Civic Tech Monthly, July 2015

Welcome to the sixth edition of Civic Tech Monthly. Below you’ll find news and notes about civic tech from Australia and around the world.

It’s been very cold here in Sydney. People were even snowboarding down the main street of Katoomba, where our co-founders live.

Maybe that means people have been hibernating because this month we started with slim pickings for the newsletter. Fortunately we’ve managed to pull together some interesting links to share with you nonetheless. Remember, if you’d like to submit your own links you can do so right on the GitHub repository where we prepare this newsletter.

Folks coming to the Sydney Pub Meet on Tuesday are in for a treat this month. Anyone can give a lightning talk to share something interesting in civic tech they’ve seen or done. This means we’ve also got a lovely new venue – the Trinity Bar in Surry Hills. We’ve also got more room so there’s still spots available for you to RSVP and come along.

Know someone who would like these newsletters? Pass on the sign up link http://eepurl.com/bcE0DX.

News and Notes

Citizens vs Customers: Democracy in the age of Google

Check out the video of the Google Tech Talk that Matthew Landauer gave prior to the Google Serve event we mentioned in last month’s edition. You can also read more about what we achieved with a little scraping and the help of some civic-minded Googlers in Luke Bacon’s blog post, “Another 2 million people can get PlanningAlerts“.

Become a supporter of morph.io

Speaking of scraping, this month we added a way for people to support our free and open scraping platform, morph.io. By becoming a supporter you can keep morph.io free for everyone and make it even more awesome. There’s also the option to get priority technical support if you need it. A huge thank you to the wonderful people who have already shown their support. Please give them a hug if you see them.

Unearthing interesting data

There are almost 3,000 scrapers on morph.io which means there’s all sorts of interesting data to play with. Here’s a few that caught our eye this month:

What interesting data have you seen? Tweet us: @morph_io

Hello to mySociety’s new CEO, Mark Cridge

Like so many people we were sad to hear that Tom Steinberg, mySociety’s founder, was stepping down. Now we’re excited to welcome Mark Cridge as their new CEO. We’re looking forward to working with Mark in the future and we hope to meet him soon.

Alaveteli 0.22

While we’re on the topic of mySociety, they’ve just released Alaveteli 0.22. This is the software that runs Right To Know, and so many other Freedom of Information request sites around the world. We wouldn’t normally include something so technical in the newsletter but this is a big release and also includes contributions from our very own Luke Bacon and Henare Degan. Some of these contributions are a direct result of AlaveteliCon 2015, which we’ve mentioned in previous editions.

Flagpost

This site was generating a bit of chatter on Twitter recently. We think it’s a really nice example of what can happen when governments engage in an open process and civic hackers see a way to dive in and make it even better. Flagpost collects and overlays additional useful data about submissions to New Zealand’s national flag redesign process. And of course the data to make this happen comes from a scraper, which itself is an extension of another scraper. That’s some fine civic hacking collaboration.

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