A little help for your data woes? (Courtesy of the White House)

Fri, 2016-03-11 06:00 -- Doug Peeples


The federal government has just put out a package of federal and local data that could be useful for city leaders, policy makers, technology developers and others to help them build stronger communities and deal with economic inequities many citizens face.

The point of the Opportunity Project is to make that data easily accessible and available online -- data on anything from information about crime and jobs to affordable housing, ways to help businesses find the services they need and enable cities to improve and expand their services.

The White House says more than 30 non-profits, community groups, local governments and academic institutions have committed to using the open data platform to make more opportunities available for more people and strengthen their cities and communities in several ways.

There's a catch (but not a bad one)…
The federal government doesn't expect to do all the work. As the White House says in an Opportunity Project fact sheet, it's asking the public to get involved in the project too, and has issued a call to the public "…to develop new tools, offer additional sources of data, deepen community engagement through the use of the data, and other actions. We want to hear about what new steps you are taking or programs you are implementing to address these topics."

Wired magazine made an interesting point in its article about the Opportunity Project: the economic mobility and other community-related issues the project focuses on aren't the things a lot of major tech companies are likely to get involved with.  Chief U.S. Data Scientist DJ Patil said the new data tools will come from volunteers or small businesses working on civic technology.

Doug Peeples is a Portland, Oregon-based writer specializing in technology and energy. Follow @smartccouncil on Twitter.