Public Engagement Through APIs and Policy

January 12, 2017 12:00 pm PST | Data News Roundup

Douglas County is using APIs to facilitate data sharing and Buffalo, a What Works City, is soliciting feedback on a draft of its open data policy. Plus, GovTech speaks with state CIOs and IT leaders who came from the private sector about their journey to government. Read more in this week’s news roundup:

How APIs Are Central to One County’s E-Government Revitalization

“In Douglas County, Colo., an effort is underway, led by the elected county treasurer and assessor, to find better ways of sharing data both with the public and between government offices….John Thompson, Douglas County’s data services manager, said the county is looking at how to make its data more accessible and enable constituents to help the county build apps and software, and its IT leaders realized that APIs are a key building block. ‘One of the compelling reasons we decided to go with Socrata for an open data platform in the first place was because it had a role-level API for any piece of data we make available,’ he explained. ‘We approached it not from a transparency standpoint, but more as an IT entity. We want to make data machine-readable and as widely available as possible.’” Read more from GovTech.

Buffalo Focuses on Transparency

“Buffalo, New York is moving ahead on transparency. Today, the city released a draft of its first open data policy. The document is the result of Buffalo’s work with the Bloomberg Philanthropies What Works Cities initiative, a project aimed at helping city governments make better data driven decisions.” Read more from CivSource.

Why publishing more open data isn’t enough to empower citizens

“But simply ‘liberating’ data is not enough. Even last year’s UN high-level conference on Africa’s data revolution recognized that private citizens are unlikely to use open data, and hence intermediaries — or ‘infomediaries’ — must play an important role. These groups (data wranglers, academics, data-proficient civil society organizations, etc.) turn data into actionable information, which can then be used to lobby for tangible change. Increasing the impact of the open data movement isn’t just a matter of emphasizing the role of these ‘infomediaries’ — it means shifting focus from supply to demand.” Read more from IJNet.

5 State IT Leaders Detail Their Path to the CIO’s Office

“Public CIO asked four state CIOs who came to their positions after careers in other fields and one longtime state IT executive to reflect on how their experiences informed their priorities, decision-making and relationship building.” Read more from

OPINION: Trump shouldn’t close the doors on government data

What are the nation’s leading economists freaking out about these days?…Almost to a person [the 13,300 economists attending the annual meeting of the American Economic Association]…mentioned concerns about the continued integrity and availability of government data. The prospect of yet more funding cuts for the statistical agencies, layered with Donald Trump’s repeated efforts to discredit government numbers, bode ill for academics, businesses, households and policymakers alike. Read more from the Washington Post.

What does 2017 hold for open data initiatives?

“In 2016, open data was central to a growing number of projects across the globe. Throughout the year, data initiatives attempted to change the banking industry, took strides towards getting London fit, and fought “superbugs” through a real-time record of antibiotic resistance. How will we see the open data ecosystem continue to grow in 2017? We asked the experts to tell us what the coming year will hold.” Read more from the Guardian.

Effort to codify Presidential Innovation Fellows program is back in House

“After Congress ran out the clock last year on a bill that would have codified the Presidential Innovation Fellows program, the House’s majority Leader reintroduced the legislation this week. The program, which embeds private-sector innovators into federal agencies for a yearlong tour, launched in 2012 during the Obama administration. Fellows — known as PIFs — have contributed to major federal technology projects such as the launch of, the Police Data Initiative, Blue Button and the RFP-EZ platform.” Read more from FedScoop.

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