Civic Awesome: Open Data in the News for the Week of June 8, 2015

June 12, 2015 12:30 pm PST | Data as a Service

In small-town Spain, performance management takes flight with Twitter, while hackers, Socrata, and Obama back the tools and trends that are transforming government. Plus: Philly spills the parking ticket truth.

Tiny Town Delivers Big on Performance Measurement

“Today, in some areas, government leads the way and private enterprise should be taking notes,” comments Edwin Bos in He shares the story of Jun, Spain, which bases its entire government communication system around Twitter. Wondering how that works? Here’s one example: “A resident spotted that a street light was no longer working,” and tweeted the council. Four minutes later the light had been fixed, with a photo tweeted as proof. Bos identifies five big wins from Jun’s rapid, completely open communication system and other instances of government enterprise, including how “open data creates a living ecosystem.”

Hacking for Change

The newly formed Hack Cleveland tackled a big, life-changing topic: use-of-force guidelines in the police department of Cleveland, Ohio, reports Nikki Delamotte in Organizers realized the community and municipal government lacked tools for civic engagement, so set hackathon challenges around developing apps for communication and accountability. Delamotte said organizer Daniel Brown calls Hack Cleveland the perfect way to take action on “these diverse ideas about what justice and solutions should look like.” Organizers hope to make Hack Cleveland a regular event. “We can do better than dating apps or apps that race to see how fast my food can be delivered,” Delamotte quoted organizer Aliya Rahman. “We can solve bigger problems.”

Winner: Santa Monica’s Open Data Initiative

The Public Technology Institute awarded Santa Monica a Technology Solutions Award for championing “Transparency, Collaboration and Third Party Applications Through Open Data,” states the The city’s Open Data Initiative culminates in the Santa Monica Open Data Portal, powered by Socrata. The portal covers six categories — finance, permits & licenses, public assets, public safety, public services, and transportation — as well as featured datasets on police services, the Santa Monica Urban Forest, and more.

Transparent Policing Takes Over

“Crime data transparency is varied across the nation,” reports Colin Wood in More than 20 law enforcement agencies attended the recent White House Roundtable on Technology and Data Innovations for Transparency and Accountability in Policing, with a goal of improving public relations in their communities. The Louisville, Kentucky, police department followed up with action, by releasing datasets on hate crimes, citations, and assault-on-officer incidents — in line with President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Organizers at the White House hope more police departments join the effort. As Wood notes, “The future of policing will lie in the implementation of recommended policies undertaken — or not — by the leaders of each city.”

Are Parking Tickets Fair? You Decide

Philadelphia’s parking violations are now online, searchable, and downloadable, thanks to a new partnership between the city and Socrata. The tool includes “the date, time, location, and description of the violation, as well as the issuing agency,” reports Over 4.8 million tickets issued over three years are available. Mayor Michael A. Nutter states, “We are proud to reinforce our commitment to transparency and open government by publishing parking violation data online.”



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