Local government: data supplier

Portland, Oregon's open data lessons can apply elsewhere.

What are Skip Newberry’s lessons learned from a regional approach to open data and civic apps? Newberry, who serves as economic development policy adviser to Portland, Ore. mayor Sam Adams, offered practical insights that other cities can apply to their own open data initiatives during his Ignite Gov talk at the Government Open Source Conference (GOSCON).

“In the near future, collaboration among different jurisdictions in standardizing data across local, county, state, and international boundaries will pose significant challenges,” said Newberry. “I do not think these are insurmountable.”

His talk, embedded below, focused on the open data and app design contest in the Portland area called Civic Apps.

Newberry is well placed to speak to the progress of Portland’s initiatives involving software and digital media. Last year, he helped to draft an open source procurement and open data policy that was subsequently adopted by the Portland City Council.

Open government and civic innovation were on display at an awards ceremony the day after Newberry spoke. Among the winners of the second round of Civic Apps awards, Loqi.me stood out for its potential for broader use in crisis or disaster response around the country or world.

Will open data initiatives in Portland lead to more economic activity and improve the life of citizens? Mayor Adams believes so. “In Portland, like I think most cities, when people are armed with knowledge, they make wiser choices,” Adams said in an interview at the awards ceremony. He pointed toward PDX Bus as an example of innovation that helps citizens better navigate the city.

“We are seeing folks that are sole proprietorships hire folks to help them build their business, their app business, their online business with our data sets,” Adams said. “For us, data has always been there, in some cases for decades. Putting it to use for the public and helping people make money while they do it — we intend to be the open source capitol of the nation — and this is one contribution we can make, with our data sets.”

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