chrishaller's blog

Google Maps and Privacy Issues

Well, talking about privacy issues on the internet is one thing, being able to see your bosses contribution to John Kerry a good, but different one. Spatial applications on the web are huge, but this scares the heck out of me. Straight from

    Mathew Kane, a doctoral student in the Indiana University School of Informatics, has generated an interesting Google mashup.

    He extracted publicly available donor information from the non-profit Fundrace Project, an "online resource that details and maps donors' information derived from records on file with the Federal Election Commission from the 2004 elections," and made it mappable at the individual donor level.

    The point of the project (press release here)was to expose data that people consider private, but is actually partof the public record. All you have to do is key in a ZIP Code andyou'll get a map showing those who donated there. Click on a pin andyou'll get the donor's name, address, amount given, and to which 2004presidential candidate.


This is my last day at, which is now the tools program of the Orton Family Foundation, while I am heading back to Germany on Sunday. Sounds like a good day to start blogging...

Orton Virtual Visit

I recently visualized Ortons projects in 2005, some of which I have been involved in, through Google Earth:

Technologically speaking, Google Earth may be one of the best recent examples of "innovation in place" available in the public domain. Described as "a 3D interface to the planet," Google Earth provides a powerful interactive platform for exploring and understanding the places where we live.

Taking advantage of this new, free technology, we have set up the Orton Virtual Visit within Google Earth to allow you to "fly" from project site to project site, view from above their topography and land use patterns and simultaneously access related project information from our website. We believe this feature provides a unique perspective on the nature and scale of today's land use challenges. And besides, it's a lot of fun.

In my eyes a great way to present work with a spatial dimension.

eParticipation in Germany - Study

My friends at Zebralog just published the second study on the state of online participation in Germany:

Today, the Initiative for eParticipation has released its secondstudy on citizen participation over the internet. As last year, Berlinshowed the best eParticipation record, Freiburg and Munich made a bigstep forward.

The study analyzed the websites of all 83German cities above a population of 100.000. A ranking system wasapplied that rewarded points if cities offered comprehensible andcomprehensive information on current political issues, if politicaldecision makers could be addressed through the web, and if citizenswere invited for deliberation through discussion forums or chats. Theusablity of such participatory projects as well as their integrationinto political decision making processes was of primary importance.Coder's agreement on their assessment of the cities' websites rangedbetween 88 and 100%.

The results show that German cities haveimproved their eParticipation record compared to last year's study.However, the large majority of German cities still has not attempted toconsult citizens over the internet. Berlin ranked highest because(among other reasons) the city provides a citizen discussion space onits main portal, carried out a couple of online dialogues on townplanning issues and had a participatory budgeting project in one of itsboroughs (Lichtenberg) where citizens could take part online as well.

The study is available for donwload in German at

eDemocracy Workshop

Just came back from the Building eDemocracy Workshop at OSU in Columbus Ohio, where I was invited to present on visualization tools for public participation. My presentation can be downloaded here.
We experienced a new tool for live online collaboration, that supports America Speaks participation model.
Also Alexandra Samuels wrote up the outcomes of one of the workshops, on how to structure online deliberation in a way that promotes civil dialogue.
Here is the synopsis:
1. Keep your goal visible.
2. Keep your rules visible.
3. Use moderation effectively

CPC Conference

Wow, back from a great, but exhausting conference, the CPC Community Planning Collaborative on tools for planning, that PlaceMatters/Orton organizes every year. Not only did we organize a conference, we tied with a planning challenge in Orlando, the Innovation Way corridor (about the size of Portland).

Obviously draining our energy, but I came back with a lot of great impressions and experiences.

I held a presentation on open source tools for eparticipation, my first one in English, and added an extra kick by being late. But it went well and a great discussion followed.

And we tested a new groupware system, that expands the traditional form of a mapping exerciseby capturing all submissions georeferenced via wirelessly networkedcomputers. This enabled us to sort and group issues for the report out,as well as displaying the results online, and potentially contributingonline. What strikes me is the possibility of actually doing this type of exercise simultaniously, in a face-to-face meeting and online. Or why not continue the discourse for a couple of days, after kicking it off in a meeting.

Definitely lots of food for thought.

Syndicate content
Syndicate content