UNESCO has launched a new interactive open data portal, with interactive tracking of projects across the globe and a breakdown of its total budget. The portal features a large interactive map with all of its global projects, and provides budgetary information on all projects. It also shows data according to region, sector or specific theme, with donor information, project status and in-depth project reports provided. The portal is part an increasing trend in aid agencies to publish interactive sites that display all financial information and allow for greater transparency in their work.
Technology is the easy part of building an open society. Deal with the human side of the problem is much tougher. Social enterprise expert Kate Beecroft moderated a panel at Open Source Open Society looking at how open data can lead to a more open style of government.
Ross Goldenberg, co-founder of SiteCompli, which leverages open data to help those in the New York City real estate market, believes government needs more similar tools to help bring open data to the citizens. He says SiteCompli has made the jobs of thousands of customers easier. "The ability to get more data from government, make it more public, make it more machine readable, and get it in the hands of its constituents in a meaningful manner has improved the lives of thousands," Goldenberg said.
To encourage civic engagement and increase transparency, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan signed the GO DATA executive order aimed at creating “a more open, collaborative and accountable relationship between the city government and the people it serves.” The city’s new open data portal is the first sign of the shift in city policy to make data and information available to the public. Citizens will be able to access crime reports, building and trade permits, blight remediation data among 75 individual data sets that include over 60 maps of libraries and parks. There will be nearly 400,000 individual pieces of data available pertaining to city operations. The portal will house data and information from nine participating agencies: the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department, the Detroit Police Department, Detroit Land Bank Authority, Planning and Development Department, Recreation Department, Public Works, Assessor, Department of Transportation and the city clerk.
Technology for testing water purity on the International Space Station is being remade into a simple, low-cost mobile app for evaluating water safety here on Earth -- particularly in places where waterborne disease is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five. mWater is a free system for monitoring water sources that leverages mobile technology and open data to simplify the work of water quality testing and allow people to easily find the safest water sources near them. It combines three technologies to create an integrated approach to managing water and sanitation: a global map of water sources backed by an open, scalable and secure database; a cross-platform mobile phone app for recording water sources and reporting test results; and reliable, low-cost water testing kits, according to Clayton Grassick, co-founder and chief technology officer of mWater.
While America’s largest cities have all committed to making their public data available online, some of the country’s largest states have been a little slower in adopting comprehensive official policies on open data. California, the nation’s most populous state, is looking very likely to see substantial progress this year as its legislature considers passing several open data bills during the current session.