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Chris Steins is co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Planetizen.

More On RFP Sins...

City of East Providence, Rhode IslandI got a slew of responses (some positive, some not) on my post, "Top 8 Sins For RFPs". The best response came from Chelsea Pierce, an Associate Planner with the City of East Providence, Rhode Island , who offers a few of her proposal pet peeves. Chelsea writes:

Great list of RFP sins! I'll keep those things in mind when I write my next one. I have a few proposal submittal pet peeves I'd like to share - small things, really, but also things that drive me bananas.

Sticky Shadows

Cool application underway by Socialight. Sticky Shadows are digital post-it notes for urban areas. I like the idea of neighborhood narratives.

From their website:
"How's it Used?
-- I leave a note for all my friends at the mall to let them know where I'm hanging out. All my friends in the area see it.
-- A woman shows all her close friends the tree under which she had her first kiss.
-- An entire neighborhood gets together and documents all the unwanted litter they find in an effort to share ownership of a community problem.

Top 8 Sins For RFPs

Working at Urban Insight, I see about 10-20 RFPs for various projects each month. We have to evaluate the cost/benefit of deciding to respond to any one of these RFPs, and so the RFPs are evaluated by us much the way that our proposal would be evaluated by an organization or agency.

While some RFPs are outstanding, and clearly describe the project, evaluation, and process, others are, well, downright embarrassing, or contain clauses and provisions that leave you scratching your head.

Web Content Syndication For E-government

Tennessee.gov RSS Feeds

The popularity of blogs and podcasting is partly driven by the simple concept of web content syndication and aggregation using RSS and ATOM feeds. Yet, a study by Yahoo suggests that RSS is still not widely adopted. The study reports:

"...27% of users actually consume RSS on personalized start pages without realizing that it's the underlying technology enabling what they read. Sites such as MyYahoo, MyMSN, and the Firefox browser with its active bookmarks provide easy access to regularly updated RSS feeds with little or no effort from users."

Living in glass data houses

Even though I knew this data existed, seeing it spatially displayed so I could easily get the scoop on all my neighbors made me uneasy. Straight from DirectionsMag.com:

Google Owns Your Getting Around

Okay, somebody out there try this. Somebody who knows their way around Portland, Oregon. And then you, somebody, whoever you are, send an email reporting back. Because this is Google's new trip planner beta -- it uses Google Maps and transit info to tell you how to get from here to there on bus and so forth, as long as "here" and "there" are in Portland. And I haven't spent real time in Portland in almost 20 years.

But it's Google, right? And they're smarter than all of us.

Baby Name Wizard

As a new father struggling with finding baby names (our little guy was two months early), it was a pleasure to stumble across Baby Name Wizard (this requires java). The site tracks the popularity of baby names through time. The interactive design is fascinating and a great example of how to pack a lot of overlapping information into one clear graphic. It seems the name we chose - Kai - is gaining popularity. I'm always behind the trends.

$100 laptops open the door for highly interactive public meetings

What will be the next public participation technology? Here's one possibility… wireless laptops with electronic ink capability (and built in hand generators to boot!). All packaged to cost less than today's keypad polling devices. Way cool!

1. http://laptop.media.mit.edu/
2. http://news.com.com/2300-1044_3-5884639-3.html

Too bad they're not for sale, but I'm sure others will follow.

Wi-Fi Markets

Just to keep everyone updated on the continuing development of Wi-Fi, Muni-wireless released a new report on the state of the Wi-Fi market. The long and short of it is the market is expanding rapidly with just about every city looking to get in on the action.

On the flip side, the Philadelphia Inquirer last weekend ran a story about the uncertain future of wireless as a city-led initiative.

California IT Strategic Plan - I Stand Corrected

Clark KelsoClark Kelso, California's Chief Information Officer, was kind enough to respond to my recent post, California Updates State IT Strategic Plan, commenting on the state's new strategic plan and what I perceived to be a lack of focus on making technology accessible to people with disabilities.

Clark writes:

...I am pleased to see that our planning activities are being followed so closely in the trade press.

The last paragraph in your article suggests we may not be paying sufficient attention to Section 508 issues in our web developments. Although we did not cite Section 508 in the strategic plan, accessibility is the very heart of our efforts. As your article notes,
the very first goal of the plan is to "Make government services more accessible to citizens and State clients." That concept of accessibility includes not only opening up new, technology-enabled vehicles for delivering services, information and benefits, but the goal of ensuring that those vehicles -- as well as all existing vehicles -- are ADA accessible and compliant.

Our Portal Steering Committee, which was only recently created and is just starting to warm up to the topic, has already expressly recognized ADA compliance as a required component of the State's web presence. The following link plainly identifies ADA accessibility and compliance as a necessary aspect of the user interface:
http://www.cio.ca.gov/PDFs/Portal_Committee-040805.pdf (PDF, 100KB)

The State's web pages are NOT always appropriately accessible, but this is most certainly an issue that we take seriously at the highest planning levels, and we encourage all departments to make accessibility a high priority.

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