March 1, 2010 By Andy Opsahl
Photo: Seattle CIO Bill Schrier
Following the open data trend popularized by San Francisco, New York City, the District of Columbia and other local governments, Seattle recently announced the deployment of Data.Seattle.gov, a Web site offering city data sets to citizen programmers who want to build citizen-facing applications. The data sets include information on crime statistics, alternative schools, public toilets, public art and numerous other metrics on Seattle life.
Seattle CIO Bill Schrier said he planned to implement a $25,000 contest called "Apps for Seattle" in June or July, with the prize money awarded for the best applications. He's holding off until then because he plans to post police and fire 911 data sets in the meantime. Schrier wants to see contestants use that data for their submissions. Schrier expects most winning applications to be hosted privately, like iPhone applications. This way, city IT workers don't need to maintain them. He said he might deploy a contestant's application that helps citizens submit feedback to the city.
For now, the site features datasets from My Neighborhood Map, a feature on the city's Web site, Seattle.gov. The plan is for Seattle departments to contribute data -- beginning with information commonly requested through the public disclosure process. Schrier figures that focusing on that data will mean that departments won't need to bother gathering it for future public disclosure requests. They could instead refer requesters to Data.Seattle.gov.
"If you're spending a lot of time getting people Freedom of Information Act information on employee salaries or building permits, those are the ones you ought to ship over first to Data.Seattle.Gov and then you'll free up all of that time," Schrier said.
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