Welcome to the fifth edition of Civic Tech Monthly. Below you’ll find news and notes about civic tech from Australia and around the world.
It was our 7th birthday this month (yay!) so we hope you’ll indulge us a little while we share a little more news about ourselves than usual. That also gives us a great reason to remind you that the entire production of Civic Tech Monthly is done in the open on GitHub. We very much welcome your suggestions throughout the month for items to add to the newsletter.
For the last couple of months Luke Bacon and Matthew Landauer have been working hard on polishing our scraping platform, morph.io. This has handily coincided with a number of Sydney events to do with scraping, organised by us and others.
If you’re in Sydney tonight, Thursday the 25th of June, head along to Australia Open Data’s event organised by Rosie Williams of InfoAus fame. About a fortnight ago Luke organised a low key event dedicated to scraping that was a great success. We also had a great time scraping with Googlers last week and we’ll share more exciting news about that with you very soon – keep your eyes peeled on the blog.
Last month #Alaveteli15 had top billing in this newsletter. This month you can read all about Henare Degan’s experience at the conference in his blog post summing up the two huge days he had at the conference. From sharing war stories of peoples’ experiences using Freedom of Information with Right To Know in Australia, through to hatching international plans to develop a guide to what makes a good FOI law in today’s online world.
Australia’s Parliament recently voted to enact legislation which allows copyright holders (like movie, TV and music producers) to apply to the Federal Court to have piracy-related websites blocked. Will Ockenden created s115a.com (named after the section of the law that was added) in an attempt to introduce some transparency to those site-blocking laws by letting you know when an application is made, and (hopefully) the final result.
18F is the US Government’s digital services delivery team, similar to the well known and regarded GDS in the UK (that the Australian Government is hoping to repeat with the DTO). They have just launched openFOIA, which guides citizens through the process of making a Freedom of Information request. It’s interesting to see a government-delivered take on this (and heartening that they at least acknowledge this has been done before). It’s being developed in the open on GitHub, like everything else 18F do.
Anyone can now easily make requests for information from New South Wales and the Northern Territory governments and local councils using Right To Know. We’ve added hundreds of new authorities to the site and made a host of changes to facilitate some of the quirks in the different access to information laws. We’re really pleased to see some authorities already helping citizens access information important to them. You can read more of the nitty-gritty in our blog post announcing the launch.
It’s not often these come up so we’re excited to hear about two sets of job opportunities this month. Code for Australia is hiring fellows – they’re looking for developers, designers or community organisers to work at the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and the Victorian Neighbourhood Justice Centre. Applications are also open for the next cohort of Knight-Mozilla OpenNews fellows, they’re after developers, technologists, civic hackers, or data crunchers who want to help change the world of journalism.
Since the beginning of this year the core team at the OpenAustralia Foundation has been getting together for a day every quarter to make a plan for the upcoming 3 months. This time Matthew Landauer has written up our plans in a blog post. As you’ll see in the post we’ve got another very busy 3 months ahead!