There are a million stories in the gov tech space. And in an effort to capture more of them, a startup called the Department of Better Technology (DOBT) launched a podcast on May 12 called Rewiring Government. With a focus on the details around a broad range of gov tech projects and policy areas, podcast episodes will serve as a prism through which IT leaders can gain new insights.
Joshua Goldstein, co-founder and CEO of DOBT, explained what separates this podcast from others in the market.
“Not just in podcasts, but in the content space overall, there seems to be a focus on the higher-level policy — open government, these sorts of important ideas," he said. "But we wanted to really focus on implementation and getting the stories from folks at the front lines who sort of combine that ‘ah-ha moment’ of ‘this is a great idea’ with ‘here’s how to get this out as a product or a service.’ And those are the stories we realize that even though we live and breathe this stuff, we don’t really know all of them.”
The podcast’s first episode features Justin Erlich, the Data and Technology Advisor to California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who talks about a criminal justice transparency initiative called OpenJustice, the evolving role of data in government, and digital service delivery.
Erlich said the OpenJustice initiative began with the release of a few important data sets around arrest rates, law enforcement officers killed or assaulted, deaths in custody, and arrest-related deaths.
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Listeners can subscribe to the podcast’s feed via Libsyn. The podcast will also be available through iTunes and Google Play soon.
"We tried to look at those data points while also pulling in important contextual data, like the demographics and population of the cities in which these incidents were happening, in order to really get a sense of the full story," he said in the podcast. "I think we’re just starting to see that there are some real problem areas in certain jurisdictions that need a closer look. But I think there’s another story too: A lot of jurisdictions are doing what cops are supposed to be doing, helping increase public safety and doing the job they signed up for. The real value of using this data is gaining a real understanding of where we should focus more deeply.
The 25-minute episode is housed at the DOBT website, alongside a written transcript.
There is a loose schedule to publish new episodes once or twice a month, Goldstein said, with content slightly biased toward digital service delivery, but covering a wide range of topics. Many of the first guests are to include the Presidential Innovation Fellows and the Code For America fellows who helped build the gov tech world over the last few years.
“The criteria for me is, ‘Does this project improve people’s lives?’” Goldstein said.
The second episode, not yet released, will feature Rachel Lunsford, former product manager for the Blue Button at the Department of Veterans Affairs.