chrishaller's blog

Anatomy of an eMeeting

Over the last weeks I finally found the time to put together a video outlining our eMeetings using  the video footage we collected during our community workshops for the Routt County 2030 project. 

eParticipation and Cross-Media Participation Webinar

Today I was invited to host a webinar for the EBM Tools Network  talking about our civic engagement work. I boiled down the longer presentation I usually give to leave room for a very interesting Q&A session afterwards.


Play audio file to listen to a recording of the presentation >>

EveryBlock talks about their online maps

EveryBlock launched end of January as a geo-referenced news and data aggregation platform in San Francisco, New York and Chicago.

The site attempts to answer one deceptively simple question: “What’s happening in my neighborhood?” For EveryBlock, it boils down to three types of information: geographically-relevant news and blog entries, civic information, and “fun from across the web.” (via TechCrunch). 

They received over $ 1m in last years Knight Foundation News Challenge in competition with our iCommunity.TV.

Besides the huge potential and the interesting ambitions of this endeavor, their online maps caught my attention. Unlike most other spatial web applications, they didn't build a mashup using base layers from Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.


With Google Maps or any other web-based mapping service, we’d be limited to the color palette, typeface, and other design elements that service’s designers chose. While those maps can be handsome products, their choices aren’t our choices, and don’t mesh well with our site’s aesthetics. Additionally, maps are fundamentally layered — eg., a parks layer sits on top of a streets layer, which sits on top of a cities layer, and on down. Maps can be composed of many such layers, up to a dozen or more. The maps from Google Maps, however, don’t let us choose which layers we receive. They are “collapsed” down into a single image, one that is well-designed for general purpose, but one that includes layers we’re not interested in displaying.... (via their blog)


C470 Interactive Map launched - Worldkit / Drupal integration

My last project at CU last year just launched. It's a showcase project to demonstrate the use of an interactive mapping tool to gather expert and local knowledge about future growth in the region, in this case the ACCEA Project. 

We have constructed a policy-focused model to assess possible cumulative development effects related to the C-470 Corridor project.  The emphasis in this analysis is on the explicit definition of development rules which govern whether or not specific parcels are likely to be built out.  These rules are derived from review of local and regional policies.  Our design relies on readily available spatial data and models as well as interviews or focus group meetings with individuals involved in local development processes.  This interactive website could make the collection of feedback on existing data from developers, local experts and community members easier and more effective­.

We decided to use Worldkit again as the mapping platform. Since this was a project with a quick turnaround time, messing with a custom mapserver application didn't seem worth the time. Worldkit provided a simple mapping solution with a tiled base map for faster loading, zooming and panning and flash overlays. Unfortunately Google Maps integration is not on the development roadmap for Worldkit so future use is somewhat limited if this is a requirement. By integrating Worldkit with Drupal, we gained access to Drupal's great  set of features to quickly build a platform with different access levels, taxonomy, comment features, list building and export features.

Interested to see it live >>


eDemocracyCamp - a barcamp on e-democracy

March 1-2, 2008
Washington DC

This is the weekend immediately prior to Politics Online Conference 2008, March 4-5, 2008 (

What is a barcamp?  A barcamp is a free, open, and highly participatory conference/workshop, at which both the agenda and the content are completely attendee-driven (oftentimes in an ad hoc fashion the day of the event).  The barcamp movement started in 2005 in Palo Alto, CA, and barcamps are now being held all across the world.  Read this description on Wikipedia for more details and the history of this format:

Also check Tim's blog for updates

Off work, waiting for my Greencard...


Cross-media article in APA's Newsletter

I just had another publication about cross-media public participation published in the latest APA IT Division Newsletter >>

Yahoo Local adds community suggestion board feature

Yahoo just added a community suggestion board feature on its Local site for two California cities where citizens can post and deliberate about local issues.  People rate the suggestions, comment on them, subscribe to posts about particular issues and spread the word by printing flyers, adding events and forwarding posts to neighbors.


From "...for instance, on the Sacramento "Neighbors" site, people have suggested that the city needs more downtown gas stations, more urban farms, and a dog park. It turns out the Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen is seeking volunteers and a group is volunteering to help with painting projects.

The pilot test is also running for San Carlos, south of San Francisco. Following a three- to six-month trial, the feature will roll out nationally, Yahoo said.

"We're providing a forum for the community to air considerations," which ideally will lead to action, Frazier Miller, general manager of Yahoo Local, said on Wednesday. "We think people are very passionate about their local community. This is a Web 2.0 site for people to talk about local community issues."

It's interesting to see big players jump on the hyperlocal bandwagon. Also, I'm fascinated by the overlap with's Issues Forums. The interesting question will be: Is simply offering the right features enough to build community and to be heard by decision makers?

Citizen Superheroes - Social media and government

I like the way Tara Hunt pitches the advantages of the bottom-up Web2.0 to government in an entertaining way. Found over at Beth Kanter's blog.

First edition of Engage features article on cross-media public participation

The first edition of Engage, a Limehouse publication, features my article on cross-media public participation >>
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