Cypher Philly, a project born from a meetup, wants to unlock the power of open data - Technical.ly Philly

Dev

Nov. 15, 2018 1:22 pm

Cypher Philly, a project born from a meetup, wants to unlock the power of open data

Cofounder Jess Mason is trying to make a passion project his full-time job.

Jess Mason, of Cypher Philly, pitches the project at Klein Camp 2018.

(Photo courtesy of Philly GraphDB)

For Cypher Philly founder Jess Mason, the copious amounts of open data produced every year by OpenDataPhilly needed another layer that could maximize their potential impact.

It’s why he set out — alongside cofounder Jason Cox and about 40 volunteers — to build an application that can connect the dots between data sets meant for transparency and higher government efficiency.

We asked him to explain how it works and he gave us the elevator pitch.

“It’s an open source web application project designed to empower citizens, journalists, data scientists, coders and creatives with the ability to harness open data for civic good,” Mason reads from a doc on his phone. “Our goal is to simplify the process of telling data-driven stories using open public data to bring about actionable change, while also informing citizens and governments alike.”

Cypher Philly, a project born from the Philly GraphDB meetup organized by Mason and Cox, was also a project of Code for Philly’s Civic Engagement Launchpad. Over the past year or so, the volunteer effort has been geared at getting a viable prototype up and running. Some 500 development hours have gone into its creation.

The hope is that media outlets, data scientists and organizations can leverage the application, which uses graph database management system Neo4j, to understand the data and find ways to make it actionable.

“The whole point of the project is making a difference for the city and the people who live here,” said Mason. “We want to find ways to improve the interaction between city data and its citizens.”

(Full disclosure, Technical.ly will be exploring opportunities to pilot the platform on future reporting projects.)

The next step is finding a way to make Cypher Philly a sustainable project. Mason said the group is going after a series of grants, and organizations like Linode, Azavea, Indy Hall and Neo4j have sponsored the project in various ways, from offering space for events or access to digital tools and services. The hope is to have enough resources to give the project launch a clearer timeline.

Advertisement

“We already have day jobs,” said Mason, who runs a dev shop called Untitled Folder alongside Cox. “But this is starting to become our day job.”

-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here

Advertisement

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation gets $100K to ease access to childhood cancer data

Breaking: Philadelphia is restructuring its Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation

5 on-ramps to the world of open data

SPONSORED

Philly

Join the team at Odessa working to shake up the global leasing industry

Philadelphia, PA

Linode

Product Marketing Manager

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Linode

Systems Software Engineer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA - Center City

Odessa

Sr. Business Analyst – Bilingual (Spanish)

Apply Now

Build the 21st century of government at Imagine Nation ELC 2018

Meet Open Data PGH, Technical.ly’s new reporting series on civic tech in Pittsburgh

Read this rundown of Philly’s civic-tech all-stars

SPONSORED

Philly

How this Vistar Media software engineer succeeds on an ‘inclusive team’

Philadelphia, PA

PromptWorks

Senior UX Designer

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Linode

Senior Software Engineer – Kubernetes

Apply Now
Philadelphia, PA

Linode

QA Automation Engineer

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!