Friday, August 21, 2009

San Francisco launch city data website,
To: Open Government

Mayor Newsom Launches to Improve Access to City Data

Challenges San Francisco’s technology community to create new software applications from city data

08/19/09 - Today, joined by technology leaders, Mayor Newsom announced the launch of, an initiative designed to improve access to government data. The new web site will provide a clearinghouse of structured, raw and machine-readable government data to the public in an easily downloadable format. For example, there will be updatedcrime incident data from the San Francisco Police Department and restaurant inspection data from the Department of Public Health.

"By bringing city data and communities together on, we hope to stimulate local industry, create jobs and nurture San Francisco’s creative culture," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "We imagine developers taking apartment listings and city crime data and mashing it up to help renters find their next home or an iPhone application that shows restaurant ratings based on the highest health code ratings."

The initial version of includes more than 100 datasets, from a range of city departments, including the San Francisco Police Department, Department of Public Works, and the Municipal Transportation Agency.

"We’re excited to see San Francisco embrace President Obama’s call for transparency through the launch of," said Beth Noveck, Federal Deputy Chief Technology Officer leading President Obama’s Open Government Initiative. "We encourage other state and local governments to recognize the value of open data as Mayor Newsom has." is part of a larger Open Gov Initiative for the City and County of San Francisco, which focuses on open data, open participation and open source. The City’s effort to improve access to government data has already led to the creation of new software applications. Earlier this summer, the Department of Environment released recycling data that was used by a third party to create EcoFinder, an iPhone application that helps residents recycle based on their location.

"The Department of Technology is excited by the opportunity to work more closely with the technology community to lower costs and drive innovation in government," said Chief Information Officer for the City of San Francisco, Chris Vein. "The success of civic tools like the EcoFinder iPhone app clearly demonstrate the value of opening government data."
I've been talking about open source as a platform plank for years. This key point is not yet been understood nor deployed in Pittsburgh, even with the so-called maverick, Bill Peduto.

Years ago I started a Google Calendar for public meetings held at City Hall. That's a no-brainer that has still not been deployed. Often, they don't want the public to know when the meetings are going to occur.

End the software license agreements with Microsoft and turn to Linux and and the Open Document format as a standard.

Stream the audio of the city council meetings, ethics board meetings, planning board meetings, citizens police review meetings, and such onto I want to listen to those meetings on the telephone when I'm walking downtown, as they are happening. I want to listen to the meetings as podcasts after they occur.

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