Philadelphia Takes Another Step Toward Transparency

(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia took another step toward more open government this week.

The city launched its open data initiative in 2011, hiring Chief Data Officer Mark Headd to spearhead the project. Internal concerns about data-sharing made things move more slowly than Headd envisioned, and he has since moved on. But yesterday Mayor Michael Nutter announced the redesign of Philadelphia’s open data portal, OpenDataPhilly, which gives access to more than 250 local data sets, applications and APIs. Users can search for data concerning public agencies as well as nonprofits, universities and more.

The Philly Voice reports OpenDataPhilly will be maintained through a partnership between the Temple University Center for Public Interest Journalism (CPIJ) and Philadelphia-based software company Azavea.

“Since the launch of open data in Philadelphia in 2011, our City has become a leader in the national open data movement,” Mayor Nutter said in a release. “The redesign of OpenDataPhilly will increase access to available data, thereby enabling our citizens to become more engaged and knowledgeable and our government more accountable.”

Nutter also announced an upgrade to the city’s Philly 311 customer service system.

“With the new Philly 311 customer service platform, our goal is not only to create a more connected, citizen-responsive city, but also to inspire other cities to follow our model and engage their citizens,” Mayor Nutter said. “When I came into office, I made it a priority to enhance transparent and efficient government, increase integrity, build better open data practices and improve government accountability. We want to empower people and work with Philadelphians to get done the creative and sustainable solutions to quality of life and government related issues that citizens care most about.”

It’s been a good month for open gov fans in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh also launched an online budget tool making it easier for the public to comb through city spending details.

Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.

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