I share many of the same feelings about Lexington as the other ProgressLex board members. While our specific interests range from civic engagement to the arts to good design, the goal is always the same, to help Lexington be one of the best cities in America.
My particular interest, open data, derives from my analytical and geeky side. Linked to open government and transparency, open data is the nucleus of transparent government. Open data continues to become increasingly available from the White House to the county seat. That progression of open data has found its way to the Bluegrass. Along with my fellow civic hackers, and with support Code for America, we’re helping Lexington with the challenges of opening data up to the public.
It has been a productive year towards this goal of open local data. In April, OpenLexington, Collexion, the University of Kentucky, and LFUCG hosted an unconference CityCampLex to bring together geeks and government. From presentations of academic work to a DIY balloon mapping demonstration, there was much to discuss.
The main focus was on the technologies and details of opening local data. In this discussion, we looked to other pioneering cities and the open source tools and data sets they provide on the web. One popular mechanism for hosting data is with a catalog that can either be a respository of links, data sets, or both. For the entire afternoon at CityCampLex, we worked together on how to install such a catalog at LFUCG. A few weeks later, we finalized our own adaptation of the Open Data Catalog used by dozens of other cities.
Much like the open data catalogs started in other cities, like OpenDataPhilly, Lexington will soon have its own open data catalog where data collected from across LFUCG and other local government entities can deposit data for public use.
I am very excited for open data in Lexington. When the data is available, we can really start to think about what useful applications to build, what information we can overlay on a standard street map, and how can we best leverage this information to help Lexington. All of this is possible through the combined efforts of volunteer programmers, designers, technologists, researchers, students, and citizens.
Already, I think this has been a big year for open data in the Bluegrass. I’m grateful for all of the hard work that everyone has put in to get to this point. I look forward to sharing future announcements when the catalog is in place and data is ready to consume. I look forward to app challenges, code-a-thons, and future unconferences centered around using our data for good.