Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For October 24, 2014
This week, Civic Awesome takes a page from your high school yearbook, specifically, the superlatives page. You remember that, right? Most likely to succeed, best dressed….all the stuff that really mattered when you are 18.
Well, if you are an open data lover (like we are at Socrata) these superlative open data news stories from the past week will certainly be more meaningful than who had the most school spirit way back when.
The US Agency for International Development, America’s leading agency dedicated to combating global poverty and enabling democracy, announced it will begin opening data sets and tools to the public through a centralized portal. The policy liberating USAID data calls for data sets to be in a machine-readable formats and for the creation of several “data stewards” who will be responsible for overseeing the opening of the data.
In New York, on October 18th, civic technologist and representatives from all three levels of government came together for the Ebola Open Data Jam, “to help counter the outbreak using data collection and analysis.” Projects coming out of the jam included mapping areas effected by Ebola, ideas for using cell phones for contact tracing, or using phones to disseminate and collect information in the field.
Alex H. Hill, a graduate student at Wayne State, gathered and visualized ethnic data about the private and nonprofit organizations working to revitalize Detroit’s economy. Hill’s sample data reveal that approximately 70% of those leading the recovery efforts are white, nearly 24% are black, 5% are Asian, 1.6% are Latino, and less than 1% are Arab. Hill’s analysis also breaks down the overall race data by leadership, ideas, and startups. You can see his full
As an expansion on the Obama administration’s Open Government Initiative, the White House is launching a new website which clarifies its approach to open data and offers free code for federal agency software developers. These improvements were announced by Nick Sinai, CTO of OSTP, at a recent government data transparency conference.
Best Call to Action
Socitm, a UK-based organization whose members are IT professionals delivering public benefit, issues a report on the necessity for local governments to offer digital services. While the report calls for (the perhaps expected) need to “adapt legacy and off-the-shelf IT, share data and analytics, and embrace open APIs,” Socitm also recognized the need for cultural change to meet these ends. To help with that shift, the report also outlines three principles for adoptions; focusing on the user and giving them ownership of data; standardizing and simplifying services across devices, and sharing infrastructure and staff to cut costs.