Software Development

The city is releasing 6 datasets for next weekend’s Apps for Philly Democracy hackathon

It's part of Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski's open-data strategic plan in action.

Today's the day, folks.

(Photo by Flickr user VoteEFX, used under a Creative Commons license)

Next week, hackers are taking City Hall.

They’re coming for Apps for Philly Democracy, a hackathon focused on democracy and municipal engagement. The city is hosting the event at the City Council caucus room and its Innovation Lab. For the hackathon, the city is also releasing six datasets from the City Commissioner’s Office around voting, including voter registry (minus names) and an API for polling places. See the datasets here (scroll down to “current pipeline”).
Register for the hackathon
One reason this data release is significant? It’s part of Chief Data Officer Tim Wisniewski’s flagship open data strategic plan in action.
The plan calls for a multi-step process to prioritize data releases: It involves taking stock on what datasets exist, asking the public which datasets they want released, working with an open data advisory group and then presenting that information to the relevant city department, which ultimately chooses which datasets to release.
It’s one way Wisniewski is trying to accomplish his goal of making data releases more equitable, rather than simply serving a small subset of people, like, say, tech-savvy devs, and also of working closely with city departments and empowering them to choose what data gets released.
The public comment section left something to be desired this time around (the most-commented-upon dataset, Polling Places, had four comments). Wisniewski said the city and open data advisory group need to work on getting the word out.
The list of planned data releases, found at the bottom of this page, marks a shift between Wisniewski’s tenure and that of his predecessor, Mark Headd. Headd used Trello, a platform where users can comment and track changes, to display planned data releases, but Wisniewski decided to go another route because Trello no longer fit with the way the city was doing data releases, he told us.

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