Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For December 19, 2014
It’s the time of year to give a little more. So Civic Awesome is giving you twice as many open data news stories as before! Truly, it’s been a remarkable week for open data in the US and around the world (which is why there are so many more articles to share.) Hope you enjoy our special gift. Wishing you happy (and open) holidays!
The US Senate announced it will publish the text and summaries of its legislation in machine-readable XML files. The Clerk of the House also announced additional information, such as nominees, statistics, and committee assignments, from that office will be also made available in machine-accessible formats. There are also improvements coming to online publication of the US Code, Congress.gov, and House Live.
As a response to the White House Innovation for Disaster Response and Recovery Initiative, the Obama administration launched a new website, disasters.data.gov. As the name suggests, the site features more than 100 disaster-related datasets, tools, apps, and information about participating in related challenges. The newly opened data can be sorted by disaster type, such as earthquake, server winter weather, or wildfires.
The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School has issued a set of recommendations to help federal agencies better communicate data to the media and interested citizens. Those ideas include: holding regular workshops with journalists, featuring data in more accessible ways (such as visualizations) for citizens who may not wade through long reports, build standardized user interfaces, which embrace responsive design, across government agencies.
The Sunlight Foundation claimed 2014 as a “year full of encouraging news on the open data front in states and municipalities” across the US. This year marked the adoption of numerous new open data policies, meaning the largest five cities in the country now have open data policies. There were also widespread wins for transparency, from New York City to California and up to the federal level with passage of the DATA Act.
Since it just passed December 16, it didn’t make the Sunlight Foundation report, but San Diego’s City Council unanimously passed an open data policy. The policy, which was developed by the city’s Open Data Advisory Group, will consolidate information into “user-friendly forms.” Chief Data Officer, Machismo Pecherskiy, said the city will start the process with a data inventory and could begin publishing data by July 2016.
Although he was appointed to the position on September 5th, it was announced this week that Chicago’s Director of Analytics, Tom Schenk, is now the Windy City’s Chief Data Officer. In addition to meeting the goals outlined in Chicago’s Open Data Report, Schenk said he will also focus on the release of a portfolio of research projects which “will help improve life in the city and efficiency in the government.”
Data which was previously only available for a fee and to a small number of insurance companies has been liberated for the public’s use by the UK’s Environment Agency (EA.) The data, available at the government’s open data port, data.gov.uk, includes real-time readings from river level sensors, as well as flood warning and alerts. EA hopes this release will “help local communities better protect themselves against the risks of flooding.”
Much like the Sunlight Foundation report above, the Open Knowledge Foundation has published its own 2014 Open Data Index measuring “the openness of data around the world.” OKF reports a slight drop in openness over last year. The UK scored the highest in the rankings, followed by Denmark and France. The US dropped from the number 2 slot to 8.
The organization, Apps for Europe, is holding a contest seeking the best open data applications and startups across the Continent. The winning app will receive “€5,000 and an invitation to Brussels to pitch for network partners and European Commission representatives.” Any project may enter, however, each app must use some form of European open data.