KNC13 OPENGOV | OPEN BS DETECTOR: Baffle-speak sensing and contextualization | Knight News Challenge

OPEN BS DETECTOR | Baffle-speak sensing and contextualization

Short URL: http://j.mp/skknc13obsd

Twitter: @OpenBSDetector

Public officials too often rely on rote phrases devoid of real meaning (baffle-speak) when answering questions of public interest. Open BS Detector spots the sound bites, logs, tracks and alerts about them, and offers useful information and context.

THE TASK
Citizens and journalists need to be able to more quickly and easily discern fact from fiction or misdirection in statements by their politicians and public officials, put those statements in context, and get accurate facts to make informed decisions and take action.

SOLUTION
Open Baffle-Speak Detector will parse those comments and answers to questions, compare them to a historical record by the individual on a topic, and return statistical information, as well as verified facts to the individual seeking a better understanding of a subject and an official’s approach to it.

IMPLEMENTATION
Open Baffle-Speak Detector will have three modes to enable people to identify and contextualize the accuracy, veracity and utility of officials’ statements:

  1. A browser plug-in for use on news articles, online transcripts and other text or Web pages.
  2. Voice-recognition/transcription and a Shazam-like mode for real-time assessment.
  3. A photo/facial recognition and/or augmented reality function that enables the user to easily identify the individual, their track record and overall baffle-speak score.

Our preliminary research discussing this idea among people in the open government movement, journalism, and technologists has been met with enthusiasm. The technology to do this exists or is in development in other arenas, and simply needs to be brought together for an end-to-end, easy experience rather than a patchwork that results in a laborious series of tasks, or a lack of capability in this particular sphere. We plan to collaborate with as many developers of existing projects, tools and technologies as possible.

SIMILAR PROJECTS AND COLLABORATION OPPORTUNITIES
The Truth Goggles, Lazy Truth, Super PAC App, and Churnalism projects are a few examples of similar ideas with different applications and approaches. They focus on parsing text or standardized data. None handle live, real-time input. Open Baffle-Speak Detector will stitch these approaches together for a robust, on-demand tool that works in live situations.

CURRENT STATUS
We have not commenced development on Open Baffle-Speak Detector, but have had initial contacts with people working on other and related projects. We will collaborate and build on Truth Goggles, Hyperaudio and other projects as much as possible to avoid duplicating work.

TEAM
Saleem Khan: Project leader, journalist [editor and reporter, ex- CBC, Metro International, Toronto Star newspapers; chairman/director, Canadian Association of Journalists]; advisor, University of Toronto ThingTank Lab [Faculty of Information]; founder, invstg8.net.

Collaborators & Advisors:
M. Boas: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Hyperaudio leader, jPlayer HTML5 media library project coordinator, open Web developer.
L. Gridinoc: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Creative technologist specializing in computational linguistics, semantic Web, and visual analytics.
P. Hunter: Over 20 years designing productive interactions between people and technology; expertise in speech recognition, software tools, and education; Fellow in the Leading by Design program at California College of the Arts; veteran of three start-up businesses; currently at Microsoft.
K. Kaushansky: Two decades specializing in speech recognition, voice user interface design, interactive audio experiences, speaker verification, and voice biometrics at startups and global technology firms, including Nortel and Microsoft. Currently at Jawbone.
K. Khan: User experience strategist and designer consulting to governments and Global 1000 corporations, OCAD University sLab advisor; leader of UXI, Canada’s largest UX professionals group.
H. Leson: Director of community engagement, Ushahidi; open source community developer, library and information technician.
M. Saniga, CA: Co-founder, near-realtime business intelligence/data insight generation software firm Quant Inc.; former finance director and manager at Cara, Dell.

FUNDING AND TIMELINE
We anticipate that Open Baffle-Speak Detector will gain interest and uptake among civic development and open government foundations, news organizations, and real-time intelligence companies and investors which would continue to fund development and custom or applications-specific versions.

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY
Open Baffle Speak Detector is a tool that empowers citizens to identify when public officials give rote vs. real answers in their statements, and adds verified factual context.

LOCATION
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

KNC13 OPENGOV | OPENLYNX: Streamlined citizen information tool | Knight News Challenge 2013

One of my entries for the 2013 Knight News Challenge for OpenGov [open government]:

OPENLYNX | Streamlined question, routing and information tool for citizens to get access to public-held information

OpenLynx enables citizens to submit information queries and receive responses via low-bandwidth communication technologies accessible with basic mobile phones — such as text and SMS messages, e-mail and a lean/mobile Web site — to enable everyone to gain access to civic information otherwise unavailable to them.

THE TASK
Access to civic information, resources and services are limited by knowledge of methods, and access technology, which can put government out of reach of some citizens. OpenLynx aims to surmount those barriers by making it easy to connect to government.

SOLUTION
OpenLynx will enable citizens to submit a question or information request, and receive an automated reply with the requested information, or have the request routed to the most appropriate government official for a response. In cases where access to information is restricted, OpenLynx will enable people to submit a freedom-of-information request, or contact a journalist to propose a story or investigation, even from a basic mobile phone.

IMPLEMENTATION
OpenLynx will allow citizens to submit civic information requests via:

  1. Text or SMS
  2. Web
  3. Smartphone app.

All of these modes will be processed through a single engine that will draw on a database of common questions and responses to automatically respond, or pass on the request to a person if the answer is not readily available.

SIMILAR PROJECTS AND COLLABORATION OPPORTUNITIES
A preliminary search has not revealed anyone taking this particular approach to public information requests, although some municipalities have a 311 information service. There are open source dispatch and support ticket software projects that we could build on, but nothing we could use “out of the box” with only cosmetic or minor modification. We anticipate being able to collaborate with the invstg8.net project, which is already building a flat request-and-answer system. We have been in touch with FOIAMachine about collaborating on providing the FOI function, and Document Cloud as another source of information.

CURRENT STATUS
A proof-of-concept of the question submission, parsing, assessment, routing, handling and response engine is in development as part of the invstg8.net project. We anticipate having access to a demonstration version of a proof-of-concept engine by early summer.

TEAM
Saleem Khan: Project leader, journalist [editor and reporter, ex- CBC, Metro International, Toronto Star newspapers; chairman/director, Canadian Association of Journalists]; advisor, University of Toronto ThingTank Lab [Faculty of Information]; founder, invstg8.net.

Collaborators & Advisors:
M. Boas: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Hyperaudio leader, jPlayer HTML5 media library project coordinator, open Web developer.
L. Gridinoc: OpenNews Fellow 2012. Creative technologist specializing in computational linguistics, semantic Web, and visual analytics.
K. Khan: User experience strategist and designer, OCAD University sLab advisor; leader of UXI, Canada’s largest UX professionals group
H. Leson: Director of community engagement, Ushahidi; open source community developer, library and information technician.
M. Saniga, CA: Co-founder, near-realtime business intelligence/data insight generation software firm Quant Inc.; former finance director and manager at Cara, Dell.

SUSTAINABILITY AND FUNDING
We anticipate that OpenLynx will gain interest and uptake among governments seeking to improve engagement with citizens and reduce costs, civic development and open government foundations, news organizations, transparency groups, and any company or organization with an interest in gaining access to government information quickly and easily. We believe the tool would also have application to customer relations and community management by for-profit enterprises, which may lead to customized for-profit versions that could help to fund development of the public-interest tool.

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY
OpenLynx empowers citizens to gain access to government information and services irrespective of their skill at navigating government channels or access to technology.

LOCATION
Toronto, Ontario, Canada