Civic Awesome: Open Data News For July 25, 2014
This week’s top open data stories run the gamut. First, we’ll take a look at how one government is increasing its available open data. We counter this article with the second news item, where you may find some states that can improve their transparency. Finally, we’ll come to the private sector and see how it too has data to open for the public good, in addition to working to make government released data more user-friendly.
New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications announced this week that it would open 135 data sets in 2014 and an additional 100 in 2015 for public use. This is in addition to the more than 1,300 data set currently available on the City’s open data portal. Acting Chief Open Platform Officer Nicholas O’Brien said the update “demonstrates New York City’s commitment to government transparency and openness” and will continue to prove it is a pioneer in the movement.
Most of the open data we look at is generated by government bureaucracy and in some cases, the legislature. But what about the executive branch? While executive orders are less common than bills, they carry a great deal of weigh when it comes to government function. That’s why the Sunlight Foundation graded all 50 states on the accessibility of their executive orders. Don’t worry if your governor doesn’t get a passing grade, the post also contains recommendations on how to get your grade up.
So the government is moving towards open data, but private companies are collecting it too. What if, Harvard Business Review asks, private firms contributed data to the public as “data philanthropy” which could lead to the development of responsive cities and better academic research? The benefits could be huge, according to the article, as it has the potential to great accelerate the growth of smart cities and improve researchers access to bulk data.
Look at your city’s online zoning map (assuming you can fine one.) Presumably, you an tell where you can build a house or open a business, but can it tell you where you can operate an auto body shop versus a restaurant. Alex Howard takes a look at a couple of civic apps intended to remedy this roadblock. Speaking of which, the biggest issue with getting these maps up and usable is to take the municipal zoning codes and make them queryable. If such apps are successful, the hope is that more cities will move towards machine readable formats.