Civic Awesome: Open Data News for July 11, 2014
Czars? Floods? Infographics? Yes, this week’s roundup of top open data news stories has them all!
The Wall Street Journal sits down for an interview with Gavin Starks, founding CEO of the Open Data Institute about big data, how to open it and what economic and civic benefits. Starks says, “Governments, cities, and corporates have for years made decisions based on computer modeling. It’s a black box. Public services commission computer modeling agencies to delve into the data and work out what the impacts of different scenarios might be on a change in services. All of that process takes place in a black box. You can’t really do smart cities without open data.”
Using satellite data released by NASA, scientist are now able to predict which rivers will flood. Currently, the method is being used to look back at past floods, but the hope is to be able to forecast floods one to two months before they happen. The process is somewhat hampered by the lag in retrieving data from the satellites, but NASA is working to cut down the delivery time from three months to 15 days.
This might not be the world’s most attractive infographic, but it is highly informative. In 2010, the White House required 29 federal agencies to submit open government plans by June 1st of this year. Most, but not all, have complied. This post illustrates who’s done their homework and who can expect a demerit.
GovLab kicked off its Open Data Roundtable meetings, the first effort to connect federal agencies to private companies using their data. The Roundtable should help the national government find out who is using their data, as well as aid the users in requesting additional information. There are some universal requests out of the first meeting, including making bulk data availability to the private sector in a machine-readable format, calling for data consistency, and providing a single platform to access government data.
OpenCorporates, the world’s largest open database of companies, is launching, #FlashHacks, an effort to crowdsource the scraping of government websites to extract data and crack PDFs. While the open data community is expected to lead the way in creating scraping alogrithms, OpenCorporates says this is also a great project for developers newer to open data who have less than an hour a day to dedicate to “help change the world.” Initially, the campaign targets data sets which have been requested by NGOs partnered with OpenCorporates, although other organizations are welcome to suggest government data sets, as well.