Following in the digital footsteps of major cities like San Francisco and New York, King County, Wash., might start publishing public data online, giving citizens access to transit information, county park events, crime data and more.

This push comes from King County Council member Reagan Dunn, who last week introduced legislation that would require county agencies to publish "high value data sets" online by June 1. King County includes cities such as Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond, the home bases for Microsoft and Nintendo of America. Dunn believes giving people access to information like crime statistics and the wastewater treatment processes will spur innovation in the region.

"This legislation will literally allow the smartest people from Microsoft, Google, Amazon and others to use King County data in new and innovative ways," Dunn said in a statement. "In the process, our citizens get access to more information and our government becomes more accessible."

Dunn's proposal represents the latest in a string of initiatives across the country: From San Francisco's DataSF and the New York City Data Mine to Federal CIO Vivek Kundra's site, governments have been publishing data to try and connect with citizens. In innovation contests like Apps for Democracy and Apps for America, citizens use government data to create new applications.

Although Seattle is the county seat, the city government operates independently. Two years ago, the city launched a map on its Web site that highlights various data, such as crime stats and park information. The goal is to eventually publish data sets similar to, said Bill Schrier, Seattle's CIO. Any decision to merge data would have to be made by senior elected officials, but Schrier added that cooperation would make sense: Seattle has information on police and fire services and permits; King County has information on the jail, the courts and parcels of land.

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Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer