Mayor orders departments to open up more data

Beta Boston reports on an order by hizzona last night that should mean even more data sets for app developers and interested residents than are already available.

The order may also be the first WiFi'ing of the young Walsh administration - it came just a few hours after at-large Councilor Michelle Wu called for opening up city data.



Free tagging: 


I believe this is the total

transcription history of Boston City Council meetings:

"We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately! Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph! "

Minutes of most recent Public Meeting of Board. Camb Pub Library

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To the Librarians and the Board of Cambridge Public Library:

Pursuant to the Massachusetts Public Records Law, M.G.L. c.66, §10

and Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, §§18-25

At this point in time I hereby request only to read; Emphasize only to read the following records:

At this point in time only to read, Emphasize only to read the a) Most recent Minutes from Wednesday 9 April 2014 Public Meeting of our City's Board of our Cambridge Public Library not necessarily limited to and including b) Administrative Assistant's Notes for the Minutes and c) Secretary of the Board's Notes for the Minutes. Please note Andre Mayer Official Secretary of our City's Board of our Cambridge Public Library may contribute to the Minutes and M. A. Gagalis or another Administrative Assistant actually takes the Minutes. Cambridge Public Library materials, archives, etc. are available for public library users in the Reading Room or Archives Reading Room. Likewise Minutes from the most recent Public Meeting of our Public Library Board of our Cambridge Public Library could be made available for reading for interested public library users and for interested public library staff in the Reading Room or Archives Reading Room of our Cambridge Public Library. No longer are we satisfied with meeting public records requirements, including Freedom of Information obligations, in a reactive way, responding to citizen-generated requests slowly on paper. Instead, Open Data and Open Government call for proactive information sharing, inviting transparency, scrutiny, and accountability. Cambridge Public Librarians are asked to put into practice Intellectual Freedom and Freedom to Read principles of the library professions.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as we believe this request is in the public interest, as suggested but not stipulated by the recommendations of the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records and Massachusetts Attorney General. Hand transcribed, the requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

Keep in mind cost-benefit analyses for open records, open data and open meetings. Keep in mind the budget to figure out the cost than to retrieve the Minutes, and Cambridge Public Library earning the greater worth of media coverage -- not all bad because Cambridge Public Library produced the documents and earned positive coverage.

I expect the request to be made available only for reading, for transcription by hand or filled in an accessible format, including for screen readers, which provide text-to-speech for persons unable to read print. Files that are not accessible to screen readers include, for example, .pdf image files as well as physical documents.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.

Transcripts of City Council Meetings

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Google Michelle Wu Boston Facebook. Will give you Councilor Wu's Facebook page which has a detailed summary of every past City council Meeting. Also google Michelle Wu Boston Twitter, Councilor Wu will give you a heads up as to every meeting, you can view them live.

Michelle Wu kinda wifi'ed

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Michelle Wu kinda wifi'ed Ayanna Pressley on some of the small business and liquor license stuff so all's fair, right?

Sounds good

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Hizzoner is ordering transparency and more divulging of city data. LOL I appreciate the new mayor's attempt at a more open government but who believes these hacks can deterred from generations of hackery by a mayor that may be one and done.

Not the only point

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The point isn't just to say "here are our books, now nothing hinky will go on". Imagine if someone were to pool the data and determine inefficiencies that would be easy to correct, cost no one their hackery, and benefit the rest of us? It's possible to find a way to improve the city if people are able to see the data. Sometimes fresh eyes are the best solution.

Imagine if an entrepreneur could use the data to create a new startup service that learns from the data and spits out the result to an app that everyone uses, like the MBTA bus trackers. Not only does the city not have the time or energy to think of every creative way of using its own data, but companies could be started off of an enterprising look at that data.


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Tangentially related, but I want to plug the Open MBTA app. It is excellent, with real-time information for bus and subway. I use it all the time.

Ok, Mayor, time for a challenge

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The best analyses come when you first set the correct business question. When Netflix released all of its data, it did so because it wanted to know "how can we better predict how much a user will like a recommended movie based on past viewing and ratings?".

The city needs to issue a Data Analytics Challenge and invite teams to crunch the data and answer some question the city would like to know from the data but doesn't have the time/effort/expertise to answer.

Netflix supplied the data

Netflix supplied the data until a website (Instant Watcher) started publishing the expiration dates of the streaming movies, which was useful for people who view by streaming. A large number expired one month, someone noticed and wrote about it on-line, a number of other sites published the same thing, then Netflix removed access to that data. There may be a lesson here.

I don't think so

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We're not talking about a private company here - this is public data, owned by all of us.

Ask for the most recent Minutes...

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Ask for the most recent Minutes from the most recent Public Meeting of a favorite Board/Commission/Committee .

>"Open Session Meeting Records
>"The law requires that existing minutes be made available to the public within 10 days upon request, whether they have been approved or remain in draft form. Materials or other exhibits used by the public body in an open meeting must also be made available to the public within 10 days upon request.
page 13 at