On Wednesday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, joined by Cook County Board Commissioner John Fritchey and Cook County Chief Information Officer Greg Wass unveiled the County’s new “Open Data” website today. The website is an important step in the President’s continued efforts to bring transparency and accountability to County government by making more information more easily accessible to the public.
“When I was sworn into office in December, I said that this is the time to open Cook County government to its citizens; to make County government work for its residents. This site puts those words into action,” said Preckwinkle. “I know that the historic lack of transparency and accountability has eroded the legitimacy of Cook County government in many residents’ eyes. Quite simply, a government that is transparent and accountable to its residents is a more effective government.”
In April 2011, President Preckwinkle and Commissioner Fritchey introduced a “Cook County Open Government Ordinance” designed to “increase transparency, accountability, and informed public participation” in Cook County. The ordinance, which passed the Board unanimously in May, requires Cook County agencies and elected officials to prepare open government plans, to develop data catalogs, and to post at least three “high value” datasets for the County website.
The website is composed of over 75 data sets from more than 40 departments and agencies throughout the County. LINK: http://data.cookcountyil.gov
Featured data sets include a Year-to-Date map of Foreclosures in Cook County and a Map of Outpatient Registrations with in the Cook County Health and Hospital System (CCHHS) – the beginning of a more accurate look at who uses CCHHS resources. The data sets reflect the most up-to-date information available throughout the county, including offices of separately elected officials and CCHHS. The complete catalog of data sets can be found at http://datacatalog.cookcountyil.gov (this site can be accessed from the original web page as well).
The data being published allows Cook County residents to use information as a tool to help measure government effectiveness and efficiency while providing citizens an opportunity to leverage the data towards civic-minded initiatives and applications.
Cook County’s Open Data site provides County residents with the opportunity to engage with their government and contribute their own feedback and ideas to the Open Data initiative. The site allows users to comment, rate and request additional datasets. Residents are also empowered to create their own unique maps and charts and they are free to share their contributions on social networks, or embed them on their community and personal blogs.
“Data in a vacuum serves no functional purpose,” said Preckwinkle. “It’s time for an honest and open dialogue with the people of Cook County. And in order to do that, we need to lay all the facts out on the table – and then allow everyone a seat at the table.”
The website was launched in conjunction with collaborative efforts between state and local governments, elected officials, civic-groups, and representatives of the technology and open data community. President Preckwinkle was also joined by Kathryn Auerbach, Director of Development and Communications at Metro Chicago Information Center (MCIC); Greg Sanders, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP); Brett Goldstein, Chief Data Officer for the City of Chicago; Alya Adamany, Illinois Science & Technology Coalition; and Dan O’Neil, Director, Smart Chicago Collaborative; former EveryBlock.com co-founder.
“Cook County’s portal brings an entirely new set of open data to bear on questions of urban vitality. Few people realize what services county governments are responsible for – health care, forest preserves, property transfers. The data generated by these activities, now available on this portal, creates possibilities for data-driven investments in the public and private sector,” said Virginia Carlson, President, Metro Chicago Information Center.
“With its new portal (http://datacatalog.cookcountyil.gov/), Cook County continues to embrace open data sharing by making data available to the general public about many important facets of county operations and administration. The GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan calls for just such a commitment to improving the availability of public information. The true value of these Cook County data sets will become clear over time, but one thing is clear right now: Many local governments, residents, businesses and non-profits will benefit significantly from the ongoing availability of this information,” said Greg Sanders, Principal, Data Sharing and Warehousing, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP).