Launch of Cook County Data Web Site

Today I took part in the launch of the new data Web site for Cook County. Here’s a snip:

On Wednesday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, joined by Cook County Board Commissioner John Fritchey and Cook County Chief Information Officer Greg Wass unveiled the County’s new “Open Data” website today.  The website is an important step in the President’s continued efforts to bring transparency and accountability to County government by making more information more easily accessible to the public.

Here’s their video of the event:

The County asked me to write a short blog post on the history of open data in Chicago. Snip:

This is where it’s at– open data as a key component of other, essential policies and modes of interaction among governments and the people they serve. That’s why these efforts by Cook County– all done in the context of other data released by the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois– represent a great step forward. There is a nascent cohesiveness to open data in Chicago. Government policy, markets, consumer needs, and developers need to be in synch for us to go beyond mere data. Groups like OpenGovChicago– started and nurtured by many of the groups and people represented in this history– is one place where we gather to trade ideas. Join us!

Writing this post has been great for me because it got me in contact with colleagues who have been at this much longer than me. I am updating the post as I learn more about our rich history.

White House Champion of Change for Open Innovation

Today I was honored to be a part of the White House Champions of Change event at the White House. Here’s the White House coverage of the event:Here is a blog post I wrote this morning, with an excerpt description of the event:Whitehouse_logo

You have been selected by United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra to be highlighted as a ‘Champion of Change’, which is part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative.  As the White House executes President Obama’s plan to “out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world”, entrepreneurs like you are being recognized for the innovative work you have undertaken in your community.Each week, we feature a group of Americans who embody the President’s commitment to ‘Innovate, Educate, and Build’.CTO Aneesh Chopra and CIO Vivek Kundra as well as other Administration officials will host an Open Innovation / Champions of Change event at the White House on Friday, June 10th , 9am- 11am.

Here is some press coverage: White House Honors Unsung Open Data App Developers — (Government Technology)

And an interview:

And some images:

DXO at the White House Champions for Change event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with the Center for Digital Government

White House Champions for Change event at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with the Center for Digital Government.

My Work With The Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation

Last Fall I joined the Board of Directors for CITF, the Chicago Instructional Technology Foundation, and now that I’ve had a half-year’s worth of meetings, grant requests, and extracurricular work, I wanted to get some thoughts down here.First off, I really enjoy the rhythm and nature of a Board. I’ve served as the Chairman of the Queen of Angels School Board, and the acts of creating an agenda, communicating with members, and driving to decisions always made sense to me. I like the formality of motions, discussion, and voting– it leads to a refreshing form of accountability and discipline. I also like the labor that comes in-between meetings– the extra work that you do, usually based on your interests or skills.At the CITF, we fund media activities to promote progressive social change. That means I get to review funding applications from educators, filmmakers, and technologists who care about the same things I do, and fashion their work in ways that are meaningful. Powerful stuff.While I’m relatively new to this idea of helping decide which projects to fund, I’m more accustomed to being on the other end of the ask. At Queen of Angels I helped start the Development Committee and worked on the inevitable Annual Ball. I relied on outside funding for all of my book and drama projects in the late 80s and early/ mid 90s, and everyone was paid back.Funds make the world go around, and it’s nice to be a part of the world.

PANEL:”Why Open Data?”at Data 2.0

Today I participated in a panel at the Data 2.0 conference in San Francisco titled, “Why Open Data?“.

Governments have started opening data for many reasons: it is a politically positive action and it alleviates the responsibility of analyzing and interpreting the data internally. Social Networks open data so they can become more valuable as the hub of many spokes, since 3rd parties will develop applications that make their data more valuable. Will traditional businesses open their data? Are some forms of data such as financial data necessarily closed-off and high-priced?

One of the things I focused on in my remarks was that governments already publish a wealth of data; they just may not conceive of these efforts as a part of the “open data” movement. For example, New York City has spreadsheets of every building permit issued going back to 2003. It’s not a “data feed”, but it’s definitely useful. The nascent industry built around open government stands on the shoulders of these spreadsheet-makers.

2012 Government Selection Committee for Code for America

I’m helping out the awesome Code for America project as they figure out which cities should be a part of their next program year.

19 governments applied for our 2012 program, and it’s amazing to read about their project ideas, challenges, and passion for changing the way things work. As a growing start-up, we can only work directly with a handful next year, which is why they are selected through a competitive process. To help us evaluate these great proposals, we have put together a committee of government, industry, and thought leaders.