Vote for Project

As discussed in this post, I’ve put together a poll with your suggestions for a project to bring to the city — let me know if I’ve missed anything; I had to summarize some of the (wonderful, long) comments into a bite-sized chunk. 

(Also, I know I promised a poll yesterday, but I’ve been busier than usual.  I mean to respond more to the comments as time permits; as always, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the comments and continue to feel that those are the best parts of this blog.)

Regarding the poll, you can vote for up to two choices, and on Friday, I’ll pick one of the top three vote-getters as something we can work on. 

Ultimate Citizen

(Um, obviously not referring to me.)

Tracy pointed out a competition sponsored by the Pioneer Institute called the Ultimate Citizen Award. 

Here’s a summary:

From May 17th to June 15th, 2010, Pioneer Institute is launching a competition to hear citizen’s ideas about how transparency and accountability issues in government could be solved through technology.If you live or work in Brockton, Chicopee, Fall River, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Lawrence, Leominster, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Springfield, Taunton or Worcester we invite you to contact your family, friends, and neighbors and ask them 3 basic questions:

What government information do you think people should have access to?
In what format do you think this information should be delivered in?
How do you think technology can be used to make government more transparent and accountable to citizens?

You can collect responses to these 3 questions through blog posts, email surveys, video testimonials, phone calls, Twitter update submissions, and/or in-person focus groups.

So — in addition to our ongoing discussion of a project that we’ll vote on for the city — I’d love to hear your responses to the three questions above (either in the comments or on your own blog).  I’ll submit this blog post (with comments) as an entry.  If we win, we can use the money from the prize ($1,000) towards one or more of the projects we vote on, or something that comes up in the context of the above three questions.

Here are my answers to the three questions:

1 & 2) I think there’s a lot of financial data that could be made accessible to citizens without going the FOIA route.  For instance, there are legitimate questions about how much the Providence Street playground should have cost, and I know (though I can’t find a link) that Konnie Lukes has proposed that all city payments be made available via the web.  For that kind of data, I think that something online, easily searchable, and downloadable into a .pdf or .xls format would be preferable.

I also think that the City of Worcester needs to improve public safety communications.  When I read Jeff’s post this morning, I was less irritated that the T&G had not reported the news of a shooting, and more that the police had not reported this via Twitter.  The last time the crime statistics page was updated was the first quarter of 2009; the link from their main page to crime watch meetings just brings you to the city calendar, which isn’t helpful in the least.  I think that the WorcesterPD should be providing crime alerts via Twitter (similar to the Boston Police, which also uses CrimeReports for statistics), providing crime statistics in a format (and frequency) similar to the Hartford Police, and a better-formatted calendar of neighborhood watch meetings.

As for the city in general, I think it would be great to have a Twitter/Facebook account for each precinct in the city, which would let residents know about traffic delays/construction projects, crime alerts, public meetings affecting that precinct (Planning Board, Historical Commission, ZBA, etc.), school meetings, etc.  Right now, there is no good way for someone to know everything that is affecting their area of the city in one click/link.

3) –I’ll update this post when I think about that further; stay tuned–