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Today in OpenGov: Pokémon goes to Washington

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 16:10
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(Before It's News)

By The Sunlight Foundation

POKING DC: The Pokémon Go augmented reality game has become wildly popular since introduced on July 5, leading to unexpected public interactions and some poor decisions. (Please don’t play in the Holocaust Museum.) The success has people like Melody Kramer thinking about what journalists can learn from Pokémon Go. Micah Sifry also highlighted at Civicist:

There also may be ways to augment this data collection with more information that might be potentially very helpful in the aggregate. For instance, could Pokémon Go players track and report potholes in a city? Could they track air quality? Could an augmented reality program say: “You’re in this spot where X thing happened. Would you like to do Y? Would you like to sign up for Z?” (And then how might those actions be facilitated?) Or: “You’ve looked for X creature at 7 p.m. at City Hall. Did you know there’s a City Council meeting taking place here tomorrow night?”

In that vein, cartoonist Kris Traub made what at first glance seems like both a weird and potentially…good idea?

As always, let us know what you think. (Facebook and Twitter didn’t start out to be tools for transparency, accountability and civic engagement, either.)

C-SPANNING THE ISSUES: Sunlight’s John Wonderlich joined Washington Journal to talk about government transparency. You can watch at or in the video embedded below.

STATUS QUO: This week, “the House of Representatives voted down an amendment to the financial services and general government appropriations bill that would’ve boosted the IRS’ ability to regulate political dark money and rein in unaccountable spending on elections.” And so it goes. [READ MORE]


  • The U.S. House of Representatives passed the TALENT Act by a vote of 409-8, which would codify the Presidential Innovation Fellows program into law. We hope the Senate rapidly follows.

    House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke about the bill on the floor of the House prior to the vote.

  • An unnamed Senator has put a hold on the nomination of Carla Hayden for Librarian of Congress. [Politico]
  • It turns out that some U.S. Supreme Court Justices do email, after all. [Vice]
  • Twitter is partnering with CBS going to livestream the conventions of both the Republican and Democratic parties this month, from gavel to gavel. [Politico]
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on FOIA at Fifty.
  • The USDA will begin to publish location-specific open food safety data about slaughter and processing facilities. []

State and Local

  • The Chicago Reporter published a database of misconduct complaints about Chicago police officers and related settlements. The interactive is sourced from the open data published by the City of Chicago’s Law Department. [Chicago Reporter]
  • Even if it doesn’t lead to indictments, video can bring more attention, activism and ultimately reform of police departments, argues Ethan Zuckerman. [Tech Review]
  • The New York Times editorial board called for more public debate and disclosure regarding the use of robots by police departments. Good idea. [New York Times]
  • California’s New Motor Voter Act is set to dramatically alter the demographics of the electorate of the Golden State, according to a new report. [Washington Post]
  • The Colorado town that South Park was modeled on told media that using cellphones and laptops to copy election records is prohibited by law. (They aren’t.) [CFOIC]
  • Sunlight participated in a Twitter Town Hall with What Works Cities today. [Storify]


  • Austrian State Secretary Duzdar awarded prizes in the Austrian government’s open data challenge. “The category “Idea” was won by “23⁰ – die Welt in Zahlen” with an idea of mapping numerical data, the best Dataset was found in “Bedarfsverkehre in Österreich” on public transport and the best Solution was presented by “Wave” which uses Open Data to give spoken answers on questions about the city.” [European Data Portal]
  • Bianca Wylie highlighted some ways that Toronto could learn from the examples of other cities in improving how it releases and uses open data. [Torontoist]

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We want to find and share the most important stories about open government around the world from the past 24 hours here. To do that, we’ll need YOUR help. Please send your tips and feedback at [email protected]. If you would like suggest an event, email us by 7 am on the Monday prior to the event.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization that uses the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency, and provides new tools and resources for media and citizens, alike.


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