Open San Diego: open data catalog for California city uses OpenDataPhilly source code from Azavea

Azavea’s OpenDataPhilly.org open source code has popped up in an open data catalog at Open San Diego, which launched in beta last week. In November 2011, Open Chattanooga built a similar catalog using the code, as Technically Philly reported. OpenDataPhilly was first unveiled at last year’s Philly Tech Week and the latest news on the […]

Azavea’s OpenDataPhilly.org open source code has popped up in an open data catalog at Open San Diego, which launched in beta last week.

In November 2011, Open Chattanooga built a similar catalog using the code, as Technically Philly reported. OpenDataPhilly was first unveiled at last year’s Philly Tech Week and the latest news on the local data catalog will be shared at the OpenAccessPhilly Showcase during the second annual Philly Tech Week presented by AT&T next month.

The new San Diego catalog, which is currently being tested by participants in the San Diego Apps Challenge, simply directs users to data from a variety of San Diego government agencies, which Open San Diego founder and organizer Jed Sundwall says the city freely provides. Beyond that, he says the organization hasn’t had had the resources to seek out additional datasets.

“We’re still not clear on which datasets are most valuable to open up,” Sundwall said. “We want to figure out the best way to organize and present a wide variety of datasets first – Azavea’s work has really helped us with that.”

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Sundwall says he’s been working on Open San Diego for about two and a half years, ever since he went to a transparency camp in 2009. Code for America founder Jen Pahlka and others at the camp pushed him to use his experience developing social media strategies for USA.gov and GobiernoUSA.gov in San Diego.

“I’d been waiting around for someone else to start agitating for a more tech savvy government, but finally realized that I was probably a good person to do it.”

Sundwall says he and the five other volunteers who work on Open San Diego just want to “make data about San Diego free available for anyone to use.”

“We want to become something like a data library for the city,” said Sundwall. “The thesis is that we want to give developers, researchers, journalists, policy makers and bureaucrats easy access to data that accurately describes the city so they can do their jobs more easily.”

On the web site, there is a very explicit statement that Open San Diego is “not a transparency organization.” Sundwall says he wants to make it clear that they aren’t an organization looking to uncover wrongdoing, an approach he says only serves to make government official less transparent.

“We want to make the case that this isn’t just about transparency, but that sharing data can make lawmakers’ and public servants’ jobs easier while improving the quality of policy and service delivery,” Sundwall said. “It’s a win-win.”

Sundwall says he found out about Azavea’s open source code through Code for America. The Code for America Brigade supports the site.

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