WATERgate

These were pictures of some water sculptures that I took at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.The waterfalls remind me more of the landscaping around Floridian high-rises or the water flumes at Walt Disney parks than of what you normally see around town, here.I liked these aesthetically and think we generally need more integration of nature and art into our urban (and often sterile) environment.

A little more green, a little more clean, and a lot little less crime and congestion–and don’t forget a decent climate–those were some of the things that I look for in attractive places to live and to work.

While no place is perfect, having grown up on the upper west side in Manhattan and then Riverdale (in the Bronx) and now in the D.C. area, let’s just say that there are differences all around us. 😉

Then again, as my father always taught me, you can live anywhere–if you have your health, family, and a good job.
He’s right, a place is just a place–and it’s the people and love between them that makes it great.

So water sculptures aside, give me a real home, and that’s the best place in the world that I want to be.

(Source photos: Andy Blumenthal)

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Not A Cloud In The Sky

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I thought this picture was sort of humorous.

This lady is walking down the street with this big green umbrella, but there is NOT a cloud in the sky.

In fact, you can see in the upper right that it is a beautiful and clear sunny day.

Also, where she is walking, it is clearly shady and cool–so the umbrella is not needed as a sun screen either.

From a technology annoyance perspective, it is long past time to invent something more creative than a cheap, crappy umbrella–like from Charlie Chaplin and The Umbrella–to protect us from elements.

Someone, please come up with a push-button protective bubble that envelops us–clear for visibility, of course–and keeps us dry and temperate.

A beautiful, futuristic clear dome over the city would be nice too, but probably cost prohibitive and not as adjustable for each indiividual and their respective needs.

Hopefully, someday soon. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Power To The People

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From potholes to garbage, broken street lights to vandalism…we want to get our community problems resolved.

There is a good-looking application called “SeeClickFixfor connecting people and government to point out problems and get them fixed, fast.

It works with iPhone, Droids, and Blackberries; integrates with Facebook and Twitter; and has dashboard reporting and alerts, as well as emails notifications to provide acknowledgements and status updates on issues.
Built on the Open311 model, which provides APIs to existing internal systems and processes, so citizens report non-emergency issues to government based on standardized, open-access, and interoperable systems.

Open 311 describes how it works:

Using a mobile device or a computer, someone can enter information (ideally with a photo) about a problem…This report is then routed to the relevant authority to addressthis information is available for anyone to see and…contribute more informationBy making the information public, it provides transparency and accountability for those responsible for the problem.”

According to an article, iCitizen, in Fast Company (December 2010-January 2011), reported problems from citizen’s smartphones or computers can even be routed straight to dashboard computers on public works trucks, “meaning a click in the morning can lead to a repair in the afternoon.”

Ok, this may still be more vision than reality at this time, but it is a noble vision, indeed!

This is an evolution from 311 phones systems in many cities which are one way communications from individuals calling into government call centers and then waiting, waiting, waiting to see if the problem gets resolved to instead applications like SeeClickFix as a highly visible cloud solution where many people can openly exchange information over the Internet on public issues–providing more information, even potentially rating and ranking them (i.e. helping set public priorities for allocating limited public resources to community problems).

This can even be coupled with suggestion platforms such as IdeaScale for crowd-sourced citizen input into urban planning and community health, safety, and livability issues.

As part of its Apps for Democracy contest, DC awarded a prize and grant for the development of FIxMyCityDC, a web-based application for submitting service requests, checking status by interactive maps, along with the option of the user getting a call when the problem is resolved.

This is huge progress from the prior endlessly annoying call centers and their Interactive Voice Response Units that previously took callers through a maze of pre-recorded numeric options that more-often than not ended in the users abandoning the call and service requests going unfilled.

This is a far better model of information sharing, collaboration and transparency to solve real everyday problems in our communities, and a great example of the power of e-Government.