Transparency Through Technology Conference Draws Interest.

Transparency Through Technology Conference Draws Interest

More than 65 transparency advocates, government workers, journalists and librarians gathered in Lynnwood on March 29 for the Washington Coalition on Open Government’s Transparency Through Technology conference.

Panelists and speakers addressed how digital technology and records management software can be used to facilitate transparent government, through proactive disclosure of high-interest records and digitized archives.

The event kicked off with a question-and-answer session from Matthew Morisy, co-founder of MuckRock, a nonprofit organization seeking to make public records more understandable and accessible in the digital age.

Morisy said one of his hopes was to teach a new generation of people the importance of openness in government, and re-envision a public records process designed for the 21st century.

“How can we get the broader public understanding the benefit of transparent government? Because I think it’s something people have taken for granted for a long time,” he said.

He also praised Washington’s relative openness and strong public records laws. In some states, “it’s a culture of trying to figure out how to deny your request,” he said.

Keynote speaker and Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman spoke about her office’s efforts to digitize and preserve records, including the state corporations database, and said cybersecurity is an ongoing concern and challenge for her office.

Wyman’s favorite record that’s rarely used? Historic maps, available through the state’s digital archives, she said.

On panels, journalists and records officers stressed the importance of reaching out and building relationships when trying to access records.

The conference was sponsored by Exterro, with additional support from NextRequest, Archive in a Box, Davis Wright Tremaine, Clark Raymond & Co., Cedar Grove, Toby Nixon and The Seattle Times.

— Rachel Alexander