#DataNews: Mapping Pennsylvania’s Hazardous Waste, an Open Data Policy in DC, & the FCC Turns to the Cloud

May 18, 2017 12:00 pm PST | Data News Roundup

“Data is bringing invisible to visible,” said Sari Ladin, Los Angeles’ Analytics and Digital Strategy Lead, at this week’s Smart Cities Week conference, during a panel discussion on the ways cities can begin to take advantage of their data. Also this week, Congress looks at the pros and cons of the Internet of Things, Data-Smart City Solutions releases a list of 10 ways data improves governments, and D.C.’s mayor signs an executive order making the city’s data open by default. Read on for more open data news.

First Steps for Cities in Harnessing the Value of Untapped Data

“Cities big and small operate under constrained budgets. And in an era of increasing government transparency and social media monitoring, cities and their administrators must act fiscally responsible. What’s one thing cities often don’t take into account when looking to maximize value? Data. Despite the abundance of data and analytics, cities often don’t realize their possible uses, according to Erica Garaffo, data analytics lead for San Jose, Calif.” Read more from GovTech.

Oversight Seeks Answers from Treasury on DATA Act Implementation

“The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform wants to know how the Treasury Department is tackling problems that crop up during implementation of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014. Agencies were to begin submitting by May 9 the standardized spending information required by the law, but a recent watchdog report warned that 26 federal inspectors general reported their agencies were experiencing challenges. And a few inspectors general said their agencies were not on track to meet the deadline or would not report complete data by then.” Read more from FedScoop.

10 Great Ways Data Can Make Government Better

“…we developed a list of ten great ways that the public sector can use data to improve the efficiency of its operations. Governments across the country have found countless creative solutions to urban problems by leveraging data and we highlight just a sampling below. We selected ideas that we think have value across a wide range of municipalities seeking to deliver more value to taxpayers and that address important policy and operational issues. Ten categories of these efforts stand out for their transferability across cities.” Read more from Data-Smart City Solutions.

GAO Lists Pros and Cons of Internet of Things for Congress

“Congress has recently been interested in the internet of things—a term for a connected network of devices and sensors—and tasked a federal watchdog to investigate its costs and benefits. The Government Accountability Office’s findings? That the internet of things stands to benefit consumers and the public sector. High-tech baby clothes, for instance, could help notify parents of breathing irregularities. Municipalities could install sensors across cities to better understand utility usage—smart trash bins could alert trash crews when they’re overflowing, so teams aren’t deployed unnecessarily. But there are challenges, too, some of which might require congressional monitoring.” Read more from NextGov.

Want to Know Where All Pa.’s Mines, Streams, and Hazardous Waste Sites Are? Now You Can Find Out

“The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has released a new public website loaded with maps of abandoned mine lands, air quality, hazardous waste sites, streams, and other data. In all, the new geographic information system (GIS) site includes more than 300 digital data sets and maps.  It’s available at OpenDataPA, a central repository for all open data sets published by state agencies.” Read more from Philly.com.

D.C. Announces ‘Open by Default’ Data Policy

“Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the signing of an executive order Thursday that creates a new policy setting an “open by default” standard for all District government data.” Read more from State Scoop.

Open Data Needs More Than Executive Orders, Think Tank Says

“Executive orders aren’t enough to bolster federal open data programs, and Congress needs to step up, a technology advocacy group says. Congress has taken a handful of meaningful steps recently to encourage federal agencies to share data with each other and the public, according to a new Center for Data Innovation report….Without further congressional action, there’s ‘uncertainty about the extent to which the federal government will remain committed’ to ‘opening its data to the public or refining and improving open-data efforts over time,’ the report said.” Read more from NextGov.

Commentary: Why Seattle’s Next Mayor Must Partner with the Tech Community

“With the now wide-open election for mayor, the City of Seattle again has a chance to fully embrace the source of its economic prosperity: the booming high-tech community. Seattle won’t do that by getting a tech leader as its next mayor, as GeekWire has reported. But that next mayor must seek out Seattle’s technology companies and tech communities to form the alliances so urgently needed by the city to address chronic problems like homelessness and transportation.” Read more from Geek Wire.

How the FCC Leverages the Cloud for Customer Complaints

“In 2016, the [FCC] agency decided to open up some of the complaint data to the public using a Socrata-powered open data site and API. The information in the Consumer Complaint Data Center is used by companies for a variety of purposes including call-blocking technology and providing general information to customers about problems in specific geographic areas. Now averaging 2.3 million API calls a month in 2017, FCC Consumer Data Advisor James Brown called the Socrata API ‘hugely successful’ for the agency’s internal stakeholders. ‘What used to take someone many hours or even days to piece together through an enterprise-level business intelligence tool can be accomplished [now] in a matter of minutes,’ Brown said.” Read more from GCN.

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