Tuesday, June 22, 2010 - By zak - No comments

Mr. Berkowitz Goes to City Hall

Pizza isn't the only data set that New Haveners can teach New Yorkers how to perfect. Yesterday morning, New York City Council listened to Ben Berkowitz offer some tips about how New York should proceed with opening up its municipal data, to increase government accountability and encourage entrepreneurship.

"Set aggressive deadlines. It's time for this to happen," Ben told the Committee for Technology and a crowd of 50 or so gathered in a hearing room on lower Broadway. Ben stressed the importance of developing the "write side" as well as the "read side" of the city's data systems. Third parties like SeeClickFix need to be able to add to the city's databases, as well as draw from it. "It's not just listening: it's speaking up and communicating," said Ben.

While other municipalities like Washington, DC and San Francisco have positioned themselves at the forefront of open data practices by transitioning to an
Open311 API, New York City lags behind. A new bill, Introduction 029-2010 by Council Member Gale Brewer, will push all city departments to open up their data within the next few years. Yesterday's committee hearing took testimony from entrepreneurs, politicians, administrators, and educators in reference to the proposed bill.

Brewer said that she expects that "having this bill would help 311 operators answer some of their calls." SeeClickFix hopes so too. More open data practices on NYC's end would help SeeClickFix take the burden off of call centers by directing service requests to the proper authorities. Closed data policies make it harder for SeeClickFix to work with existing 311 data and service request channels.

Check out the full content of the proposed bill below. Also, see yesterday's blog post to read SeeClickFix's written testimony as submitted to the city council.

Int. 029-2010 Details


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