An open data silver lining for Wilmington - Technical.ly Delaware

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Feb. 15, 2019 9:47 am

An open data silver lining for Wilmington

Open Data Delaware's Ryan Harrington made an astute observation about a fight over civic tech.

Ryan Harrington speaks at the Open Data Challenge kickoff in April 2018.

(Courtesy photo)

Ryan Harrington has been advocating for open data accessibility for years as a co-organizer of Open Data Delaware.

Recently, as he wrote in a Medium post titled “Let’s Be Glad the City of Wilmington is Embracing Transparency,” he noticed something interesting in a News-Journal article about a meltdown at a neighborhood association meeting, as the city treasurer and the Mayor’s Office faced off over which city transparency website should receive funding.

“[T]he more important story for citizens of Wilmington should be that the city is clearly making a concerted effort towards transparency,” he wrote in the post. “We should be encouraged by the fact that we were left with the quote ‘which city government transparency website should be funded’ instead of the quote ‘if a city government transparency website should be funded.’ It is the difference between ‘which‘ and ‘if‘ which highlights a subtle paradigm shift in how the city views transparency.”

It’s only been in the past few years that transparency in government was something to be expected — and something that officials were proud of. It was only 2017 that New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer unveiled the Open Checkbook, which allows the public to explore expenditure data and give feedback on ways to improve it.

“Trust in government is built on transparency,” said Meyer at the time.

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In the case of the Treasury V. the Mayor’s Office, the two had a disagreement on which program the city should use to share data — the user-friendly Socrata or the comprehensive OpenGov.

Harrington breaks it down for you open data fans — read the whole thing here.

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