costs: data, charts

Social Dev Camp Budget