Yo Yoshida, Founder & CEO, Appallicious argues that there is a wealth of information housed in local governments that should be public by default to help fuel a new wave of civic participation.
As Americans, we expect a certain standardization of basic services, infrastructure and laws — no matter where we call home. When you live in Seattle and take a business trip to New York, the electric outlet in the hotel you’ re staying in is always compatible with your computer charger. When you drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I-5 doesn’ t all-of-a-sudden turn into a dirt country road because some cities won’ t cover maintenance costs. If you take a 10-minute bus ride from Boston to the city of Cambridge, you know the money in your wallet is still considered legal tender.
But what if these expectations of consistency were not always a given? What if cities, counties and states had absolutely zero coordination when it came to basic services? This is what it is like for us in the open data movement. There are so many important applications and products that have been built by civic startups and concerned citizens. However, all too often these efforts are confided to city limits, and unavailable to anyone outside of them. It’ s time to start reimagining the way cities function and how local governments operate. There is a wealth of information housed in local governments that should be public by default to help fuel a new wave of civic participation.
Along with other open data advocates, Yoshida has been going from city-to-city, county-to-county and state-to-state, trying to get governments and departments to open up their massive amounts of valuable data.
Access to this data is a civil right. If this is truly a government by, of and for the people, then its data needs to be available to all of us. By opening up this wealth of information, we will design a better government that takes advantage of the technology and skills of civic startups and innovative citizens.