Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched a $42 million initiative to help cities use open data better. The What Works Cities initiative partners with the Harvard Kennedy School, Johns Hopkins University, Results for America, and the Sunlight Foundation, to provide technical training to 100 mid-sized cities (with population between 100,000 to 1,000,000) chosen from the ones that apply.
Government reformers and advocates believe that two contemporary phenomena hold the potential to change how people engage with governments at all levels. The first is data. There is more of it than ever before and there are more effective tools for sharing it. This creates new service-delivery possibilities for government through use of data that government agencies themselves collect and generate. The second is public desire to make government more responsive, transparent and effective in serving citizens — an impulse driven by tight budgets and declining citizens’ trust in government.
Sunlight has joined a collaboration called the What Works Cities initiative, a three-year, nationwide program to accelerate the use of data and evidence in American cities. The initiative aims to help local governments make better use of the data they create in order to engage the public, make government more effective and improve people’s lives.
Carl Cullinane, the project lead behind the Democratic Dashboard, a voter information resource making constituency data open and accessible in the run-up to the UK’s General Election says there’s a big difference between open data and accessible data. “The UK has made great strides in making data open, but it is spread so diffusely across multiple websites, with many different methods of formatting and storage, that it’s really not very user friendly. We hope that our data will be both open and accessible to all types of people.”