Rakesh Dubbudu: My stay with Smart Chicago Collaborative

Editor’s Note: The following post is from our international fellow Rakesh Dubbudu. Rakesh spent a few weeks with us learning about civic innovation in Chicago. Rakesh works as an open data advocate in India as one of the co-conveners of the National Committee for People’s Right to Information.


Before I arrived in the USA, I was unsure of the learning & exchange during this trip. Though my interest centered on good & effective governance using technology & data, I was unclear about the specifics. During the orientation in Washington DC, I came to know that I would spend three weeks in Chicago with the ‘Smart Chicago Collaborative’. It was time for a quick google search to check what Smart Chicago was doing. I understood a little about Smart Chicago’s work.

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The Chicago Red Cross shows us the power of open source

On Tuesday November 18th, Jim McGowan with the Red Cross of Greater Chicago gave a presentation at OpenGov Hack Night about their open source project: DCSops.


The Red Cross uses DCSops to manage their situational awareness information and dispatch volunteers to an incident. This is a huge change from January when they were using carbon paper to record information about incidents.

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Add your own data sets to Plenar.io

Today, Plenar.io released a new feature that allows you to add your own data sets to Plenar.io.

Brett Goldstein Presenting Plenar.io at Code for America Summit 2014

Plenar.io was conceived as a centralized hub for open datasets from around the country. Funded by the National Science Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, and led by a team of prominent open data scientists, researchers, and developers, it is a collaborative, open-source solution to the problems inherent to the rapid growth in government data portals.

Today, the team added a new feature that allows people to submit their own datasets to be used by Plenar.io. Currently, Plenar.io is able to accept any URL to a comma separated value (CSV) or link to a dataset on a Socrata data portal (like data.cityofchicago.org) that has fields with the following attributes:

  • Unique id: a field that is guaranteed to contain a unique number for every row in the dataset, even if rows are updated
  • Observation date: a date or datetime field for each observation
  • Latitude/Longitude or Location: either two fields with latitude and longitude , or a single field with both of them formatted (latitude, longitude)

If you have a dataset that has these feilds you can enter them on the Plenar.io website and it’ll be reviewed by the team. 

Webitects & Juvenile Law Center launch site to compare policies across states

Yesterday, Webitects and Juvenile Law Center released a new site  called  Failed Policies, Forfeited Futures–A Nationwide Scorecard on Juvenile Records.


It compares how states treat juvenile records and proposes that youth should be better protected from the harmful effects of their juvenile records, including making expungement easier.

The Juvenile Law Center graded states by two measures. The first was each state’s ability to keep juvenile records confidential. The second was the ease in which these records could be expunged. The sites lets you explore the data using the map or a list or ratings.

Illinois gets two out of four stars for confidentiality because there are many offense-based exceptions to confidentiality and some records can be made available to the general public.  Illinois scored slightly higher on expungement, but would have scored higher had expungement been more automatic.

You can check out the site by going to their website here: http://juvenilerecords.jlc.org/juvenilerecords/#!/map/total