How Open Data Could Serve in the City

Is Open Data finally making its presence felt in cities? The answer is yes as more and more cities are striving to become smart. If you want answers to questions like where did your dog go? How many lobbyists are in your city? If you want to get from 13th street to Main Road, should you take a bike, the subway or a ride? All such questions can now be answered easily in cities with the help of open data.

Whether you plan to start a business, find cheap rental property, manage your power consumption or intend to stay clear of crime-ridden neighborhoods, open data can help you live in a hassle-free manner in the cities. Today, an increasing number of cities and their residents across the globe are discovering and exploring the tremendous power that “open data”, or information and public data from the government have in their lives. This data can help in providing solutions to severe civic problems as well as for creation of new business opportunities.

When open data is available for various sectors namely healthcare, education, transportation and more, municipal governments are actually supporting the civil society organization, app developers and others in finding innovative and new methodologies for tackling urban problems. Any city that is focused towards promotion of economic development and increase in entrepreneurship can appreciate the importance of open data as a new and valuable resource.

Increasing use of open data in U.S. cities

The city of Chicago for example has been promoting the use of open data and has thus resulted in an open and strong government community. Chicago has over 600 online data sets and there are millions of page views on its portal. In fact, throughout the United States of America, you would find several data driven apps and sites that aim to enhance services, engage the citizens and offer comprehensive understanding of the various government operations.

Open data movements in other urban areas have seen an increasing trend for several years now in several cities in the United States of America namely Washington, San Francisco and New York being in the forefront. A growing number of entrepreneurs, government officials and civic hackers are appreciating the importance of open data. This has in turn led to the inclusion of applications that can be used in several cities and can also be customized according to the specific requirements of an individual city.

Some examples

There are organizations like Govini and OpenGov that help the residents of a city and the city managers to assess finances, evaluate overtime of police department and monitor several other factors that can help them to draw a comparison between the performance of their city versus that of neighboring municipalities.

There are other new ventures that are utilizing the city data and providing its residents with practical and useful information. One of the finest instances is NextBus, that makes use of the data related to metropolitan transportation, and informs the daily commuters about when they can expect a bus on their route. Commuter apps like NextBus have become quite common and popular in many cities in the United States of America and around the globe as well. There is a web portal called SpotCrime that endeavors to collect, analyze and then map statistics related to crime to inform the dwellers in a city about the areas that are safe or risky. The site also sends crime alerts. Purple Binder, based in the city of Chicago, assists people in order to find healthcare services in the city.

Final word

Thus, enhanced availability of open data and increasing data analysis will allow the city dwellers to visualize a future where there will be radical transformation of city services resulting in seamless operations and delivery of services from the government to the residents.