Civic Awesome: Open Data in the News for the Week of May 18, 2015

May 22, 2015 5:00 am PST | Data as a Service

This week the experts show how to make smart decisions with data, from leveraging building permit datasets to using caution with policing. Innovation also takes a front seat, in creating jobs and finding homes for worthy critters.

Algorithmia: Taking Cities’ Economic Temperature

In a guest post on, Algorithmia offers a refreshingly accessible route for gauging municipal economic health: Take cities’ open building permit data, and run it through analyses paired with local weather patterns, economic conditions, and more. This, Algorithmia explains, can help forecast how a city will be hit by different circumstances, including a recession or a rise in gas prices. Algorithmia notes the availability of individual pieces of this technology, and explains, “The secret here is that it is simple, composable, and fully automated.”

The EU’s Open Data Incubator

The Open Data Institute and seven European partners are leaping past hackathons and apps contests with Open Data Incubator Europe (ODInE), comments the University of Southampton in its ECS blog. Seeking proposals from startups throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, the partnership wants to leverage the economic engines within open government datasets. Startups can submit proposals in hopes of receiving up to €100 thousand in funding, “as well as mentors, peer networks, connections to investors, and media coverage.” The university’s Elena Simperl highlights how the phenomenal opportunity of ODInE, “gives companies the freedom to work on open data projects that matter to them, and to the society, using any technology, for no equity.”

Canada’s New Open Data Exchange

Canada is betting big on open data, with a new $3 million project, reports Shane Schick in IT World Canada. The federal government, “has been putting considerable investment in trying to spur innovation using datasets the government had once kept under wraps,” Schick explains. Officials hope the latest investment will create, “at least 15 new companies, hundreds of jobs, and valuable products and services that could help CIOs and other business decision-makers.” The Open Data Exchange is designed to expand nationwide, in partnership with Canadian Digital Media Network.

Obama: Less Call to Arms, More Call to Data

President Obama wants more cities to follow the example of Camden, New Jersey. With a 50 percent drop in homicides since 2012, reports Brentin Mock in, as well as involvement in the White House Police Data Initiative, Camden represents a bright spot in the news for municipal policing. “Under the data program, 21 police departments have elected to share information about police use of force,” explains Mock, including, “pedestrian and vehicle stops, officer-involved shootings, police behavior, and other datasets on law enforcement activity.”

Apps Challenge Winners: Where Are They Now?

One year after Palo Alto, California’s Apps Challenge, second place finisher AdoptMeApp has spread across the Bay Area and is getting traction from other counties and regions. The app helps animal shelters to share stories of adoptable pets across social media. It demonstrates the city’s success in, “designing and learning how to conduct a fun and engaging multi-month community apps competition,” say officials via the municipal portal. The government spreads its enthusiasm for the project through a new ebook, “The Apps Challenge Playbook.” In true open style, citizens and companies may freely download and distribute the ebook for all.

Previous Article
Data as a Service
ODTV Video of the Week: Solving a Public Problem With Open Data

May 22, 2015

Next Article
Data as a Service
Follow the Money: Financial Transparency Trifecta

May 21, 2015