4th IODC

Blog IODC 2016
Madrid. October 6-7, 2016


Making Cities Smarter With Open Data

June 8, 2015 by IODC0

A guest post from Lynne McAvoy

Moderator David Eaves led a thought-provoking panel discussion at the 3rd International Open Data Conference 2015 (#iodc15 #cities) on the value of open data for cities with representatives from various municipalities throughout the world. The panel included Amen Ra Mashariki, New York City’s Chief of Data Analytics, Guillermo Moncecchi, Uruguay’s Deputy Minister of Industry, Energy, and Mining, Harout Chitilian, City of Montréal’s City Councillor, and Tuty Kusumawati, Head of Jakarta’s Regional Planning Development Board.

Amen Ra Mashariki started the discussion on work being done through the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) to enable access to open datasets. New York City has an open data law, considered to be one of the most comprehensive pieces of open data legislation in the US. The vision is to “Engage and empower all New Yorkers through open data”. The Office hopes to increase transparency by working with the community to identify areas where open data will provide the most value. The goal of this work is to discover hidden talent, and reach underserved communities. By making the data more easily accessible and useable, everyone can use the data. Mashariki wants “open data to be a verb, not a noun” using a two-phase approach: open the data and then build the open data ecosystem. A key to the success of the New York City efforts was that the various agencies released New York City data, not agency data. Users had the buy-in of contributing to the whole, and were engaged. The MODA philosophy on open data is to engage the data community, demonstrate the value of the data, and provide results. When applied to the New York City Business Atlas, they could show that high-quality open data provides opportunity by enabling a quick overview of population demographics and economic indicators using a base-map approach.

Guillermo Moncecchi from Montevideo, Uruguay  talked about their Datos abiertos initiative. In 2010, the Mayor of Uruguay agreed to the principles of open data and the Open Data Charter was developed shortly after.  Releasing datasets was an easy win, since people were open to sharing both data and knowledge, however the need for awareness, data science, data skills, computational and statistical thinking have become crucial as we move toward the next step in the data revolution.

A new Mayor was the catalyst for change in the City of Montréal, as he decided to focus on turning the city into a smart, digital city using open data principles. Harout Chitilian described how a CKAN-based platform was publicly-launched in 2013. It was developed based on the 4Cs: collecting data, communicating the data to the citizens, coordinating data and the resources of the city, and the key factor, collaborating  with the community. Next steps include further defining governance for the various levels of government: higher-level bodies have roads and highways data, but there is also taxi data and operations data for snow removal that could lead to interesting results.  Chitilian said that initially, the thought was that releasing the data was sufficient, but they now see that they must go further to provide data visualization using open data platforms. As he looks toward the future of open data, he sees increased efficiency, along with trust and transparency in open data, and a means of benchmarking against other cities, using common indicators.

Tuty Kusumawati participated in the session on behalf of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Governor of Jakarta. She very quickly shared the message that fraud and corruption in public and private dealings were rampant in Jakarta, and that the government must win back the trust of citizens, who now demand responsiveness and transparency. Jakarta is very media-oriented, and with meetings uploaded to YouTube, there are more than 100,000 subscribers, and 23,000,000 viewers. Jakarta’s budgeting process is scrutinized at every step, since the budget has been made accessible. Digital ID cards are being used as a means of holding people accountable, including vendors. Jakarta is the top contributor to Indonesia’s data portal and is fully committed to building a strong partnership with citizens, inviting everyone to contribute and opening doors for global partnerships.

Civic engagement, media coverage, coupled with political oversight and accountability were seen as the formula for ensuring open data’s success.

Implementing a digital strategy is seen as being more easily achievable at the city level than at the higher levels of government. The close relationship with the federal government (for New York City) is seen to be more around data sharing than around policy. As Harout Chitilian said, “The important thing to remember is to remain focused on the challenges of your citizens, and their needs”. In order for open data policy to last, it must become the system.


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