Since September, the city of Chicago has had a new chief data officer, though news of the appointment went under the radar until recently. Tom Schenk, who previously served as the city’s director of analytics and open data portal, took the post more than a year after the departure of Brett Goldstein.
Schenk is now charged with implementing the directives outlined in the city’s Open Data Report, which include releasing more data to the public to create a more efficient government, expand the use of social and digital media to increase public engagement, and consolidate IT services to improve service delivery. Schenk noted the city has made strides in its open data efforts through the release of red light camera data, the launch of an Open Data Portal Status blog, and a project that uses text mining to identify popular Freedom of Information Act requests.
“Getting more data onto the data portal is going to be key, but we’re also going to be looking to improve the experience with more documentation and a better interface," he told the Chicago Tribune. Schenk also mentioned interest in launching more research projects, including one on food inspections to be published in about one week. Chicago is among the nation’s most aggressive leaders of the open data movement, and Schenk says his leadership of the 15-person office will help improve life in the city and help government run more efficiently.