Dan O’Neil on WBEZ re: the Limits of Open Data

WBEZ LogoOn Monday, Smart Chicago Executive Director Dan O’Neil went on WBEZ’s Tech Shift to talk about what the Homan Square story says about open data in Chicago.

Dan wrote a blog post on both the Smart Chicago blog and his own personal blog with his thoughts on the issue.

Dan spoke about how he’s been a big fan of the open data policy, but that we’ve run right against the limits of open data. Some things are just not publishable, and data that does get published has limited utility. The crime incident data, for instance, has always been limited and the city’s always been upfront about it. (More here.)

Dan also spoke about how the Open Data movement has had the general idea that if we release data, steps 2-10 (the civic innovation) will occur all on it’s own and how this may not be true.

Dan stated that we can’t have a data-first solution for civic tech. We have to start with people and with what they know.

Boohood also asked about the recent discovery of missing crime data on the data portal that was uncovered by the Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown blog.  Dan responded by stating that the people who ran the blog did a great service – they used the portal to find a specific case – spoke out about it – and resulted in more data being added.

Here’s the whole interview:

Smart Chicago and the Chicago Department of Transportation launch Textizen campaign for placemaking

CDOT Textizen Poster

We’re partnering with the Chicago Department of Public Transportation to help get citizen feedback on their Chicago Complete Streets Program.

CDOT is using flyers and posters on the Chicago Transit Authority asking Chicago residents to take a quick text survey about how they want to see Chicago’s street spaces improved.

Smart Chicago is helping CDOT through our CivicWorks Project through our Textizen account. Textizen’s web platform sends, receives, and analyzes text messages so you can reach the people you serve with the technology already in their pocket, 24/7.

We are a customer of Textizen because we believe in their product and we believe in helping them make it even better. By connecting them with organizations like CDOT, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for their Public Art Plan, and the Metropolitan Planning Council for transit-oriented development in Logan Square, we’re able to fund not just projects, but products.

All of this leads to a stronger civic innovation sector of the technology industry, one that can support itself with revenue driven by software that people love.

Christopher Whitaker runs the CivicWorks project and has been his amazing self in pulling together this initiaitve. CDOT has also launched a campaign on Chideas.org to get ideas from Chicago residents about placemaking in Chicago.

For more information, you can visit CDOT’s Complete Streets website at http://chicagocompletestreets.org/. If you would like to get started on your own texting campaign for civic engagement, take a look at our Developer Resources.


New Dataset from the City Clerk’s Office: Residential Parking Zones

This morning, Susana Mendoza, the City Clerk of Chicago,  is set to release a new dataset to the City’s data portal: residential parking zone data. Here’s a link: https://data.cityofchicago.org/Transportation/Parking-Permit-Zones/u9xt-hiju. The data provides the starting and end points of all street segments that the City Council has designated as parking for residents.

WIcker Park, Late November Morning with Bright Sun

This data set is already going to have several organizations (including us) using the data. We’ll outline the efforts below the fold:

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Chicago launches a new PlowTracker

Chicago has seen it’s first snow flurries – which can only mean one thing…the return of Chicago’s PlowTracker! This year, it’s been updated with new features to help residents find where the plows are.

A line of snow plows barricades Roosevelt Road

In previous iterations, the plow tracker showed one icon regardless of the direction it’s moving. Now, the icons have been updated to indicated the direction of the plow. The map itself is also bigger and displays snowfall readings for the current storm.

The Plow Tracker can be found here and will be activated during major snow events.

Join the City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology

The City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology is hiring a Senior Database Analyst to help coordinate the operationalization of their data research.

City Hall 4

City Hall, Photo by Chris Smith

We talked with Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk Jr to learn more about the work of the Department of Innovation and Technology and the position he’s hiring for.

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