California Launches Innovation Lab to Improve Digital Government Engagement

March 8, 2016 12:01 pm PST | Data as a Service

Editor’s note: This post was written by Jesse Romine, Socrata’s Director of Strategic Accounts. 

California is making strides to increase transparency and accountability within their state government by leveraging data to strengthen the relationship between government and citizens. According to Chris Cruz, Chief Deputy Director of Operations for the state’s technology department, open data “bolsters our democracy” by increasing transparency and accountability and opening the doors of government to citizens.

The Office of Digital Innovation and Technology Engagement was launched in early February to promote innovation and position the California Department of Technology as a leader in state government. The new agency creates “an important link between what we promise and what we deliver as a trusted government partner to effectuate civic engagement,” Cruz wrote in a blog post.

The new office, led by Scott Gregory, Geographic Information Officer, will create usage policy and standards for open source technology within the state’s cloud environment. One of the first major goals is creating a tech-habitat, which will bring together open source experts from all levels of state government and the Open Source community to share and develop civic applications and technology development. This innovation incubator hosts “code-a-thons” to give citizens the opportunity to develop solutions to problems that they encounter every day in their communities and in dealing with state government agencies.

The ability to step outside of how the technical teams typically develop an offering, and look to outside sources while encouraging citizen engagement, not only saves money but, according to Cruz, “it’s a breath of fresh air in government from where we’ve been previously.”

Learn more about what leading states, cities, and counties are doing around the U.S. and how you can develop and evolve your own government measurement program by downloading Socrata’s Open Performance Guide.

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