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.
- Hack Baltimore, the recently launched, challenge-based citywide hacking initiative, is being developed by gb.tc in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology.
- April’s Reinvent Transit hackathon was held in partnership with the city’s Department of Transportation, and the OpenBaltimore portal was updated with transportation data for the event. (Although, the towing dataset appears to be trapped behind a login screen.)
There’s a wealth of other, non-city resources available for Baltimore’s interested data junkies:
- Vital Signs data outlining quality-of-life indicators for 55 different community statistical areas are available through the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance.
- Baltimore’s 311 data is available through this Daily Brief map, a product of Code for America‘s 311 Labs.
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.”
Knowledge is power!
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