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This is a humble attempt to do what governments say you cannot do, which is have great ideas. The Toledo Public Schools are a perfect example of a district wishing to keep the public away, especially when it comes to providing good ideas. As we recently found out, they have even investigated people who have brought good ideas to the district. They need help and bad. The Dan Burns embezzelment scandal shows how clueless the district is and how much they have not fiscal controls. Where else could someone take close to a million dollars and no one bat an eye, not even to mention the investigations of citizens. Let's show them we do have ideas. The site took a 4 month break while I transitioned it over to a new CMS that would fight spam better. I was able to import a good number of the ideas, but go ahead and submit your own. You can also submit questions now also. Get busy participate, submit, vote and comment. It is your site.
Here is what I said when the site was originally launched 10/2006:
Today we are at the Business Technology Center a place where innovative companies such as Corillian and IPAYX which centered its operations trying to give Toledo a foot up in technology. IPAYX in particular has been ahead of everyone else in electronic bill delivery and it is great to have a company that is on the leading edge here in Toledo. Today I ask why can’t government be on the leading edge of engaging its citizens in using technology?
We are here today to announce http://ideasfortps.com. But this idea is not about technology, it is about people coming together to help out the district. I get frustrated when I hear some administration officials and some board members say that nothing else can be done to improve the budget. I took this as a challenge and started this site. To give the district credit they only have a few minds working on the problem of dealing with the budget issues and a few minds only have so much capacity for problem solving.
In the past year, technology and trends have changed. There has been a flurry of Web sites made popular by people coming together to share ideas, to network and to contribute their talents. Web sites like digg.com and youtube.com are sites where user rated popular stories or videos rise to the top. The OpenSource movement and Wikipedia are where people come together and contribute resources or knowledge for the betterment of a product or solution. This trend of the Internet facilitating people coming together to network and share is what is called the Internet 2.0. This inspired me to combine the ideas of the Internet 2.0 to help the society; we can call it Government 2.0.
In the spirit of Internet 2.0 I created ideasfortps.com. It is a forum for people to come together and submit ideas to the district. But it is interactive because users can comment on the ideas submitted and even rate the different items on how good of an idea they think it is.
Participation is needed. In order for this site to be successful, I need many minds coming together to comment, rate, and even submit their own ideas. Anyone with an Internet connection can do this, including, students in the district, staff, administrators, business employees and owners, or anyone that that cares enough about the district and wants to help out.
Now TPS can have 50, 500, or maybe even 5,000 minds working on their budget problems. The district will be better off for it as well as the city. And, maybe the district and other governments can learn a new way to dialog with residents and embrace the concept of Government 2.0 using the ideas behind the Internet 2.0.
Community ideas pay off. During my scouring of the Internet for ideas that other districts have implemented to save money to populate ideasfortps.com, I came across Tucson Unified, which through their BrightIdeas program have saved 2.1 million dollars from community suggestions. While Tucson is twice the size of TPS, significant savings can come from ideas submitted from the community. Currently on the site there is a buffet of ideas that total 10 million dollars on the site. Not all of them could be implemented, but I am hoping that more savings will be submitted once it is opened to a wider audience.
So, today I encourage anyone hearing this announcement to go and visit the Web site, comment and rate the ideas there or even submit your own. Together we can do this. Let’s show the district we do have good ideas. User privacy will be protected, so you have nothing to lose and everyone has everything to gain.
In closing, please help get the word out. Your assistance is important in making this project successful. Thank you.
I have expanded the site to also include questions, because I know there are a ton of those out there and will probably add more to the site as I get more time.
Some more on my thoughts on creating the site:
I need your help. To assist, go to the site http://www.ideasfortps.com and submit your idea. If you have some insight into the ideas on the site, feel free to comment and rate the ideas up there. You do not need to live in the district to participate and anyone with an Internet connection can help. The site is set up as sort of like a live workspace where the ideas can be hashed out in public, so the good ideas will shine through and the district will be able to implement them.
If you are an employee of the district, a teacher, a student or in the administration, submit your idea. If you are a business owner or you work in a profession where you come across money saving ideas, submit you idea. If you have a good idea and want everyone to know, submit it. You help is requested.
The Internet is the perfect medium to facilitate the collection ideas from the community and it is a new way for government to operate. Governments should not be afraid because there are many people willing to help out (as all of you already know). This site is an attempt to pool the knowledge that resides in our community to help the district out financially. I hope you can take some time to help.
Visit the Web site and submit your idea:
Thank you. It was also nice to meet Jr at the conference today. Thanks for coming!
Please distribute the URL for the site. In order for it to work we need many minds to the site as possible.
Most of this text was pulled from the Toledo Talk thread: