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Nov. 18, 2011 10:00 am

Open Chattanooga: open data catalog for Tennessee city uses OpenDataPhilly source code from Azavea

The OpenAccessPhilly public-private, open gov movement highlighted by April’s OpenDataPhilly.org launch, has helped spur another group in Tennessee. Months after OpenDataPhilly.org was discussed at the Chaos Conference in Berlin, a group of civic hackers and good government-minded officials used the site’s open source framework built by Azavea to launch OpenChattanooga.com. Visit OpenChattannooga here. The site […]

The OpenAccessPhilly public-private, open gov movement highlighted by April’s OpenDataPhilly.org launch, has helped spur another group in Tennessee.

Months after OpenDataPhilly.org was discussed at the Chaos Conference in Berlin, a group of civic hackers and good government-minded officials used the site’s open source framework built by Azavea to launch OpenChattanooga.com.

Visit OpenChattannooga here.

The site was built during the 48 Hour Launch program from the Company Lab this past weekend and organized by Tim Moreland, an analyst with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Regional Planning Agency, and Teal Thibaud, a communications director at community vision group Chatanooga STAND.

“Right now Open Chattanooga is just a collection of interested individuals without any formalized structure or support. The group consists of city employees, nonprofit organizations, interested citizens, local tech geeks and people in higher education to name a few,” Moreland tells Technically Philly.

A major theme of the OpenDataPhilly.org story is that the City of Philadelphia had already released some meaningful data sets, particularly in the GIS space, so the open data portal serves as nothing more than a catalog, directing users to available data. The next step for the local site is to grow the data API output from the city. Getting to even that point for Chattanooga is going to require more effort, says Moreland.

“The problem we are running into is that there are very little hosted ‘open’ data sources for our area. So if we want to put it on the portal we must also figure out where and how to host it, instead of just pointing a link to the location of the hosted data,” he said. “There are several other datasets that we will be hosting or linking to in the coming weeks as we continue to grow the site. Most of the data is currently municipal data but we are hoping that local nonprofits and even some businesses that have data that civic coders could use will be partnering with us to list their datasets through our portal as well.”

There is interest from the Chattanooga city government, he adds.

“We have been in contact with the City of Chattanooga and have found them very receptive to our work. Currently we are trying to work out what a more formalized partnership between Open Chattanooga and the city would look like and how it would function,” he said. “Open Chattanooga wants to be a resource for city government by partnering with them to provide tools, datasets and apps that are useful to its citizens.”

That may sound familiar, so it’s no surprise the OpenChattanooga group found OpenDataPhilly.

“I’ve been following the work of a lot of other open cities initiatives elsewhere and have been really impressed by the work going on in Philly. One of the main ideas behind Open Chattanooga is leveraging the amazing work being done elsewhere and porting it to Chattanooga. In talking with some of the people involved with OpenAccessPhilly and OpenDataPhilly it seems like they have a very similar structure to Open Chattanooga so it makes sense that we would be drawn to their work.”

OpenChattanooga is updating those interested on Twitter and Facebook.

Moreland wanted to highlight Katherine Currin, also from STAND, and design and development help from Ben Huffine, Rina Hatcher and Ashley Frasier.

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Christopher Wink

Christopher Wink is a cofounder and Editorial Director of Technical.ly, the local technology news network. Previously, Wink worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and was a freelance reporter for a variety of publications. He writes regularly about news innovation and best business practices on his personal blog here. The bicycle commuter loves cities, urban politics and squabbling about neighborhood boundaries.

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