The First Step: Collaboration and Democratization Around Information

#OpenData changing conversations in and around Government

There are great examples of success when the government opens data.

This benefits relationships with the community and opens opportunities for private and public collaboration. It also helps internally given that systems of the same organization often don’t share data well enough.

Case in point: when Philadelphia released property tax balance data, external analysis by Mark Headd showed how many tax delinquents got city permits in the past two years. City agencies got this benefit as well. Check the analysis yourself.

But an article earlier this year: Cities give in to notorious records requester made me consider the challenges. The reply from Seattle is striking:

his request “is so broad that it will result in damage and disorganization” to city records

I believe them. Having worked inside city government and pulling records, I know this can be quite a tedious task. I have spent hours watching the classic spinning hourglass waiting to see if I would get records back before a timeout. Bluntly, applications are not designed with this in mind.

This hurts public discourse and the ability of organizations to do their work. If they can’t share with the public easily, are organizations capable of using the information easily themselves?

In my experience, the first step is clear: focus on the transformation of technology from application centric to data centric. This empowers collaboration around data and appropriate democratization of access built not around application stacks but around information. The discussion should include a broader discussion in the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data, maximizing each.

With this, organizations can modernize institutional pathways and build agile organizations ready for the challenges ahead. Additionally, building systems with data feeds in mind is the best path for agencies to sustainably open data. This gets to the stage where conversations about organizations can happen internally and externally with #ChangeAgents everywhere.

The technology is relatively easy. Changing the institution and culture is the hard work.

What are your thoughts?

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