Open City Data, But How Much?

Opening city data to the public was a relatively new idea when the District of Columbia began publishing its data streams online recently. As applications using the data developed, some in the District got a little weary of the idea.

One application, called Stumble Safely, maps crime data near bars in D.C., offering users a view of what's going on around them. It's an effort to make an intoxicated walk home safer. Or slightly safer. But the data provided by the police department started to trickle off, giving less and less detail.

"[W]hile Kundra and the open-data community were fans of opening up the city's books, it turned out that the Metropolitan Police Department was not. Earlier this year, as apps like Stumble Safely grew in number and quality, the police stopped releasing the detailed incident reports-investigating officers' write-ups of what happened-into the city's data feed. The official reason for the change is concern over victims' and suspects' privacy. But considering that before the clampdown the reports were already being released with names and addresses redacted, it's hard to believe that's the real one. More likely, the idea of information traveling more or less unedited from cops' keyboards to citizens' computer screens made the brass skittish, and the department reacted the way bureaucracies usually do: it made public information harder to get. The imperatives of Government 2.0 were thwarted by the instincts of Government 1.0."

Thanks to Creative Class Exchange

Full Story: The Geekdom of Crowds

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