Civic Awesome: Open Data in the News for the Week of March 9, 2015
Another week, another round-up of big news from the world of open data! Check out the list of our favorite news stories from the week and leave a comment letting us know what you think.
Economists working hard to open up access to government data keep encountering roadblocks, reports Ben Casselman in FiveThirtyEight.com. The “legal, bureaucratic and practical hurdles,” range from the different and non-compatible ways birth certificates are recorded state-by-state, to federal laws that prevent the IRS from sharing information with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An even bigger obstacle, though, may be privacy concerns about government tracking of citizens. Casselman details previous efforts to open up federal data, and the public backlash that came over fears of government intrusion. Due to the numerous obstacles, many American economists end up conducting their research overseas, using other countries’ datasets.
The University of North Carolina (UNC) has gathered together the basics about open data in its, “A Citizen’s Guide to Open Government, E-Government, and Government 2.0.” Citizens wanting to understand the open data movement, and open data newbies wanting to find a bigger community, can tap into the guide to start learning about terms and trends. More importantly, the guide offers a global open data roundup, with links to blogs like Ariel Hampton’s “Wired to Share,” to open data portals like Data.gov – along with the latest in transparency initiatives and open data events.
Liz Carolan, International Development Manager at the Open Data Institute, worked alongside officials in Ouagadougou, the nation’s capital, “to develop a strategic plan for the next phase of Burkina Faso’s open data initiative,” she posted in FT.com. Long considered one of West Africa’s most stable countries, Burkina Faso made big news in October 2014, with its 36-hour popular uprising that ousted longtime president Blaise Campaore from office. With elections slated for October 2015, Burkina Faso is betting on open data to make the elections open, inclusive, and real. Officials hope to reverse the country’s historically low voter turnouts, with straightforward steps such as making open data applications for polling locations. Officials are also interested in creating an election portal updated immediately as results are reported across the country.
Open data can be fun, as Berlin shows the world with its new free download of its 3D City Model. Aerial photographs of approximately 550,000 buildings covering 890 km² measured in order to create the dataset. Anyone from city planners to game developers to interested citizens can download the model, part of Berlin’s Open Data initiative. In a press release on PRNewswire, the city explained that, “individual buildings, for example, can be selected and downloaded over a service interface in a variety of 3D data formats.” The 3D City Model may help open up new economic opportunities for Berlin, from connections with tech companies to tourism.