Civic Awesome: Open Data In The News For September 12, 2014
T-minus 3…2…1. Blast off! It’s been a week of launches in open data, including new data sets, portals, apps, and events. So, helmets on. Seat belts fastened. Here we go…
The government of Indonesia launched a national open data portal on September 5th in response to public demand for easily accessible government information. The initial release includes 700 data sets covering subjects such as procurement, education, economics, and health care. The country’s main partner in the portal’s launch is the World Bank, which has provided technical support and capacity building for Indonesia and 20 other countries through it’s Open Government Partnership initiative.
The UK’s national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey, announced Wednesday it will release data of every publicly accessible green space, including geographic features and boundaries, in England and Wales. The Ordnance Survey is hopeful that the newly released data will give rise to apps which help citizen connect with British parkland. Previously, the organization has provided business support and angel funding for the development of such products.
Surrey, Canada rolled out an umbrella app for any and all current apps, information, and news the city releases. The “My Surrey App” is freely available for iOS and Android and provides a single point of access to cycling routes, job listings, a citywide events calendar, and apps developed to help citizens recycle and connect with the library. In addition, Surrey announced that in the near future, it will launch an open data platform with at least 300 data sets.
Thanks to promotion from organizations such as the White House, IBM, and Kickstarter, the number of new and “in development” apps leveraging open data to increase awareness of climate change and disaster response is on the rise. The benefit of personalized climate change applications is that they make abstract concepts more compressible for users. While these apps are improving understanding, their developers still face challenges, such as a lack of data standardization, government “gray data” (which is half opened and half closed,) and a morass of jargon and acronyms.
Buffalo Open Data and numerous partner organizations announced plans to hold a “civic app symposium” on September 27th. It is not a hackathon, but a free event where the public can learn about software developed to address community issues, trends in open data, and available local datasets. In addition, incubator organizations will be available to discuss resources for developers looking to launch civic minded startups.