Local developers at 2009 Aspiration tech event, http://www.flickr.com/photos/geodog/4121716700/
Monday night, the City Council is supposed to finally vote on a resolution to support an Open Data process for the city of Oakland. What this means on a practical level is that the city will agree to move toward processes where data that citizen tax dollars generate - i.e., just about all the "public" data in the city of Oakland, can be stored and recorded in formats that will allow export and reuse by developers and citizens in appropriate circumstances.
"Does that mean my tax data is going to be made public?" you might ask. "Or the complaint I filed against my neighbor because of her neglected dog?"
The data the resolution asks to make accessible (not public, but accessible) aren't so much specific records relating to private citizens, but city government, licensing and Oakland police data that are already a matter of public records - we just can't access those records today without a long, laborious and often unsuccessful process.
What could open data do for our city?
Plenty. Some examples:
That's all nice, but for many of the people who are the most intense about having Oakland pass this resolution. Like Ratna Amin and Steve Spiker, the value is in the promise of what having access to this data might allow tech developers to do.
What if Oakland could be like New York City, they ask, and actually support tech folks who wanted to build apps to make the city work better - and benefit citizens?
From my perspective, though, there are yet more reasons to work to make this resolution pass and then act to make it so:
I'd like to see this resolution pass.
Code for Oakland 2 planning is kicking off this week; wouldn't it be amazing to have the next event and know that the city was moving in a direction where programmers could easily build tools to benefit our city and its residents all the time?