DJ Patil Speaks on Open Data Priorities

November 10, 2016 12:00 pm PST | Open Data

At the recent Code for America conference, White House Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil echoed a familiar message: Open data is most powerful when it’s released thoughtfully, with an eye toward both identifying and resolving society’s problems. A new report from the Data Foundation assesses the government’s open data efforts, and Socrata release a new tool for the U.S. Census Department. Read on for more in this week’s Open Data Download.

The Progress and Pitfalls of Government’s Open Data Efforts

“Ninety percent of open data experts interviewed in a new report believe the standardization and publication of government data have improved over the last few years of the Obama administration. The report, released jointly today by the Data Foundation, an open data research organization based in Washington, D.C., and consulting giant Grant Thornton, includes a history of U.S. open data efforts and detailed feedback from more than 40 data transparency experts within and outside government.” Read more from Nextgov.

Why open data needs a mission

“The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s top data scientist believes open data has the power to identify and begin to help remediate problems facing society, but the data doesn’t mean much without a mission behind it. DJ Patil, speaking at the Code for America conference in Oakland, said that while open data is a good start, its real impact comes from releasing data with the objective of solving problems.” Read more from FCW.

Smart Cities Require Smart Policy

“American cities are already adopting new technologies intended to improve urban living. You have used smart city products if you’ve ridden a bike from a bike-share system, paid for street parking using your phone or paid for a toll road using an E-ZPass. Industry leaders who design these products promote them as a way to make city services more useful and efficient, and they have had some notable successes. However, the emerging smart city trend poses some risks to residents, which policymakers have not given sufficient attention to yet.” Read more from U.S. News and World Report.

Maui County Financial Data More Accessible Through Web Portal

“Members of the public will now be able to more easily access Maui County financial performance data, thanks to new open data software, county officials announced today….Maui County leveraged Socrata’s financial transparency suite of applications, which make it easy for governments large and small to publish budget, revenue and spending data quickly, economically and in a consumer-friendly way.” Read more from Maui Now.

Socrata Announces Free, Open and Public Tool using Valuable Commerce Datasets

“The open data movement has been alive at the Department of Commerce for a very long time….However, facilitating the use of Commerce data by as many people as possible is a journey. To bring data-driven insights to new audiences, we issued a challenge to the private sector to help build new tools that make our data more actionable. In response, we’re announcing another free, open and public tool built by Socrata that makes a valuable data set from the U.S. Census Bureau more accessible — Small Area Health Insurance Estimates (SAHIE). The SAHIE program annually produces timely estimates for all counties and states, with detailed demographic and income data as well. SAHIE rely heavily on American Community Survey estimates and related administrative records data.” Read more on Medium.

OMB updates policy on government websites

“The Office of Management and Budget updated its policy on government websites Tuesday in a new memo requiring agencies to take some concrete actions with their websites and social media. Among the requirements were mandates for agencies to migrate all of their official websites to .gov or .mil domains, register every government social media account and public facing digital service, and participate in the General Service Administration’s Digital Analytics Program.” Read more from FedScoop.

2016 Digital Cities: Winners Focus on Transparency, Security, Infrastructure

“The 2016 Digital Cities Survey results are in. Dozens of cities were selected by a judging panel at the Center for Digital Government as the most strategic, efficient and innovative guardians of public-sector tech in the nation. The top-ranked cities will receive an award on Nov. 17 at the National League of Cities’ annual conference in Pittsburgh. The first-place winners in five population categories are: Los Angeles; Virginia Beach, Va.; Durham, N.C.; Roanoke, Va.; and Tamarac, Fla.” Read more from GovTech. 

Cool Cities Rely on Technology; Smart Cities Rely on Data and Partnerships

“Government officials are quick to reference their ideals for smart technology creating more efficient governance and more livable conditions, but how do we tell the difference between cities that do it for press releases and news coverage against those using the tools in a constructive, cost-efficient way? The difference, according to Bob Bennett, chief innovation officer for Kansas City, Mo., is the use of data.”Data is what makes it smart,” said Bennett. “Technology makes it cool, but data is what makes it smart.” Read more from GovTech.


If you’d like to learn how to leverage data to impact your program outcomes, sign up for our free online course on an Introduction to Data Analysis through the Socrata Data Academy.


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