02/19/2013 by Cheryl Getuiza
City of Oakland jumps on transparency bandwagon
The sun rises over construction on the Oakland Bridge. (Photo Credit: Telstar Logistics)
Ever wonder where you can find a city park with a pool near your home? Or where you and your family can view some local art? Or track crime rates around your kid’s school? Well, finding all of this information just got easier for residents of the city of Oakland.
The city recently launched its Open Data Platform, joining the ranks of other forward-thinking government organizations around the world. City leaders hope the site will lead to increased civic engagement and government transparency, improved decision making, and more efficient and effective service of delivery.
“Transparency leads to increased trust in City Government and more engaged residents. We’re seeing an exciting growth in hackathon’s and collaborative efforts; tapping this collective intelligence and drawing different points of view will foster new ideas and innovative solutions to challenges faced by the City of Oakland,” said Oakland mayor Jean Quan.
City leaders hope the website will act as a one stop shop of public data. Residents can download the data, request additional datasets, create their own unique maps and charts they can share through social media sites as well as add any feedback or ideas on how to improve the site.
By opening up its data, the community gets a better view into the inner workings of local government.
So far there are over 50 datasets on the site including:
- Crime statistics
- City infrastructure
- 2010 census data
- Parks and Recreation facilities
- Oakland certified green businesses
The data catalog will grow over time as city employees discover or aggregate new data or as new data is suggested by folks.
“Public input is a key ingredient to the success of our Open Data initiative. We are interested in hearing feedback from the community about the usefulness of the posted datasets and what data people would like to see us launch next,” said Nicole Neditch, city of Oakland’s Online Engagement Manager. “By collaborating with the community we encourage the growth of niche markets, and grow apps and tools locally that address our community’s needs.”
Earlier this month, California Forward shared a video piece on the city of Palo Alto’s Open Data Platform. The city launched its platform last August.
Real accountability begins with empowering the public with easy access to information and budgeting of civic leaders.
Local governments who provide the data in an easy manner are on the right track to building better relationships with its residents.