Detroit opens doors to new data portal

blogimage_detroitdataAs interest in civic participation and innovation increases across the United States, city governments are looking to collaboration across agencies and sectors to promote transparency and inclusivity. Following in the footsteps of cities in Colorado, New York, and California, the City of Detroit has committed staff and resources to improving publicly-accessible data platforms that will allow individuals to gain access to information regarding service delivery and government operations.

The City of Detroit recently unveiled its new open data portal as part of its efforts to advance its technological infrastructure and promote transparency. Government Open Data Access to All (GO DATA) was developed by executive order of Mayor Mike Duggan and is implemented by the Department of Innovation and Technology. The portal received financial support from the Socrata Foundation, a Seattle-based software company that helps the public-sector improve transparency, public services, and data-driven decisionmaking. The City’s first Chief Information Officer, Beth Niblock, served as the chair of the GO DATA Task Force, comprised of local officers and agency directors. She worked with a cross-sector Advisory Commission that informed the GO DATA Task Force by providing research, expertise, and feedback to guide their data platform development efforts.

The platform makes approximately 90 data sets available for civic tech projects, startups, nonprofits, and the public at large. It transfers the power of data to community leaders and entrepreneurs to collectively brainstorm for more responsive government services and infrastructure. Public access to government managed data could help  improve service delivery methods, promote urban planning efforts that truly meet community needs, and inject new perspectives into government processes.

Although challenges to open data still exist, such as integrating data sets for comprehensive analyses and standardizing inter-agency data gathering processes, Detroit is looking toward the future by making the long-term commitment to building data literacy within communities and ensuring greater access to data for individuals and organizations across the city.

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