Nate Nash tweeted today about a new site from the Distict of Columbia. I’ve been checked it out for the last 30 minutes and felt I had to blog about it. The site, and what it enables is awesome. It provides public access to city operational data through the Internet. It allows users to subscribe to live data feeds in Atom format and access data in XML, Text/CSV, KML or ESRI Shapefile formats. The awesome thing is the kind of data that is being provided. It allows for RSS feeds on
- Crime incidents
- Current construction projects
- Purchase orders
- Juvenile Arrests and Charges and more
I think this is a standard that many other city and local government authorities should aspire to. This provides for a great level of transparency and accountability – especially in the areas of crime, construction and procurement. Imagine being able to see and analyse all the purchase orders that are being raised by the city authority! I know of many local government entities that do not even provide this kind of information to their own employees e.g. within their finance departments.
Much of the data on the site can also be mashed up with google maps to provide locations of construction projects, crime incidents etc. This mashing up of operational data reveals an extraordinary insight into what is happening in particular areas.
This is a kind of gold standard of data transparency all other local authorities should be judged against.