March 10, 2010 By Kristy Fifelski
I've been looking into what some of the larger cities are doing in terms of opening their data up to the public recently. San Francisco, NYC, DC, and the newest one announced last week is Seattle - all are opening city datasets to the public. Who cares? Well, I think there are some huge practical benefits. They are basically saying - "Hey local vendors and developers - take our data and make something useful out of it. We'll give you guys props and public acknowledgement" And in some cases, cash prizes!
San Francisco launched www.datasf.org. They're showcasing all the apps that have been created by the public based on their open data. Take the 'Mom Map' for instance - it uses city data on locations of playgrounds, parks, etc. and combines it with GPS info so moms can easily find kid friendly locations in the city.
Then there's some data that makes you wonder what interesting apps will come out of it. Seattle, for instance, has released data on public toilet locations..... ;-) That could be interesting.
Anyway, I'm definitely thinking of ways the City of Reno can open up certain datasets to the public. I think once people start to see the practical application of the open government initiative, right down to their smartphones, they will truly feel its value.
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Kristy is known as "GovGirl" in the government technology industry. She is a former city government web manager who has a passion for social media, technology and the lighter side of government life.
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