This plenary session was in charge of Catherine Bracy. Currently she runs Code for All, Code for America’s international program. Until November 2012, she was a product manager and director of the Obama campaign’s technology office in San Francisco. She also did outreach to the tech community for Tech4Obama. Prior to joining the campaign, she ran the Knight Foundation’s 2011 News Challenge and before that was the administrative director at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
Catherine Bracy started this plenary by pointing out the difference there is in the way our governments handle things, still bureaucratically, and the way private industries do.** Why can’t governments be like other industries, as the personal finances industry, aided by innovation and technology?**
She mentioned an initiative started by the Hawaiian government, Honolulu Answers, then extended into others cities, by which with the help of technology they have created a platform with answers to the most popular questions someone living or travelling to the city may have. In order to elaborate this set of questions people were encouraged to participate, and Catherine finds interesting and positive this way of involving government and people, not only when voting.
Another example are the governments that use mobile technology to make polls around their citizens. This is a way of including more people in the system and getting further input, still from those who in their daily life are not involved or available to assist to debate meetings.
Finally, Catherine Bracy introduced Code For America, whose mission is to reduce the gap between technology and governments. They try to spread the idea that government interphases might as well be nice, simple, and easy to use.