The term “open data” is the idea that certain data should be available and easy to find and share. Opening up more information to the public has been trending with civic-minded tech experts hoping to create more transparent and accountable government across California.
California Forward convened the first of its Civic Data Forums this week in San Bernardino, convening staff and elected officials from cities, school districts and counties throughout the Inland Empire to discuss open data, transparency and technology solutions for improving governance in their communities.
Presented in partnership with Code for America and hosted by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, the event drew a capacity crowd of more than 50 participants from communities stretching from Orange County to the High Desert.
Robb Korinke and Code for America’s Jack Madans led the group, which heard success stories from public agencies in the region and saw demonstrations of innovative tools for interacting with residents and administering public services.
The City of Riverside’s Chief Innovation Officer, Lea Deesing, led a discussion on her city’s efforts to integrate data in its operations, and outlined Riverside’s public data portal – currently rated as the second best in the United States.
The day also included breakout sessions led by Code for America fellows and covering “100 Days to Open Data” and the immediate steps local governments can take top implement data policies and engage their communities.
The forum featured a number of case studies.
- Civic Insight provided simple visualizations to communicate complicated property processes regarding code enforcement and building permits.
- OpenGov presented their web-based platform, which allows senior executives to easily identify trends with transaction-level detail, while also allowing governments to share financial data with elected officials and the public.
- RecordTrac pointed to the City of Oakland, where their tool has increased the efficiency of the public records request process.
“This was a great group of people and a terrific exchange of ideas,” said Brian Barber, a Systems Analyst with the Riverside County IT Bureau. “California Forward convened a diversified group of local government representatives interested in advancing open data and helped frame the issue and outline next steps.”
This meeting is the first of what California Forward believes will be a series of data forums. California Forward will again partner with Code for America and open data expert Brian Purchia, a former advisor to Gavin Newsom, on a local government-focused forum in northern California in July.