Open data empowers people and businesses, drives innovation, and makes possible what was previously impossible. Today’s apps and websites use open data to make cities easier to move around, more sustainable, and more business friendly.
For the second year in a row, America’s Civic Hackers, Mayors, and State and Federal government officials came together to participate in the National Day of Civic Hacking—the biggest gathering of civic hackers in the world. The event brings together technologists, entrepreneurs, developers, and citizens to unleash their tech skills to improve their communities and the governments that serve them. This year, 123 events were held in 103 cities in 13 countries across the world.
Inspired by the National Day of Civic Hacking, mayors across the country are stepping up and recognizing the tremendous benefits to opening up their city data. For instance, showing their support for the open data movement, in May Mayor Karl Dean signed the “Metro Government Open Data Executive Order” for the City of Nashville, while Councilmember Sittenfeld and Interim City Manager Stiles announced the City of Cincinnati’s new open data policy.
Los Angeles is also leveraging open data and civic hacking. On May 31st, City of Los Angeles Controller Ron Galperin and Chief Innovation Technology Officer Peter Marx joined us at City Hall to launch an open data portal for the City of Los Angeles. At the event, we met with over 400 Los Angeleno civic hackers who are building tools to leverage the City’s newly released open data—including data sets on permits issued, incidence of traffic collisions, and 311 response times.
At this same Hack for LA event, the i.am.angel Foundation, WhizGirls Academy and Technovation worked with 150 students from the Los Angeles Unified School District to take the first steps to learn how to code. These budding hackers demonstrate the incredible potential of the city of Los Angeles and its dynamic students to expand the diversity of the American tech sector, answering the President’s call for one million additional STEM undergraduates in the next ten years.
To amplify the National Day of Civic Hacking, the White House hosted its own hackathon to improve the petitions platform, We the People. We the People already has more than 14 million users, and we’re excited to see it being opened even further through the development of new ways to sign petitions to ensure that every American can make their voice heard.
We thank all the municipal leaders and civic hackers from around the country for joining the movement to unlock open data and for building the apps and services that put open data to use. Together, we are answering the President’s call to unleash information that fuels innovation and economic growth.
Eric Garcetti is mayor of the City of Los Angeles
Brian Forde is Senior Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy