Following is an excerpt from a piece written by Matt Carmichel. Matt is an leader in the Open Data community. He is the Director of Information Projects at Advertising Age, and writes about data and statistics for marketing and brands.
In the last year something rather unprecedented happened. Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois each installed a newly-elected leader. Talk about your new eras. For Chicago and Cook, this meant a serious turn-over and the teams hit the ground running. At the end of the first week, Chicago’s new CTO John Tolva tweeted, “A week of being in wide-eyed reactive mode is quite enough. Time to get out in front.”
And that they did. Chicago’s open government data portal began releasing dataset after dataset — and meaningful stuff, too. All in downloadable, portable, cleansed formats for anyone to do anything with.
As a journalist, this is awesome. As a citizen it’s an impressive step.
Now, Cook county is joining the party. Newcommer commissioner John Fritchey has put together a budget visualization tool, called Look at Cook. The county itself is launching its own data portal, too. Each division is required to release at least three datasets, but more will be coming as it takes shape and expands.
But why bother? Aren’t there better ways for government to be spending its money than on Web sites for data nerds?
Yeah… No. There aren’t.
I could go on about the business case for Public Data — how it leads to innovation, which leads to go jobs. The Weather Channel, NAVTEQ, Morningstar, large portions of Google, and smaller businesses like Everyblock, Record Information Systems all have a foundation in public data and the analysis thereof.