Remarks at the White House Open Data Innovation Summit

Today I gave keynote remarks, “Open Data: Roots, Impact, and Promise” at The White House Open Data Innovation Summit. Here’s the morning agenda:


Here’s the slides:

Here’s some images:
Here’s video:

Daniel O’Neil of Ad Hoc LLC, an organization that has enabled a number of federal government agencies to scale new technologies faster, said the federal government and the public at large are at a unique point in history wherein the full potential of open data is just being realized.

“We are on the front lines of how to use open data to make real change,” said O’Neil, stressing that efforts must be made to continue moving forward “no matter what comes next.”

Launch: OpenGrid at the UIC Electronic Visualization Laboratory

Today I helped launch OpenGrid— a free, browser-based, open source mapping platform displaying Chicago’s robust collection of open datasets.

Daniel X. O'Neil at UIC EVL. Photo by Lance Long, UIC/EVL

Here’s a set of photos I took:

My role was to take part in the conceptual model of OpenGrid, working with City technology officials to plan the work, and help manage the work of the Smart Chicago tech consultant, Uturn Data Solutions.

Here’s a snip from the launch coverage in the Harvard Data-Smart City Solutions piece on the launch:

“A collaborative union between developers, residents, and government – that’s what Smart Chicago is about, and that’s what OpenGrid is about too,” O’Neil noted at the application’s launch. “This is why we’re on it.”  To build the service layer, Smart Chicago commissioned UTurn Data Solutions, a local IT consultancy focused data storage and Cloud computing projects.

Presentation: The Inefficacy of Dots on Maps at Chi Hack Night

Tonight I gave a few remarks at Chi Hack Night #188: Introducing Open Grid. Take a look at the original source video or see the snip below.

Here’s how Chris Hagan of WBEZ covered these remarks in his article, “Chicago launches OpenGrid, latest step in making open data more accessible“:

Dan O’Neil, executive director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, which assisted on the project, reminded developers that tools such as OpenGrid are a first step. He pointed out that despite Chicago’s advances in open data, problems such as police misconduct have arguably gotten worse.

“There are no dots on a map that stopped that from happening,” O’Neil said. “There is no set of crime statistics that stopped that from happening. We have to find ways to have communion with people who are not here.”

Communion is what matters.

Talk: Schwabe Symposium 2015: Big, Open, Crowd-sourced and Exhaust(ed)!

Today I gave a talk called, “Crowd-sourcing public health: The Foodborne Chicago Project” at the Schwabe Symposium 2015: Big, Open, Crowd-sourced and Exhaust(ed)!

Here’s the abstract for the conference:

Evolution in technology has made the possibilities for data collection, information-exchange, networking, and data integration limitless. Using new and emerging technologies to conduct research, promote animal or human health behavior change and facilitate decision making is fast becoming the norm. Grassroots communication efforts have stimulated technological innovations that are facilitating social change (e.g., Crisis Commons and Ushahidi), capturing epidemiological trends (e.g., Google Flu; Bernardo et al., 2013), driving the development of the so-called ‘quantified self’ and transforming the nature of human and animal health systems (e.g., Patients Like Me, I-Cow, LifeLearn Sofie).

What do these technological advances mean for veterinary epidemiology? What is the impact on our methodologies? How may they impact our pedagogy? Are they transformational (or disrupting) forces in epidemiological research and veterinary medicine?

We have invited a prestigious group of speakers to share models and insight for the use of emerging technologies for research, public and animal health, and clinical practice. A key aspect of the symposium is a panel question and answer session on how these novel data sources impact research, teaching and practice in veterinary medicine and epidemiology.


News Story: Chicago police misconduct records published online

Today marks the publication of more than 56,000 complaints alleging misconduct by Chicago Police Department by the Invisible Institute.  Crain’s Chicago wrote a story: Chicago police misconduct records published online. Here’s the framing:

Chicago has championed using technology to present granular civic information on everything from towed vehicles to food inspections, in ways that improve citizens’ lives. But starting today, the public can easily access one data set the city had fought hard to keep secret.

And here’s what I had to say:

One of the leaders of Chicago’s open data movement, Dan O’Neil said he was eager to see the new database. O’Neil currently heads the Smart Chicago Collaborative and was a co-founder of Everyblock. While Chicago has positioned itself as a leader in publishing civic data, citizens still have “a right and a responsibility” to request data from the government. Some of Smart Chicago’s own initiatives highlight gaps in the information available on the criminal justice system.

“It just goes to show you that we’re certainly not in an era of default transparency,” he said.

Panel: Mind Bytes— Current and Future Urban Challenges: The Role of Big Data and Technology

Today I participated in a panel for Mind Bytes. Here’s a description:

Projections show that urbanization, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050. Exponential growth in urban density and cities brings numerous challenges and opportunities, both in the short and long term. Various types of data are being collected and analyzed today that may provide answers to the big questions faced by cities in the 21st century. This panel will discuss current and future urban challenges, and how big data and technology is being used and can be used in the future to overcome them.

I covered the need for more focus on social science, in addition to data science, in efforts to help cities grow in equity.

I also got a lot out of a question from the audience about data, tech, privacy and Hollywood— we should do more to engage with audiences of Criminal Minds, CSI, and Person of Interest, and other such shows about the ramifications and reality of the plots and devices.

Panel: The Future of Story Telling in a Data-driven World

Today I participated in a panel in the Tech Breakfast Club: The Future of Story Telling in a Data-driven World. Here’s a description:

Experts from Narrative Science, the Smart Chicago Collaborative and Nuveen Investments will share examples of how marketers are marrying data and natural language technologies to automate routine reports and craft stories that haven’t previously been told.

Panelists were Katy De Leon, Vice President, Marketing, Narrative Science; Daniel X. O’Neil, Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative; and Andrew Champ, Vice President, Marketing Services, Nuveen Investments. Facilitated by Dan O’Brien, Chief Executive, Tech Image.

I talked about the raw info that is tossed off all the time by municipalities— building permits, restaurant inspections, and other daily detritus of the city. This stuff can be used as nodes of knowledge for those who are paying attention.


Radio: Tech Shift: What does Chicago’s Homan Square say about Chicago’s open data?

Today I talked on WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift about the need for people-focused, not data-focused civic tech. Here’s a description:

If you go to the city’s data portal, you’ll find a database of more than 5 million crimes reported in the city since 2001. It’s one of the largest sets of its kind in the country, and a major success in the history of open data. But recently the Chicago Police Department has received more attention for the information they aren’t releasing. Allegations of off-the-books activity at CPD’s Homan Square facility have called into question just how open the city has been. Dan O’Neil has been a key part of the city’s open data community for years, including helping to found EveryBlock and now as Executive Director of the Smart Chicago Collaborative. He joins us in studio.

Here’s a downloaded copy of the audio:

Lastly, here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject.