Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For January 30, 2015
At Socrata, we can hardly think of anything that makes us happier than seeing the open data bandwagon picking up a head of steam and new riders along the way. And by that measure, today’s open data news has us over the moon. Let’s take a look at all the launches and progress that’s happened in open data this week. We hope it delights you, too.
On Wednesday, South Africa’s second most populous city, Cape Town, launched its open data platform. Mayor Patricia de Lille said making government data publicly available was critical for Cape Town to stay competitive “in today’s knowledge economy” and as part of the city’s commitment to transparency and accountability. At launch, 25 datasets were on the portal, including information regarding parks, transportation, and municipal contracts.
Open data isn’t just for big, international cities. The town of College Station, Texas announced this week it will provide its citizens with easier access to government data. Although the plans are long term, over time, College Station will release data currently available only by request and centralize information now scattered over numerous municipal websites.
The City of Newark, New Jersey will build an open data repository for “non-sensitive city data” in partnership with Rutgers University—Newark. The open data site will include data collected from 311 calls, property ownership records, and permits. Concurrently, the University’s Center for Information Management, Integration and Connectivity will also develop a mobile-application allowing Newark’s citizens to report non-emergency issues, as well as receive “police tips, current news, and local information.”
Also joining the open data ranks is Minneapolis, Minnesota, which now offers crime, 311, property, air quality, revitalization and other municipal data via opendata.minneapolismn.gov. The city’s adoption of open data was spurred on by a handful of local community organizations including Open Twin Cities, which plans to host hackathons and other opportunities for citizen engagement and civic collaboration now that Minneapolis has an open data platform.
Early last year, the Maryland State Legislature passed an open data law, which among other (perhaps obvious) things created a Council on Open Data to oversee the law’s roll out. That Council is now going back to the Legislature and recommending a 1992 law which allows state agencies to charge for GIS mapping products be amended so that this information is made freely available online. It is not yet known if the Legislature will agree with the Council that the two laws are in, at least philosophical, conflict with each other.