Share best practices, tips & tricks and discuss digital communication as it applies to your daily government lives.
Reach more people and get those people to take action.
City of Chicago’s Data Dictionary
November 13, 2013 at 5:54 pm #180839
Last month, the City of Chicago launched their Data Dictionary, which houses public data from the city’s agencies in an easily accessible, user-friendly platform. The dictionary will house 177 databases (and continue to grow), including data from education, health and human services, public workers, public safety and housing. This means anyone, including businesses and technology start ups, can access public data to become more informed and hold their government accountable. In addition, businesses and start ups can leverage all of this information to create innovative tools that increase efficiencies and improve the lives of citizens.
According to an article in StateScoop, the dictionary is part of a larger plan to “publicize and centralize city records and internal service operations.” Chicago has been doing a lot to become more transparent and accessible. In fact, Chicago received a national transparency award from the Sunshine Review, a nonprofit organization dedicated to government transparency.
Governments at all levels are working to become more open, transparent and user-friendly, but it’s often easier said than done. Chicago is an excellent example and provides several best practices for making your data more open and accessible:
- Senior leadership/stakeholder buy-in. For projects to be successful, key stakeholders and senior leadership must be on-board with the strategy to rally others and make it a priority. Chicago’s Data Dictionary stems from the Mayor’s overall vision of a more open city and is only one piece of the greater strategy.
- Private/Public Partnerships– Leveraging the private sector is important in any project, particularly large tech projects. The City of Chicago worked with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago research center to quickly and effectively develop the Data Dictionary. They are also working with civic technologists to ensure they keep up with innovative solutions.
- Start small– Data Dictionary launched with 177 databases, but continue to add new ones everyday. By starting small, and being agile, it is easier to see what is working, what is not and how to improve quickly.
- Show value to citizens– Open data and user-friendly websites are only as good as the number of people that use them. Data can be accessible, but how easy is it to find? Websites can be re-designed but are they still easy to navigate? If all this is true, do people know what is available to them? It’s important to get these new tools and initiatives in front of the public so they can be fully leveraged. Basically, get your message out there.
Open government means an engaged and informed public. I encourage you to learn more about Chicago’s Data Dictionary here.
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