Socrata Connect Coverage and More

March 9, 2017 1:02 pm PDT | Open Data
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Speakers and sessions from this week’s Socrata Connect conference were in the news: San Bernardino County’s Public Health Director spoke about collaborating with other agencies to reduce obesity, Los Angeles’ Chief Data Officer discussed the role of data in the city’s sustainability efforts, and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III shared goals for the county’s relaunched open data site. Plus, San Diego is the latest city to embrace the Internet of Things — sensors on city street lights will report data that can be used to do everything from tracking pollution to helping drivers find parking places. Read more stories in the latest data news roundup:

Open Data Portal Encourages Residents to Analyze Their Government

“Data from the Prince George’s County government became easier to access this week after the county relaunched a website that gives the public the power to probe, download and search data sets about everything from building permits to crime….‘It’s about empowering the community to make the changes,’ said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who was invited by Socrata to speak at the conference. ‘Having the data available online will feed right into that. It’s greater access to information and transparency to help solve problems at a neighborhood level.’” Read more from the Washington Post.

In Los Angeles, All Data Is Sustainability Data

“Officials at Los Angeles City Hall have come to see all municipal data as sustainability data since Mayor Eric Garcetti released L.A.’s first-ever Sustainable City pLAn in April 2015….Housing, transportation, walkability, and air and water quality data all play into L.A.’s expanded definition of sustainability. ‘How does the data drive new services or create new services?’ asked Lilian Coral, the city’s chief data officer, during an interview with Route Fifty at Socrata Connect conference at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center outside Washington, D.C.” Read more from Route Fifty.

San Bernardino County Enlisted Its Transportation Authority’s Help to Improve Health Outcomes

“With 2.15 million residents—2.75 million by 2039—across a 20,000-square-mile expanse, 80 percent of which is undeveloped, the expansive county which stretches east of Los Angeles all the way to Arizona is naturally a “car-centric environment,” Trudy Raymundo, the county’s public health director, said Monday during a Socrata Connect session at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center near the nation’s capital….Only in the last few years has the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health tied outcomes like these to goals in education, homelessness, job stability, and public safety and begun collaborating with other agencies — thanks in large part to open performance. ‘I just don’t think we were really looking at our data,’ Raymundo said. ‘We were also looking at our data in isolation.’” Read more from Route Fifty.

Design and Resilience Key for Smart City Sensors

“In the race to get “smart,” more cities are considering installing data-collecting devices across their neighborhoods. According to one sensor net pioneer, however, it’s not as easy as putting a box on a pole and waiting for the data to flow in. First, there are obvious considerations, said Charlie Catlett, the senior computer scientist at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory who has been working with Chicago’s Array of Things project. What data will it collect? How will the data be made available? What is the privacy policy? And when a city puts up hundreds of sensors, Catlett told attendees at the March 7 Socrata Connect conference, it must also have to consider the possibility of repairing them.” Read more from GCN.

A Playbook for How Cities Should Share and Protect Data

“For any city, open data is a double-edged sword; the most useful information can also be the most sensitive. To help officials balance the risks and benefits, researchers at Harvard University have created a playbook for open data, complete with best practices, examples of what has and hasn’t worked so far, and a thorough checklist of what to consider when embarking on a new data project.” Read more from City Lab.

Big Data Isn’t Sexy (And That’s OK)

“Now that civic data has matured, it is the time for us to reinforce this concept of getting value from all of the data we have and leveraging it to do business better. Sometimes we get caught up in ensuring that a data product is shiny and sexy while instead we should focus on the core principles of how we make internal operations, from big business to government, run better and more efficiently. Major impact can start with small change, and not everything needs to be complicated. In fact, simple analysis can lead to large outcomes.” Read more from  Data-Smart City Solutions.

San Diego Unleashes 3,200 Sensors to Cut Traffic and Fight Pollution

“On Wednesday the city of San Diego revealed plans for a massive sensor network that will use city street lights to deploy 3,200 sensors for air, traffic, and pedestrian safety monitoring….Each sensor, or ‘smart node’ as they’re called, can report data anonymously and in real time. The sensor information will be used for open data, and in city apps to do things like direct drivers to open parking spots, help first responders with intel during emergencies, and track carbon emissions. For the planning department, the data will also illuminate new methods for improving traffic intersections and enhancing pedestrian safety.” Read more from State Scoop.

Open with Care: Report Plots a More Aggressive Path for Open Data Privacy

“…the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society released a new guide on Monday called Open Data Privacy. The 110-page tactical guide represents a year of work by researchers who sought to equip city leaders with tools and information that would allow them to ride the line between privacy and function. Proponents of open data have claimed for years that much of technology’s true potential remains locked away in databases. Case studies showing best practices — and what not to do — are paired with guidelines and printable charts that allow leaders to map the risks and benefits associated with unleashing new data sets upon a world filled with bad actors who ply personally identifying information against unsuspecting citizens for personal gain.” Read more from State Scoop.

Q&A: Stephen Goldsmith Discusses Importance of Data Sharing with Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt

“Last May, the state of Illinois made headlines with an enterprise memorandum of understanding between 13 state agencies that agreed to share data to enhance delivery of government services and improve overall efficiencies. I spoke with Illinois Chief Information Officer (CIO) Hardik Bhatt about what he learned from the successful completion of the state data sharing agreement.” Read more from Data-Smart City Solutions.

Historic ‘Book of Negroes’ Added to N.S. Open Data Portal

“The book [‘The Book of Negroes’] was compiled in New York between April and November of 1783 at the conclusion of the American Revolutionary War. It is a record of the 3,000 black refugees — all of whom sided with the British during the war — who were loaded on ships bound for Nova Scotia, then a British colony….The book’s contents, including high-resolution images of each page, have been available online as a searchable database for several years, but the Nova Scotia government recently added most of the data to its open data portal. That means the lists can be downloaded for research or used by developers to create new applications.” Read more from Maclean’s.


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