OpenDataPhilly.org, the civic-orientated directory of information, tools and apps that launched during last year’s Philly Tech Week, will mark a year in existence later this month. In that time, dozens of new data-infused items have been added, thousands of developers and hobbyists have visited and a local network of hackathons have embraced it as the natural starting point for projects.
The only trouble might be that no one is quite sure who owns it, a strange hiccup in what may have been among the first and largest municipal data portals created outside of city staff.
Well, the community owns it, answers Robert Cheetham, the founder of Azavea, the popular GIS firm that built the site. The initial work was done pro bono, though a partnership with NPower PA and funding from the William Penn Foundation has helped the cause.
OpenAccessPhilly Showcase: Philly Tech Week lunchtime event
- WHAT: Lightning presentations from public-private partnerships in the city.
- WHEN: Mon. April 23, 12-1 pm
- WHERE: WHYY, 150 N. 6th Street, Old City
- FREE RSVP here
“I don’t think a private, for-profit business is the right owner for something like this,” said Cheetham, who got involved in the project through OpenAccessPhilly strategy sessions that included Technically Philly.
For now, the OpenDataPhilly.org domain is owned by Azavea and the site is hosted by the company. No formal contracts or long-term strategy has been put in place. Though Cheetham asked last year for ownership interest from institutions — requests were made by Philly.com and privately by a research initiative, among others — that effort has somewhat calmed. Temple’s new Center for Public Interest Journalism with new leadership is another suspected possibility, as is the city’s Office of Information Technology.
“Until the right fit comes,” says Cheetham, “we will be happy to be its steward.”
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