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Jun 6 / Ian

Open Tucson featured in Government Technology Magazine

In ‘Open Tucson’ to Drive Better Decisions, Noelle Knell talks about recent developments in Tucson as they relate to the national context:

Greenhill, along with other local advocates who are passionate about the potential of open data, have been meeting locally for a couple of years now. Their organization, called Open Tucson, got a shot in the arm on May 22, with an official go-ahead from the mayor and council to formulate a strategy to make an open data portal a reality.

You can read the whole story here:

Jun 5 / Ian

Next Meeting: July 5, 6:30 to 8:30 2012

As a follow up to our data set brainstorming yesterday, we’re going to follow up with a meeting where we re-hash these sets, as well as think of specific problems that could be addressed by each and come up with candidate applications. More details to follow.

Jun 5 / Ian

Candidate Data Sets

We had a good meeting last night and came up with a list of candidate data sets that our group is keen to see released. They’re listed below, along with some miscellaneous notes on policy ideas and methodologies. Please do comment on these, or suggest additions!

Various Notes:

City could consider adding clause for contracts that contractors must release data.

Most citizens don’t know how the city works/is put together. Some kind of facilitator role would be helpful — a data coordinator/liaison/interpreter.

Make sure people can comment and rate data. I.e. explain the way the data is structured, deficiencies, etc. Flagging data as flawed or issues.

Consolidate Existing Data Streams
Ask each department to list the data streams they currently publish, and information about the streams (how frequently updated), API if available.

Open Tucson Proposed Data Streams
SunTran GTFS (bus stops, routes, etc.)
SunTran live bus data
TDOT Construction projects status and schedule.
Traffic Counts for major streets – ADT
Traffic signal data
Police reports – traffic or other crimes
All the data from the zoomtucson service  —
trash pickup
congressional district
Job postings
Zoning/permits/liquor licenses
Restaurant Inspections
Traffic circle locations
Current Employee Names, Salaries, and Position Titles
Business Licenses
Parking Tickets
Parking Facilities
Bicycle parking locations
Traffic infrastructure
Bike Theft locations
Tree inventory
census data — centralize for the city too.
Construction costs on road jobs
Construction & Development permits
Construction Stages in process
Survey data
Water connections
Water usage by area / wastage
Parade permits
Waste generated
TPAC data — public arts / artist grants
Historic Assets
Red Tags (prob part of TPD reports)
GIS data in shapefiles — can they release that in other formats?
Graffiti app / 311 calls for service / potholes
Park awning availability — city parks — other parks/rec data?

Preferred Formats
GTFS — other standardized formats
Static Data: CSV

May 23 / Ian

Next Meeting: June 4, 2012 6:30-8pm at Spoke 6

Now that Tucson’s City Council has voted to start exploring an Open Government initiative, they’re going to be collecting a list of data sets based on input from Staff, Mayor and Council, and citizens — that would be us. So let’s get together to brainstorm what we’re most interested in seeing! Here are some example sets from other cities to get started:

  •  (that’s right a city of 83,000 already has an open data catalog with 45 data sets!)

And there are tons, tons, more. Looking forward to seeing you all then — 6:30-8pm June 4, 2012 at the Spoke 6 co-working space at the corner of 6th Street and 6th Ave. Snacks and beer always welcome. If you can’t make it, be sure to fill out our wishlist form.

See you all then!

May 23 / Ian

Tucson City Council Moves Towards Open Government Initiative!

Good news! I was invited by the Mayor’s office to address the City Council yesterday during their study session on the merits and impacts of Open Government and to talk a bit about the work that OpenTucson members and others have done in our community. It was a lightning fast presentation, but I think they were impressed — particularly by the work that Kit Plummer did with the Busted API, and the work that Collin Forbes has done with

This is the motion that they passed:

I move that we direct the City Attorney to work with City staff and return in 60 days with the following:

  • Proposed legislation that confirms the City’s commitment to open government principles and to the development of a City webpage where the catalog of open data sets can be accessed and public input on the value of these data sets, requests for other data sets and examples of how citizens are using these data sets is collected.
  • A list of valuable and useful data sets based upon input from Mayor and Council, City Staff and citizens
  • Staff determination of the costs of implementation and recommendations on how best to proceed.

This is just the first step of many, but it’s great news that the process has started. Now would be a good time to fire up our lists of data sets we’re excited to get our hands on.

Thanks to the Mayor and his Staff for getting this item on the agenda and on the City’s radar, to the Councilpersons for voting to move forward on this, and to all the members of OpenTucson who have helped make the case for opening government data to facilitate citizen coding by showing up at OpenTucson meetings and doing all the work. Chris Janton, I wouldn’t be surprised if you get a call soon about helping SunTran staff finalize that GTFS data.

Jan 26 / Ian

SMS SunTran app based on Busted

UA student Shi Junxiao sent an email letting me know that he’s created a program to query departure times by text message based on the Busted API. Check it out here:

Mar 24 / Ian

Next Meeting: Tuesday, March 29, 2011 6-8pm

The next OpenTucson meeting will be this Tuesday, March 29 6-8pm at Spoke 6. For now:

1. CityCampAZ report: Chandler held a city camp on February 15 that Andrew and Ian attended. What we learned and what we could do here.

2. SunTracker Kiosk: next steps — location aware browser version? QR codes?

3. Inspirations and Project ideas: discuss ideas for other projects and leads — what’s happening in other cities

4. Code For America report: How the Code for America teams are doing, and what they’re learning

Please let me know if there’s anything else you want to discuss. See you Tuesday!

Spoke6 is at the corner of Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue.

Dec 28 / Ian

Do digital displays for transit lead to more riders?

Andrew found an interested article related to our SunTracker project.

“In D.C., as in many other places, the intention is that by giving people more information, more often, and more easily, they will make better choices about their mobility.”

Read the rest of the article here:

Nov 29 / Ian

Open Tucson Mentioned in Fast Company

Andrew’s efforts with Code for America and Open Tucson are mentioned in the December issue of Fast Company:

It’s a great article about the government 2.0, and worth reading. The relevant excerpt:

In 2009, while she was working with O’Reilly on the Gov 2.0 Summit, she heard from Andrew Greenhill, chief of staff to the mayor of Tucson — who happened to be married to her childhood friend Valerie. “I was tweeting and blogging around gov 2.0,” says Pahlka, “and Andrew was telling me, ‘You need to pay attention to the local level because cities are in major crisis. Revenues are down, costs are up — if we don’t change how cities work, they’re going to fail.’ “

Greenhill, a Vassar graduate with a master’s degree in English who spent two years with Teach for America, may not seem like the most likely tech advocate in government. But he had brought a customized version of SeeClickFix to Tucson, and had also helped introduce a Live BusTracker app. In 2009, he cofounded OpenTucson, a not-for-profit dedicated to developing more apps for the community. His motivation is as much financial as techno-utopian. “Our entire general fund budget was at one point about $493 million. Now it’s down to $443 million, and we’re facing a $51 million deficit in fiscal year 2012,” he says. “The application of technology in government can do as much as anything to make government more efficient and effective, more transparent, and more participatory and collaborative.”

Greenhill and Pahlka began discussing the outlines of what eventually became Code for America, a one-year fellowship recruiting developers to work for city government. They decided that any potential fellows would have to go through a rigorous application process, and that they would be equally ruthless in demanding buy-in from the cities they worked with. Only then would programmers be embedded in city hall, to spend a year working closely with city managers to design web solutions to public problems.

Nov 28 / Ian

Next Meeting Monday, December 20: Holiday party!

We’re going to be hosting our first annual OpenTucson holiday party Monday night at Spoke 6. We’ll have food, beer, and a brief presentation of the most recent version of the SunTran kiosk, but mostly we’ll just be socializing and talking about next year’s goals.

Join us — and feel free to bring your friends!

When: December 20 at 6pm
Where: 439 N 6th Avenue on the Southwest corner of 6th Avenue and 6th Street.

See you Monday! RSVP to if you can so we can make sure we order enough food.