Writing Samples re: Open Government

Here are some examples of recent writing on open government:Inaccessible Pothole Data in Chicago: documenting my unsuccesful attempts to obtain pothole data from Chicago’s Department of Transportation

And the Chicago Sun-Times references specific, detailed pothole numbers:

“The city had a daily average of 300 to 400 potholes in the days before Christmas, but the number jumped to more than 1,100 Monday, city officials said.”

These quotes indicate that the city has relatively sophisticated technology for managing street defects. They are able to track the location of potholes from the data in their 311 system. With GPS on city trucks and in city worker cell phones, they can track equipment and personnel. As workers report back on filled potholes, the city has real-time data on the exact location of street defects.

Restaurant Inspections *and* Results of Hearings Should be Published Online: highlighting a fundamental unfairness in the selective publication of government data.

There was a ton of good stuff in this article about the current state of inspections across the country. One issue is that raw inspection reports are widely available all over the Web, but the results of hearings– which is where the restaurant owner has a chance to respond to any violations– are not. As you can imagine, that rubs restaurant owners the wrong way, as they indictment is always public, but their side of the story is not.

NY Attorney General Should Practice Transparency He Preaches: pointing out that Andrew Cuomo’s own office does not meet the standards he expects from others.

We published the available data for expired items found within the city limits, and I spent weeks attempting to get a complete list of the 500 pharmacies that the Attorney General claims he sent his investigators. His office has refused to fulfill our request.

Here in March 2009 United States of America, it seems to be the simplest political shibboleth to proclaim one’s support for transparency and accountability. But I’ve also noticed that actually living up to that is often less of a priority.