The movement towards open data first began in the US and the UK, and is now expanding rapidly to cities and communities all over the world. The success of these new practices has sparked the development of new technologies and programs in support of openness and transparency that are now being implemented by many different organizations, industries, and even governments. These technologies were designed to make the publication of data on the internet quick and easy, and accessible by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
While the innate benefits of a more transparent and accountable society are quite clear, there often arises the issue of how to go about making these fundamental changes. Much of the potential of open data is lost without the tools to properly collect, process, merge, and make sense of that information. Luckily, more and more tools are being made available that are harnessing the potential of open data, and translating it into tangible information; thus, bridging the information gap and creating a society with greater openness and transparency for all.
Here are just a few of the tools available that are using the power of open data for the benefit of the government and the community:
See Click Fix - Community Maintenance/Safety
See Click Fix is a platform developed to better engage citizens with their community by giving them the ability to report any non-emergency issues or patterns they observe in their area. Once a problem has been reported, others can search by keyword or region and locate that issue. Through this self-reinforcing loop, communities become more empowered to take care of their neighbourhoods, and in turn, governments become more aware of the issues within each area, and become more accountable for finding solutions.
FireStop – Emergency Response Assistance
FireStop is a cloud-based software which increases the scope of data available to firefighters, providing benefits for responders before, during, and after the call. Firefighters can quickly and conveniently share with one another essential information regards the site of the call. In addition, Firestop is provides an effect way of collecting and analyzing call data such as response time, use of resources, and conditions of the response site, which can be used to improve operational strategies for incidents in the future.
Placemeter is an urban intelligence software which uses camera footage to reveal hidden patterns and strategic opportunities that may otherwise have never been discovered. By analyzing pedestrian and vehicular traffic, Placemeter turns the day-to-day movement behaviours of a society into meaningful data. This information can then be utilized by business owners, realtors, city planners and governments when strategizing the best and most effective decisions based on each specific area.
Open Counter is an online interface designed to guide citizens through the process of obtaining a permit. Open Counter improved communications between residents and City Hall by translating municipal code into intuitive instructions. It is uniquely configured for each city’s rules and regulations, and uses a sophisticated rules engine to calculate permit requirements, fees, and timelines for a specific project. Not only does this assist city residents and entrepreneurs, but governments can benefit from the data this service provides for job creation, as well as the delivery of city services in existence.
NextRequest is a cloud-based public records management portal which provides a central location for all information and communications regarding a public records request. Information is translated into an open database where citizens can ask questions and make document requests and receive responses online in real-time. In addition, this system allows for the collection of metrics which allow for the identification of high-demand information, which can then be flagged for site visitors and thus cut down on repeat requests.
CKAN is an open-source free software that is used by governments, organizations and communities around the world to streamline data so that it can be easily discoverable and presentable to the viewing public. Data catalogues created using CKAN can display data using interactive tables, graphs or maps, with options for users to make comments and easily share that information with others. This system makes it easy for citizens to search for keywords and filter information in order to find exactly what they are looking for.
OpenGov - Government Data Reporting
OpenGov is software for public sector budgeting, reporting, and open data with a focus on streamlining the government budgeting process and making government data accessible and easy to analyze. Through its Smart Government Platform, OpenGov offers a complete suite of software products, all designed to enable public agencies to make data-driven decisions, improve budgeting and planning, and inform elected officials and citizens.
Mo’mix Solutions is an all-encompassing transparency solution. Mo’mix provides a fully integrated and cloud-based performance management platform designed for government and education organizations. Using interactive dashboards, Mo’mix supports transparency and open data for better performance insight, and the ability to share information with the public, such as spending, budget to actual, revenue. It enables data to be captured, transformed and shared in meaningful ways, allowing the audience to be more engaged and involved with operations.
Each of the technologies discussed in this blog have found highly unique and strategic ways of harnessing the potential of open data with a central public forum. As demonstrated above, open data has the innate ability to improve daily life within a community, and help governments stay connected with residents and be transparent and accountable to their specific needs.
Government of any size can harness the power of open data. What technologies are your local government using in their commitment to open government data?