New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Miranda Neubauer

Capital New York City tech leadership touts conference as feedback opportunity by Miranda Neubauer

City tech leadership touts conference as feedback opportunity

Earlier in the afternoon, Councilman Ben Kallos will participate in a panel on "Designing the Digital Legislature" along with Seamus Kraft, executive director of the OpenGov Foundation, a co-creator of the Free Law Founders with Kallos, and David Moore, executive director of the Participatory Politics Foundation.

Capital New York Payphone wi-fi program seen as 'citizen engagement' platform by Miranda Neubauer

Payphone wi-fi program seen as 'citizen engagement' platform

On a later panel, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos discussed how technology could help bridge the gap between the government and the public. With the establishment of laws she spearheaded, including open data and webcasting legislation, "now the challenge is making it work," Brewer said, to ensure that agencies fulfill the mandate, data is available in real-time and is up-to-date, as agencies also still face logistical and bandwidth hurdles when seeking to webcast meetings.

Kallos said Council legislation will be available through an open application programming interface beginning in July. Council legislationmeeting and member datawas already recently added to the open data portal. While those datasets had a deadline of Jan. 1, Council land use items are currently only scheduled to come on the portal in December 2018. Kallos emphasized the need for a partnership between government and the private sector and technology developers to ensure that the right of kind of data is made available in the right format.

Capital New York Kallos Praises Progress by City Board of Elections by Miranda Neubauer

Kallos Praises Progress by City Board of Elections

Kallos positively cited the elimination of voter cards, listing voters' ages in poll books, the board's adoption of City Time, its subscription to the Social Security Death Master File Index, implementation of electronic detection of write-ins and the purchase of high-speed printers to print various types of ballots as needed.

 

Capital New York Kallos introducing bill to assist owners of towed vehicles by Miranda Neubauer

Kallos introducing bill to assist owners of towed vehicles

Councilman Ben Kallos is expected to introduce legislation today that would allow residents to get information on the locations of vehicles towed due to temporary parking restrictions by accessing the Department of Transportation's website or calling 311. 
Currently, according to Kallos, that is only possible for vehicles taken to impound lots for regular parking violations. When vehicles are moved to a surrounding block due to construction without the owners' knowledge, the police may have no record of it, Kallos said, and owners are told to search surrounding blocks or contact construction crews who may have left.

Capital New York Council to look elsewhere for constituent engagement technology by Miranda Neubauer

Council to look elsewhere for constituent engagement technology

City Council members hope to improve public engagement with the legislative process through tech, as civic technologists aim to expand and step up their efforts.

Councilman Ben Kallos, chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, said he planned to focus on implementation of the laws requiring online publication of the city's laws and of the City Council technology plan that was part of rules reforms passed last year.

"We've already gotten so much more accomplished in the first year than anyone may have ever expected and I think a lot of the focus in 2015 will be around implementation, beta-testing and learning from our first roll-outs and implementations," Kallos said.

In connection with those efforts, Kallos suggested that the Council could look toward the model of the State Senate's web platform, new tools for engaging with constituents and public-private partnerships incorporating other cities and civic technology groups.

Capital New York Public Advocate to Relaunch Public-Information Commission by Miranda Neubauer

Public Advocate to Relaunch Public-Information Commission

 

The City Council on Wednesday confirmed Councilman Ben Kallos as its appointee to the Commission on Public Information and Communication, one day before Public Advocate Letitia James plans to hold a hearing on the commission.

Though often invoked by city open government advocates, the commission, which aims to improve access to city information and data, has held only infrequent meetings and has had little influence in recent years.

In remarks before the rules committee on Wednesday morning, Kallos said that the "great commission" was one reason he had wanted to become chair of the Governmental Operations committee, which has oversight over COPIC.

"It has been slightly dysfunctional and hasn't been meeting," he said. "We have a great leader in our public advocate, Tish James, and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to ... [work] with our public advocate to get the word out on all the information and all the great things this government does."

Capital New York Citing City Hall transition, councilman sees open-government opportunity by Miranda Neubauer

Citing City Hall transition, councilman sees open-government opportunity

Ben Kallos, one of the Council's most active and outspoken members on issues involving data and technology, thinks that open-government advocates have a special opportunity at the moment. 

"When you have a new administration and a new mayor, [any revelation] from the data is somebody else's dirty laundry," he said. "Whatever you find, it's somebody's else problem, not the current mayor's."

On Monday, the Council technology committee, under chair James Vacca, will hold anoversight hearing on New York City's open data portal, with civic technology advocates expected to push for improvements to data quality and accessibility, which has also been a priority of Kallos.

Capital New York City Campaign Finance Officials on the Future of Online-Donation Tools by Miranda Neubauer

City Campaign Finance Officials on the Future of Online-Donation Tools

The New York City Campaign Finance Board plans to release an updated online campaign donation platform in mid-2015, board members testified before the City Council's government operations committee hearing Monday.

The new tool will make it easier for candidates to receive credit card donations and will also allow them to place donation widgets on their websites to accept donations.

Committee chair Ben Kallos emphasized that the use of text messaging and feature phones could be especially important to lower-income communities.

TechPresident In New York City and Silicon Valley, Local Government Innovation Gets Outside Help by Miranda Neubauer

In New York City and Silicon Valley, Local Government Innovation Gets Outside Help

But beyond the legislation to make future editions of the City Records, which goes into effect in one year, the city has also reached out to a group of civic technology and advocacy organizations to undertake an effort over the next year to make around 4,000 previous editions of the City Record from 1998 to the present, currently in PDF format, accessible in a comparable way.

Coordinating that effort are Noel Hidalgo and Chris Whong, executive director and co-captain, respectively, of New York City's Code for America brigade BetaNYC, which has pushed for the legislation along with sponsor City Council member Ben Kallos, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council member James Vacca and City Council member Brad Lander.