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From: David M.
Sent on: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 11:58 AM
Hi BetaNYC, David w/ the non-profit Participatory Politics Foundation here. 

We're excited to announce that our next major project,, will launch this Monday, February 10th :: 

... AskThem is a free & open-source questions-and-answers platform with elected officials at every level of government: federal, state, and city. AskThem is non-profit & non-partisan, with open data for informed communities.

Yesterday, we announced 62 elected officials nationwide who have signed-up to respond to public questions, see them here :: 

... including NYC #opengov leaders ::

  • Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, our great #opendata advocate 

  • NYC Council member Ben Kallos, civic technologist & new chair of Gov Ops cmte.

  • NYC Council member Brad Lander, co-chair of Progressive Caucus & Participatory Budgeting Caucus (such an exciting project, #PBNYC) 

... thank you to all of them & their offices, we're grateful to have their participation as leaders in responsive government. Some of our NYC home team are really pushing things forward, I'm so glad to be working with Gale, Ben & Brad.

One writeup from Azi P. of Capital this morning, good summary :: 

Before launch, our primary ask for the BetaNYC community is to forward this to your NYC council members, and encourage them to join the over 62 other leaders nationwide who have signed-up to respond to popular questions. On our open-source, open-data, non-profit platform! Any NY elected official, at any level of government, can join our effort - there's no cost and no contract, working towards online dialogue for the public benefit. Sign up here ::  

... participating electeds simply agree to respond to one or two questions per month that reach the signature threshold for their jurisdiction, with a significant number of signatures coming from their constituents. They'll receive a verified check mark on AskThem, be featured in our outreach as leaders in responsive government, and will be able to reach more people who signed questions to them through AskThem email alerts when they respond to a question. 

The White House's "We The People" petition platform has succeeded in prompting over 8 million people to sign-on to issues they support and want to see addressed, helping improve public trust in government. We believe a crowdsourced question platform should exist for every public figure, and now we've built it for every U.S. elected official as a free public service. 
Public Q&A is the next focus in PPF's #opengov work, since 2007 - our previous flagship project was, with over 27 million visits and 300,000 registered users.

Few more technical details of interest, re: our unique value :: 

  • We believe AskThem is the first open-source web app to offer visitors access to official government data for 142,000 elected officials nationwide at every level of government, from Sens. Schumer & Gillibrand down to NYC Council & everyone in-between. 

  • Also, we believe AskThem is the first open-source app to support geolocation of elected officials, down to the municipal level, from a visitor's street address. See everyone who represents you in one place. 

  • What's more, we believe AskThem is the first community Q&A site to integrate open government data (such as city council agendas & key vote information) to help inform "good questions" of municipal elected officials. 

If you'd like to see a preview of AskThem before we launch on Monday, just email me back - [address removed] - and you can be among the first to ask a question of your mayor or city council members. 

But most importantly, please help us spread the word that we're launching this free & non-profit platform for city residents to stay in continual, structured dialogue with their municipal government. We'd love for more city #opengov leaders to sign up before Monday, and thereafter. Get in touch with your NYC council member

Call anytime, questions & feedback welcome. Excited to get this out and see what questions people ask of Mayor de Blasio (we have a question page for him too, as we do for every elected official) and your city council members, who we hope will all (why not!) sign up to respond - surfacing community issues, municipal priorities, public accountability, running policy ideas up the chain of government, getting to know the people who represent us better. 


... sample Q attached to Brad Lander, verified responder on AskThem. 

Participatory Politics Foundation
m: (917)[masked]
AIM / Skype :: davidmooreppf 

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