Open Data: Saving Forests and City Governments

How important is open data to effective government and good public policy?Ā 

According to two guest speakers at our latestĀ Third Thursdays SF meetup, it could mean preserving California's forests and deciding whether millions a year in Ethics spending in San Francisco will go to reform or just bureaucracy.

I didn't know until recently that California's Sierras were being denuded in huge swaths of clear cutting. But check out this one-minute video from Forests Forever and you'll see it too:

I'm working with Paul Hughes, executive director of Forests Forever, and Larry Bush, founder ofĀ CitiReport, to put together an SF Bay Area hackathon this winter to help their causes. Both groups will sponsor modest prizes, and we welcome support and involvement from wherever you are. If you can help, please email "adriel at"

Forests Forever needs a prototype of how XML data from foresty impact reports would help paint a true picture of watershed impacts from clear cutting - they'll use this to make a case for XML publishing standards through the CA Legislature; and Bush wants to take the muddled finance and influence reporting in SF and paint a clear picture of how contractors are participating in SF's elections.Ā 

I'm convinced that hackers, UI experts and artists can help mightily with these projects, and help change public policy for the better.

  • In other news, I've just launched a new podcast on organizing, NationBuilder'sLeaders and Creators. You can check out the first episode - an interview with three organizers working on Occupy Wall Street actions -Ā here.Ā 
  • I've also relaunched Gov 2.0 Radio on the NationBuilder platform, and our latest episode is a fantastic interview with Deb Boyer, a project manager with Open Data Philly. Check it outĀ here.
  • Finally, if you're in the SF Bay Area this week, ZĆ³calo is sponsoring a forum at Stanford on Wednesday night: "Can Technology Save California Governments?" You canĀ RSVP here.
I'd love to have your help in organizing an open data hackathon around environmental stewardship and campaign ethics. Email "adriel at" if you can help, and please let me know how I can supportĀ yourĀ efforts.

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