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Event

Open Data: Transforming Government Transparency

Date: November 4, 2015
Time: 12:00 pm  to  1:30 pm

On Thursday, November 4th, ICPR hosted the “Open Data: Transforming Government Transparency” forum at Robert Morris University. The event brought members of the Chicago civic technology community together to talk about open data, its potential applications, and the future of such a powerful resource.

Independent journalist Sally Duros opened up the event by giving some background into open data, explaining the movement and the types of open data that are currently available. She also gave insight into how the data and applications are helpful to journalists, who can use the information to create stories.

Following introductions, the panelists gave examples of their open data projects as a way to show the audience what can be done with new and innovative technologies. Kyla Williams of the Smart Chicago Collaborative discussed their Chicago Health Atlas, which can be used to find data on hospitals, health care options, and more, each sorted by neighborhood. Williams said that companies could use the data to determine where services are needed and target their resources accordingly.

Derek Eder of DataMade LLC followed by discussing their joint project with ICPR, the Illinois Sunshine database. Eder explained how Illinois Sunshine is the top source in Illinois for campaign finance data, and that the simple layout makes it easy to search and find records. He also discussed the difficult process of weeding through all the data, and organizing it after acquiring it from the Illinois State Board of Elections. Deputy Director Sarah Brune noted that Illinois Sunshine is one of a kind, and the weekly update has become extremely popular amongst journalists and interested citizens.

Then, City of Chicago Chief Data Officer Tom Schenk Jr. gave an overview of the city’s data portal. The portal is where all of the open data released by the city can be found, said Schenk, and the information covers topics from employee salaries to food inspection scores. Finally, Adam Hecktman of Microsoft discussed the Chicago City Data User Group as a way to get involved for those interested in learning more about open data. The group meets monthly and has different speakers come and discuss ways to use open data. Christopher Whitaker also discussed Chi Hack Night, which is another event that discusses open data and civic technology in Chicago.

The audience was active in asking questions throughout the event, discussing possible future projects and learning about applications displaying municipal data in new and innovative ways. ICPR would like to thank all of our panelists for participating and Robert Morris University for hosting the event.

 

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Alphawood Foundation Chicago McCormick Foundation

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