The nonprofit, D.C.-based foundation is known for promoting more open government and political transparency by encouraging people typically called “civic hackers” to create web and mobile apps to improve citizens’ access to government data.
Frederick has lived in Baltimore for four years, and he’s increasingly become better known as a civic hacker. Since the city launched its OpenBaltimore data catalog in spring 2011, Frederick has been mining the datasets for pertinent information:
- His app SpotAgent cleverly informs drivers at what parking spots in the city they’re more likely to receive tickets or get towed.
- His Baltimore Vacants interactive web map allows people to search for more than 30,000 vacant buildings and abandoned lots scattered citywide.
“Having open data allows citizens to analyze the problems in their own city,” Frederick told the Sunlight Foundation. “You get to help your own government use the data in ways that might help them … be more efficient, more productive.
Watch an interview with Shea Frederick:
While the call to make Baltimore city’s government more transparent is sometimes more a muffled cry to people in power (remember audits?), the city has taken steps since launching OpenBaltimore to be more forthcoming with data and information. In 2012, the open data portal received an upgrade allowing KMZ and shape files to be viewed as maps on people’s Internet browsers. At Tech Night in November, the city announced its first civic apps competition, and guaranteed a $10,000 prize for the winning submission.
As for Frederick, his relationship with hacking open government data goes way back.
During Baltimore Innovation Week, fellow hackers probably spotted him at gb.tc‘s Groundwork event (where the Sunlight Foundation shot some of the above video interview). And he presented at the BmoreTech Meetup Technically Baltimore organized in September about his Baltimore Vacants map.