Cuyahoga County and the TAP initiative were highlighted at this year’s Transparency Camp, the Sunlight Foundation‘s annual unconference on transparency and open government.

Transparency Camp 2012 was a mashup of 450 hackers, bureaucrats, journalists and activists on April 28th-29th at George Mason University in Arlington, VA. Two days to discuss public policy, civic engagement, technology, and transparency.

Last year’s Transparency Camp helped inform and inspire the 2011 TAP (Transparency Action Plan) Summit on open government in Cuyahoga County. This year, Sunlight featured our local efforts by inviting Beth Sebian and Jeff Schuler to speak at the TCamp 2012 opening.

Beth and Jeff shared with the TCamp audience their stories of the TAP Summit, the County government’s strides toward transparency, and the developing partnership with Cuyahoga County. They shared optimism for the future of the relationship with the County and for Cleveland’s civic hacking community, and applauded Cuyahoga County CIO, Jeff Mowry, for his collaboration as well as his attendance at TCamp 2012.

Check out the video of TCamp’s opening session: (skip to 9:18 for Beth’s and Jeff’s talks.)

After the opening, orderly chaos ensued. The unconference format allows anyone to propose a topic and lead or facilitate a session around it. Through online voting and human curation, chosen sessions were slotted for one of the 13 rooms and five session periods per day, and participants voted with their feet.

Sessions ranged from political to technical on topics like legislation, data visualization, corporate influence, and linked data. A few sessions were presentation-style; most were ad-hoc or facilitated discussions involving all participants. DC food trucks provided lunch.

The second day began with speakers including White House CTO, Todd Park, then returned to unconference discussions, and finally closed with a session allowing participants to share their takeaways and next steps.

Some folks stuck around a third day for the Hackathon, where participants brainstormed and collaborated on ideas around/using the Voting Information Project (VIP.) Jeff Schuler worked with a Code for America fellow to build interactive documentation for the VIP’s application programming interface (API,) a service that allows programmers to build tools to access election and voting information.

TCamp 2012 offered an extraordinary wealth of ideas and opportunities to connect, and was itself a model of open and efficient participation. Jeff M., Beth, and Jeff S. all returned with ideas and inspiration they’re excited to share!

Get a feel for what TCamp 2012 was like — and get excited for TCamp 2013 — in this short video recap:


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