Detroit drives toward open data
- By Mark Pomerleau
- Apr 15, 2015
To encourage civic engagement and increase transparency, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan signed the GO DATA executive order aimed at creating “a more open, collaborative and accountable relationship between the city government and the people it serves.”
The city’s new open data portal is the first sign of the shift in city policy to make data and information available to the public.
Citizens will be able to access crime reports, building and trade permits, blight remediation data among 75 individual data sets that include over 60 maps of libraries and parks. There will be nearly 400,000 individual pieces of data available pertaining to city operations.
The portal will house data and information from nine participating agencies: the Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department, the Detroit Police Department, Detroit Land Bank Authority, Planning and Development Department, Recreation Department, Public Works, Assessor, Department of Transportation and the city clerk.
Detroit’s portal is powered by cloud software provider Socrata, which has helped many municipalities open their data. The company recently partnered with Yelp to assist with municipal health inspections and with Utah and Texas on their open data portals.
“Our goal is to help governments use one of the most valuable and new natural resources – open data – to drive outcomes and impact with their constituents. Ultimately, fact-based and data-driven government will become the fundamental basis for all critical and strategic decisions made in the public sector everywhere,” Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt stated.
Along with the move to open city data, Detroit Mayor Duggan is signaling he wants to make Detroit’s services more accessible to its citizens. The city recently launched a mobile-friendly website and an app showing the real-time locations of city buses, and just introduced a 311 app that lets residents report municipal services issues. Once the report has been submitted, the Improve Detroit app will route the issue to the appropriate department and generate a work order that is tracked and accessible to the general public. The app sends automatic notifications allowing the person submitting the complaint to track the issue and when it’s resolved, the mayor said.
Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.