The city has released lots of data. Now we need to use it: Robert Cheetham - Technical.ly Philly

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Jul. 17, 2015 3:13 pm

The city has released lots of data. Now we need to use it: Robert Cheetham

That was the message from the Azavea founder and others at RJMetrics' Data Jawn event. Here are some highlights.

RJMetrics' Data Jawn event ended with a panel discussion between Azavea's Robert Cheetham, Textizen's Michelle Lee and Philly.com's Eric Ulken.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

Open data is nothing without the people who use it.

Philadelphia has been on the cutting edge of releasing data — about parking tickets, about School District budgets, about building permits. But, as Azavea founder Robert Cheetham put it, that data can’t do any good if it merely sits in an open data catalog.

“I’d love to see a commitment to using open data inside government, not just releasing it,” Cheetham said at RJMetrics’ Data Jawn event Thursday. (We’ve heard this sentiment from at least one other city staffer, who spoke of a mismatch between supply and demand, due in part to a lack of education internally about how city data can help those in government to do their job better.)

It’s not just a government issue, Cheetham added. He said he’d like to see more startups, nonprofits and researchers capitalize on the fact that there’s so much of this data available.

Cheetham was part of the panel that capped off the afternoon-long event at Old City’s Chemical Heritage Foundation. RJMetrics, a Philly-based business analytics startup, said they organized the event in hopes of rallying the local data community. The event packed the Foundation’s event hall and the energetic Robert Moore, RJMetrics’ CEO, played emcee.

Other highlights included:

  • City data scientist Lauren Ancona and CenTrak engineer Chris Tufts’ emoji talk.

  • RJMetrics’ Ben Garvey owning his position as data nerd to the extreme.

The speaker lineup was fairly gender diverse, as some pointed out.

But the audience wasn’t, as others pointed out. (MaassMedia’s Thanh-Trang Hoang-Le confirmed to us that she’s talking about Data Jawn.)

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