What's New in Civic Tech: Washington, D.C., to Publish Traffic Crash Data Daily

Plus, Atlanta CIO to deliver keynote about strategic partnerships in innovation, Kansas City launches open data Facebook chatbot and a new handbook details mayors’ roles in the rise of innovation districts.

by / June 29, 2017

Washington, D.C., will publish its traffic crash data every 24 hours in an open and geocoded format, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced June 29.

This effort supports Vision Zero, the mayor’s initiative to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious crash injuries in the city by 2024, and is a collaboration among the District Department of Transportation, the Metropolitan Police Department and the Office of the Chief Technology Officer. It also is part of the District’s Open Data Policy.

The open data will include every crash reported in the jurisdiction, regardless of the mode of transportation. Users will be able to see the location of the incident, the ward in which it occurred, the number of injuries and the extent of those injuries, whether a driver was impaired, whether a driver was speeding, the nearest intersection, and the exact distance from that intersection. There will also be details related to the crash including ages, types of vehicle, tickets issued and where the vehicles are registered.

Bowser announced Washington’s current Data Policy in May, billing it as one of the most progressive and comprehensive in the country. Indeed, it does strive for a level of specificity that few other cities can boast. Also impressive is the sometimes esoteric extent to which technologists in the city are going to cover all aspects of urban life there.

Earlier this month, Washington’s urban forestry division deployed the DC Tree Watering App, which has a number of features aimed at fostering public awareness about the water needs of young trees, as well as about street trees in general.

All of the city’s open data can be found at opendata.dc.gov.

Atlanta CIO to Deliver Keynote on Strategic Partnerships in Innovation

Atlanta CIO Samir Saini will deliver a keynote speech about the importance of strategic partnerships in tech innovation at the annual IoT Symposium August 31.

Saini said in a press release that speaking at the event is “an opportunity to show how the city of Atlanta is committed to being a smart-city model for the country and our commitment to furthering the digital transformation that will improve citizen services and increase government efficiency.”

Saini is especially qualified to talk about collaborating in service of tech innovation, as Atlanta is currently preparing to launch an IoT initiative called the North Avenue Corridor Pilot Project. This effort, which will allow the city the leverage vast data generated by devices mounted all over local infrastructure, is taking place as a group effort supported by Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Georgia Tech. The namesake corridor extends between the Midtown and Downtown neighborhoods of the city, encompassing an area that includes Georgia Tech, a key public transit station, the Atlanta Beltline greenway and much more.

Saini has also fostered collaboration on the fly. After a bridge collapsed in April on Interstate 85 in Atlanta, Saini collaborated with Chief Resilience Officer Stephanie Stuckey, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Public Works Commissioner William Johnson, and GIS employees to build a response website within 12 days of the emergency.

The 2017 IoT Symposium, which will be held at the Renaissance Waverly in Atlanta, is expected to attract about 600 attendees, and there will be a particular focus on executive leadership. The event is being organized by the Technology Association of Georgia.

For more information about the IoT Symposium event, including how to register, visit: http://www.tagonline.org/iotga/.

Kansas City Launches Open Data Facebook Chatbot

Open Data Kansas City has built a chatbot on Facebook that's designed to interact with users and help them get the most out of the city’s open data portal.

The chatbot converses over Facebook Messenger, helping members of the community locate useful information about the topics they care about in government. While the Open Data KC chatbot is not the first robotic character built to help the public navigate open data — that honor likely goes to Chicago advocacy group Citizens Police Data, which crafted a Twitter bot to distribute officer compliant info — it is the first official effort by city government to do something like this on Facebook, according to the Sunlight Foundation, an open government advocacy group.

Eric Roche, Kansas City’s chief data officer, told Sunlight that he first conceived of the open data chatbot while having discussions with city leadership, which stressed a heavy interest in making open data easier for residents to use. As an example, Roche described a situation in which a home association president or neighborhood leader was aware that the public had access to 311 calls and code violations, but did not have enough technical knowledge to navigate the open data portal and find it. In that scenario, the chatbot could be a great resource. The user would type in code violations and ask the bot to find them by neighborhood, and the bot would then connect the user with the exact data sets and visualizations he or she was interested in.

Roche went on to describe the current iteration of the chatbot as an experiment that could eventually provide users with a great deal of help.

New Handbook Details Role of Mayors in Rise of Innovation Districts

A new handbook offers strategies for mayors and their staffs to foster the rise of innovation districts, areas within cities where research universities, medical institutions and private companies can cluster and connect with innovators such as tech startups, accelerators and incubators.

This handbook is the result of a collaboration among the United States Conference of Mayors, the Brookings Institute and the Project for Public Spaces, which over the past year have worked together to create a resource for civic leadership interested in nurturing the new growth model. The handbook seeks to offer concrete strategies for creating innovation districts, which the Brookings Institute described in an announcement as places that “reflect profound market and demographic dynamics that are revaluing proximity, density, walkability and accessibility — in other words, the natural strengths of cities.”

Zack Quaintance Staff Writer

Zack Quaintance is a staff writer for Government Technology. Prior to that, he spent five years working in daily newspapers, and another five years working in the tech sector. He lives in Northern California.