December 20, 2012
We live in an era of great change. But can Montgomery County government keep pace?
That is a big question facing our county’s leaders. We want Montgomery County to be recognized as an innovation capital, where the government, the private sector, and community leaders work together on our biggest challenges.
In that spirit, the County Council recently passed a bill that I crafted called the Open Data Act. It will require County Government to be more sophisticated in how we collect and manage data and it will establish a new policy of sharing valuable data openly with the public. The new law is a foundation for a new digital strategy for Montgomery County, which I have helped formulate with County Executive Ike Leggett and his superb team.
What does it all mean for you?
- The county budget is now on the web in remarkable detail. Citizen analysts will be able to manipulate the data and even casual users can create their own visualizations using our online tools. The smallest budget details are searchable for each department, including the salary for all county employees. In time, every department will have a public data set.
- Use our new 311 mobile app to request county services. Want to report a road repair or fallen tree limb, request bulk trash pickup, you name it — use 311 mobile wherever you are.
- 3rd party app developers will improve services. Across the country, app developers are figuring out how to create valuable services for consumers based on government data. From transportation planning apps to real estate and tax apps, you are going to benefit from letting the private sector leverage county data to create apps.
- Your voice can be heard in new ways. Already I talk with residents daily on my Facebook page. You may also interact on Facebook with the county police department, fire & rescue, libraries, regional centers, and more. The county also has a new tool for collaborating with residents, called engageMontgomery, where you may submit your own ideas for county priorities and “second” those submitted by others. Its a great tool that government agencies are using all across the country to garner input from residents.
- More innovation jobs in Montgomery County. MoCo has one of America’s most highly skilled workforces, we have dynamic IT and biotech companies. Striving for leadership in digital government will send a positive message to the private sector and the county council is specifically looking at how we can use these new tools to foster economic development.
- Next steps and how YOU can get involved. We need a forum where local government officials can join with experts, programmers, journalists and most importantly, citizens like you. I have proposed that the County begin planning a summit where participants can exchange ideas, advocate for issues, leverage open government content, and provide input for better local governing practices. This is a chance to help shape the community around us. The planning is still in initial stages and we will need help from people like you. Please reply to this email if you are interested.
In launching the new digital government agenda, the County Executive released a Digital Roadmap that says, “this strategy aims to be disruptive.”
That’s exactly right. We need to disrupt and create. New ideas will help us drive change in this county for the better.