GovBytes: Cities Unite for Planning Nationwide Data Portal

It appears that big developments in local open government stemming from high level planning between major US cities that has been in the works since 2009 could be bearing fruit within the next few months.

A partnership of IT executives from Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco known as the Group of Seven has most recently been collaborating the launch of a shared data portal to be hosted on the Federal government’s data.gov. In addition to supporting each other on a number of shared local issues including contract negotiations and dealing with tight budgets, the G7 has had its sights on this shared platfor for some time, and for good reason.

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Mirroring the federal government’s data.gov mission to provide the public with rich machine readable datasets, the cities iteration hopes to also encourage private development of applications, analysis, and research. The success of smaller ventures in individual cities — like Boston’s Adopt a Hydrant and Chicago’s Apopt a Sidewalk app — give the G7 hope that their effort to standardize data and make certain useful sets available to all will have beneficial ends. If a developer in any of the participating cities writes a smartphone app for their community, that app could be easily replicated using compatible data in any other major city in the country, using the city data portal.

The G7 sees this as a valuable opportunity for states and the federal government to work together, sharing best practices from the recent Fed foray into data maintenance. In theory, this shared portal would increase opportunities and efficiencies across the board as successes in one community have the potential to benefit all.

As with all data ventures, the more contributors that are on board, the richer the products will be. We will see whether the city portal can attract that necessary attention when it launches later this summer.

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