News from President Toni Preckwinkle

Open data opens doors to community development

An excerpt from a piece from Marisa Novara of the Metropolitan Planning Council.  The MPC, “connects the dots — between regional needs, challenges, and solutions, and among the individuals and organizations with the power and capacity to guide the growth of the ever-changing Chicago metropolitan region.” 

Data is just a geeky word for information – and information is power, especially when individuals and organizations figure out how to use it to evaluate, discuss, and address the trends, positive or negative, in their communities. So it’s welcome news that metropolitan Chicago is freshly awash in “open data,” i.e., information once unavailable to the average resident now at the public’s fingertips on sites such as the City of Chicago’s Data Portal and Cook County’s newly launched “Open Data” web site.

But what to do with all these facts and figures? The Metro Chicago Information Center’s Apps for Metro Chicago (A4MC) contest, now in its Community round, exemplifies what can happen when governments open the door on their data. With four governmental agencies and 175 data sets to plumb, web developers participating in Chicago’s first-ever apps contest are tripping over themselves to create a mobile app that best turns raw data into an online experience that helps people more fully enjoy and engage with their communities.

Open data means more than just being able to create or use a cool app, however. Abundant open data – particularly when presented in a meaningful way, for instance this map of foreclosures in Cook County – means people have more opportunities to make informed decisions about their communities. A few examples:

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