The websites will provide greater transparency about city government spending and operations and should prove useful to local residents. Besides the general public, the websites also will make city data more easily available to city employees and elected officials, and reduce situations where information is siloed within individual departments.
What follows is an overview of the mission of this project and how this initiative will help the citizens of Urbana.
- Urbana’s Open Data site: http://data.urbanaillinois.us/
- Urbana’s Open Expenditures visualization: http://expenditures.urbanaillinois.us/
What is Open Data – and why does it matter?
For cities like Urbana, Open Data is the process of making information broadly accessible and usable by people. Open Data can inform the debate about government, and provides transparency about city operations. Council members, citizens, and even city employees can benefit from easy access to structured information.
Urbana's Open Data Program
The immediate goal for Urbana’s Open Data effort was to make use of information that the city has been tracking for decades, but which was hard to access due to the architecture of the city’s information systems. In many cases, the greatest beneficiaries will be city employees, most of whom had no ability to analyze large volumes of records across multiple years.
However, the City has also taken great precautions to protect the privacy and safety of its citizens. Data has been “cleansed” of identifying information, for example with addresses specified to a block level of detail only. The purpose is to provide answers in the aggregate, not to provide tools to harass or target individuals.
The site will be supported by the Seattle-based company Socrata, the leading global provider of open data and government performance management solutions.