As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance, the GovLab Wiki provides a collaborative repository of information and research at the nexus of technology, governance and citizenship. Every two weeks, The GovLab Blog will publish a snapshot of recent additions posted to the wiki. The following is a summary and collection of key findings from recent entries posted by GovLab Research and two student teams taking part in the GovLab Capstone at NYU Wagner.
WE NEED YOU: Please help us advance the field’s knowledge base by improving what we have and sharing your insights and research on the GovLab Wiki.
Our latest updates to the wiki focus on platforms for engaging the crowd, finding and engaging expertise and innovating at the local level – from improved hyperlocal city news to reducing strain on hospital emergency rooms.
- Tools for collaboration, like GitHub, have exploded in popularity over the course of the last four years – both in terms of active users and engagement on the platforms by those users.
- Crowdsourcing is increasingly being used a tool for addressing public problems and needs. SeeClickFix, for example, is helping local governments intelligently address problems affecting their citizens, and, perhaps surprisingly, these citizen-identified problems are being addressed in large numbers. Neighbor.ly, on the other hand, provides local governments with a platform for raising funding for public projects with demonstrated importance to citizens.
- Tools for identifying and engaging individuals with specific skills or interests – whether in terms of job experience, like LinkedIn, Futures.inc and oDesk; charitable interests, like Catchafire; or academic research focus, like ResearchGate – are becoming more prevalent, demonstrating the growing interest in such abilities across sectors.
- Tools for providing hyperlocal information, like EveryBlock, and personally relevant data, like Propellor Health can help improve citizens’ use of public services ranging from emergency rooms to community cultural centers.
Catchafire matches professionals who want to volunteer their skills with nonprofits who need their help. These skills and tasks range from help with branding, fundraising and report writing, for organizations across the wide spectrum of nonprofit field.
- As of 2013, Catchafire volunteers had given roughly 3,600 hours, worth some $600,000 to the non-profits that “hired” them. A selection of successful case studies featured on Catchafire’s main page show savings for organizations representing anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.
EveryBlock is a web start up that provided hyperlocal and even “microlocal” news for urban cities.
- Key finding: EveryBlock Chicago, allowed residents to track a variety of information related to particular neighborhoods and provides tools for users to converse with neighbors. It combined data from official crime reports with neighborhood discussion, and citizen-sourced photos taken in neighborhoods to provide a greater situational picture of Chicago’s neighborhoods. By combining crime information with other useful neighborhood information – like building permits, restaurant inspections and media mentions – EveryBlock provides Chicago citizens with a one-stop destination for public safety and general lifestyle information.
Futures.Inc is a wholesale provider of talent matching technology that partners with companies to develop advanced talent exchanges.
- Key finding: Futures uses a Pipeline engine, patented algorithms, and structured information models to distill thousands of data objects in real time to present employers with the most qualified candidates first. The Pipeline engine offers a 24/7 user-friendly platform for career exploration, interest and skills assessment, education and training, and direct access to regional job postings. It also translates approximately 9,300 military occupational specialty job description codes to match them with civilian job openings.
GitHub is an open-source website intended to encourage collaboration among software developers around the world. The site acts as both a repository for projects and as a knowledge base for users to build better code by working together and sharing ideas.
- Key finding: GitHub boasts over 5.9 million users and over 12.5 million repositories housed on the site as of early 2014. This is especially impressive considering that the company announced the 1 millionth repository in a blog post on July 25, 2010.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site that provides users with a way to connect to other individuals both within and across industries through the creation of a virtual resume called a ‘Profile’.
- LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It has over 277 million members in more than 200 countries and 19 languages with 2 new members joining every second. There are currently 149 fields and industries represented on the site.
- The site also allows recruiters and human resources staff to vet individuals before they decide to arrange an interview. In a recent survey conducted by JobVite, LinkedIn was found to be overwhelmingly the top choice of HR and recruiting specialists. The survey revealed that more than 90% of recruiters listed LinkedIn as their tool to find, vet, and track potential employees.
Neighbor.ly is a crowdfunding site for local governments, neighborhoods, and certain civic-natured nonprofits.
- As of March 30, 2014, Neighbor.ly has raised $1.45 million for 30 projects in 24 communities with 2,300 contributers. The site has a stated three-year impact goal of helping 1,000 communities fund 10,000 projects by raising $1 billion+.
oDesk is a web-based company that serves as a resource to connect clients with potential experts in various industries to complete projects for hire in a secure environment without having any prior relationship. The online marketplace fulfills the hire-on-demand needs for a flexible workforce without the need for permanent hiring.
- Key finding: As of June 2013, the company has 3.1 million independent freelancers in its network has featured 3.6 million jobs posted since inception, mostly small companies. While oDesk’s top competitor, Elance has raised far more funding ($78 million compared to oDesk’s $44 million), oDesk’s cumulative freelancer earning estimate is higher ($920 million, compared to Elance at $739 million).
Propellor Health is a mobile platform for respiratory health management designed to help patients and their physicians better understand and control respiratory disease to reduce preventable emergency room visits and hospitalizations.
- Key finding: Propeller applies data to solve one of the most pressing public health concerns – asthma and COPD – including sharing data, putting data in the hands of patients, leveraging aggregated and anonymous data and linking health data to place. Through sensors, mobile apps and services, Propeller aims to reduce the cost of care while delivering better quality of life for individuals with chronic respiratory disease. Studies found a 50 percent decrease in uncontrolled asthma among users.
ResearchGate is a social network dedicated to science and research. It is an online space for scientists and researchers to connect, collaborate and discover scientific publications, jobs and conferences for free.
Key finding: The site is designed to facilitate collaborations and data sharing among scientists around the world, has raised $35 million from investors including Bill Gates. It boasts 2.8 million users.Earlier this year, ResearchGate reported that approximately 12,342 questions were answered in their 4,000 topics in 2011 alone.
SeeClickFix is a multifaceted citizen reporting engine featuring user-generated information in a wide variety of areas. The site’s Web 2.0-like interface provides a wealth of information on a given issue, and allows for users to interact with existing problems on the site, potentially amplifying their importance for governments.
- Key finding: SeeClickFix was integrated with Chicago’s 311 system to become the official means of citizen reporting in the city. In 2010, at a point when the site was available in 25,000 towns and 8,000 neighborhoods, it was reported that over 45 percent of issues submitted on the site were resolved.
The GovLab Capstone Expertise Team includes: Andrea Arce, Colin Bottles, Lauren Bush and Danielle Emery
The GovLab Capstone Crowdsourcing Team includes: Naomi Adland, Naomi Berlin, Dinorah Cantu Pedraza, Marisse Crenier Del Olmo, Hallie Martin and Chandan Sharma