Ash Center Fellows in Innovation Roll Up Their Sleeves

September 13, 2010

This summer, Ash Center Fellows in Innovation rolled up their sleeves and got to work, supporting unique education, government, and service initiatives in cities around the country.

Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant


Alejandra Vallejos Morales, HKS MPA 2011, explored data transparency in government this summer, offering research support to Washington, D.C.’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer. The Office’s Data Feeds Program is the nation’s first government initiative to make virtually all current city government data available to citizens. By accessing any of the program’s 430 data feeds through the internet, citizens can gain up-to-date information about everything from parking availability to crime statistics in their neighborhoods.

Quoting Louis Brandeis’ famous adage, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants,” Morales explained that while the program has exposed data performance to public criticism, such transparency has created an environment of self-improvement and accountability for civic offices. “In Latin America where I’m from, people come to the streets to complain,” said Morales. “But in e-government, we create streets for people to participate in 24/7. There’s less mess and real change happens.”

During her fellowship, Morales researched new opportunities for replicating the Data Feeds Program in other jurisdictions around the world and proposed creative ideas for interpreting existing data feeds to engage citizens. Her recommendations included repurposing the Department of Motor Vehicles’ organ donor information for larger public campaigns to increase donor rates, and creative mapping tools for presenting information on agencies and departments interested in serving as a backdrop for films in the D.C. area.

Read more from the Fellows and watch more video on the Ash Center website.

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