2012-08-13

Co.Exist

U.S. Cities Unify Their Data To Make All Cities Smarter

Data.gov has opened up a new section for municipal data, so you can find out how much money mayors make or, more helpfully, create apps or programs to help make city life easier.

Chicago, Seattle, New York, and San Francisco are now in one place. Data.gov, the federal government’s warehouse for public data, has opened its doors to America’s major cities at cities.data.gov. It’s a one-stop data shop for wired towns in the U.S., where mayors and their chief information offers (CIOs) are inviting the public to take on major civic issues, or just download some virtual keys to their metropolises.

“I think it’s really going to open people’s eyes to the power of data and what we can all do with it,” San Francisco’s CIO Jon Walton told Government Technology. “If we get people out of these silos, and we start sharing it, the development community, the public, the government itself, we’re going to see more and more benefits over time.”

Almost any kind of data is available. New York’s electricity consumption by zip code or salaries of everyone on Chicago’s payroll from foster grandparents ($2,756.00) to Mayor Rahm Emmanuel himself ($216,210) are there. City sponsored apps and "data challenges," some offering more than $100,000 in prizes, are also free.

A group of seven CIOs in major U.S. cities launched the effort, but it’s only getting started. Walton says about 90% of San Francisco’s data is up on the site, while other cities are still in the process of opening up their information. "I think open data is bigger than any one city," he says. "Cities.data.gov represents an example of cities moving beyond doing data just for their city or just for their jurisdiction and starting to share data on a unified platform."

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