Columbia Journalism Review:”A See-Through Society”

Here’s a great article by Micah Sifry that has a pretty long take on Chicago Works For You:Columbia Journalism Review: A See-Through Societywww.cjr.org/feature/a_see-through_society.php?page=all

People are eager for access to information, and public officials who try to stand in the way will discover that the Internet responds to information suppression by routing around the problem. Consider the story of a site you’ve never seen, ChicagoWorksForYou.com. In June 2005, a team of Web developers working for the city of Chicago began developing a site that would take the fifty-five different kinds of service requests that flow into the city’s 311 database—items like pothole repairs, tree-trimming, garbage-can placement, building permits, and restaurant inspections—and enable users to search by address and “map what’s happening in your neighborhood.” The idea was to showcase city services at the local level.

ChicagoWorks was finished in January 2006, with the support of Mayor Richard Daley’s office. But it also needed to be reviewed by the city’s aldermen and, according to a source who worked on the project, “they were very impressed with its functionality, but they were shocked at the possibility that it would go public.” Elections were coming up, and even if the site showed 90 percent of potholes being filled within thirty days, the powers-that-be didn’t want the public to know about the last 10 percent. ChicagoWorksForYou.com was shelved.