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Civic

May. 2, 2013 11:52 am

Shea Frederick: open data lets you understand a city’s problems [VIDEO]

A new Sunlight Foundation video focuses on why municipal politicians ought to embrace publicly accessible government data.

Civic hacker Shea Frederick.

Pink Floyd once asked if we should trust the government. In some respects, that question is the crux of why municipal politicians ought to embrace publicly accessible government data.

Shea Frederick says it “allows citizens to analyze the problems in their own city and come to their own conclusions.”

In a new video from the Sunlight Foundation, the AOL/Ad.com developer joins with other civic hackers from other cities across the U.S. as they each offer their own take on the nonprofit, D.C.-based foundation‘s central message: that open government data can be used in concert with citizen-techies’ desire to create apps and tools for making government more efficient, more transparent and more accountable.

Watch the Sunlight Foundation video:

Frederick, a Baltimore resident for four years, is one of this city’s tech-hackers at the forefront of this burgeoning national civic hacking movement — he was even named an OpenGov Champion by the Sunlight Foundation in February.

In the past month alone, the city has reinvigorated its commitment to civic data that started with the founding of the OpenBaltimore civic data portal in spring 2011.

There’s a wealth of other, non-city resources available for Baltimore’s interested data junkies:

Work, however, remains, as Baltimoreans know. (The vacant housing data on OpenBaltimore, for instance, is some civic hackers argue is in dire need of updating.)

But the benefit from private-public partnerships around open data is a worthy endeavor, summed up best by Todd Park, chief technology officer of the U.S.

“If I just make my data available,” he says in the Sunlight Foundation video, “lots of other smart people will do amazing things with it that can help people.”

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Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is a freelance journalist in Philadelphia and the former lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. Before moving to Philadelphia in June 2014, he was a contributing writer to Baltimore City Paper and a Tech Check commentator for WYPR 88.1 FM, Baltimore city’s National Public Radio affiliate. He has written for The Atlantic, Outside, Richmond magazine, Washington City Paper, Baltimore magazine, Baltimore Style magazine, Next City, Grist.org, The Atlantic Cities, and elsewhere.

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