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This Week: Google's Civic Information API adds US representatives

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  • It’s been a busy week for critiques of open data and open government. At The Programmable City, Professor Rob Kitchin presents four critiques of open data initiatives: from sustainability and empowering the empowered, to barriers to effective use and neoliberalisation of public services. David Eaves responds to the critiques on his blog, emphasizing some and refocusing others. Panthea Lee from Reboot, a social enterprise to improve governance and development, continues her six-week series on equitable and accountable governance for the Aspen Institute, with a fourth installment about how open government initiatives need to better understand citizens than they do currently. We encourage you to check out the first, second and third installments that discuss open government’s constraints and biases and how to evaluate its progress. Finally, Katherine Barnett and Richard Greene explain in Governing magazine’s December issue how much more work must be done to fulfill the promise of open government.

  • Google’s Civic Information API now includes information on US representatives, acquired from various sources. A key component to stiching that data together is the Open Civic Data Identifier scheme, whose development was led by the Sunlight Foundation, in collaboration with other organizations including Open North. The OCD identifiers are part of Sunlight’s larger Open Civic Data project, for which Sunlight received funding from Google.org earlier this year, and whose goal is to provide free and open formats and tools to make effective use of local government data. Read Sunlight’s coverage of Google’s API update for more information. If you’re looking for an API with Canadian representatives, check out our Represent service.

  • Gavin Starks, CEO of the Open Data Institute, offers insight into how the year-old ODI operates and how it hopes to pursue its mission of catalyzing the evolution of open data culture through its new global network of ODI Nodes.

  • Also, don’t miss James McKinney’s post on different conceptions of the “civic power sector” and our announcement of JeVeuxSavoir.org, an access to information portal for Quebec.

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