The “Stackoverflow” Model for Local Government Knowledge Sharing

Posted on April 15, 2021

The Science Guy knows it!

Today’s Morning Buzz is brought to you by Ido Ivry, co-founder and CTO of Zencity, and a longtime fanboy of ELGL. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and sometimes even on Clubhouse.

What I’m Reading: Think Again: How to reason and argue by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong; it’s a book about how to argue more constructively, especially about politics – I find it very relevant in this day and age. 

What I’m listening to: mostly Zero7 on repeat as it’s my favorite working soundtrack.

One of the things I find most delightful about working with local government leaders is how collaborative they are. Since many jurisdictions share similar challenges and the number of solutions is sometimes limited, someone else has most likely thought about, created or procured a way to solve the task at hand. 

You see, in almost every local government forum I’m a member of (including the fun ELGL facebook group), not a week goes by without someone posting something like “I’m <someone> from <organization>, I’m looking to <solve some challenge> and I wonder if anyone has done this and can share best practices or materials”. And almost always they are immediately answered by people sharing documents, links to project documentation or just helpful advice. And since most local governments are transparent and in a friendly state of “coopetition” with other local governments, usually best practices, documentation and advice are shared out in the open.

This is why I’ve long wondered if there should be an open platform for collaboration for local government leaders. As I’m a software developer, the best thing I model my thoughts around is Stackoverflow

What’s Stackoverflow, you ask? Well – it’s a place for developers to ask questions, and for other developers to reply with answers, code snippets and useful advice. There may be multiple answers, and the question owner can accept an answer if it benefited them, but everyone can upvote (or downvote) both questions and answers. Oh, and everything is out in the open, searchable and with tags by topics. In time, Stackoverflow became something you just can’t write software without, as it contains answers to almost any question you can think of, it contains 21 millions questions, and roughly 100 million software developers visit the site every month. 

So, assuming my assumptions are correct, why shouldn’t there be a “Stackoverflow for cities”? a place for every person in local government to ask questions, share solutions (documents, policies, etc) and get (or dispense) helpful advice out in the open, and can serve as a place to store knowledge of the many people building government. 

Do you think it’s worth building? Does it already exist today and I just don’t know about it? Let me know! Think it’s a good idea and want to create this? shoot me a line on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn!

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