September 30th, 2009

Portland, Oregon, joins the ranks of the open cities, officially embracing open data and open source


Portland, Oregon, joins the ranks of the open cities, officially embracing open data and open source

Portland, Oregon, is now an open city.

Following in the footsteps of open cities like San Francisco, Chicago, and Vancouver, BC, Portland’s Mayor Sam Adams and the City Council today unanimously approved a resolution that directs the City of Portland to open data to outside developers and encourages adoption of open source solutions in technology procurement.

With the ratification of the Portland Economic Development strategy, the City officially recognized the value of the open source in Portland. Now, with the adoption of the open data and open source resolution, the City has prescribed specific objectives for the municipal government that will help Portland begin the transformation into a government that more willingly embraces open standards, transparency, and more collegial interaction with its open source community.

What does the resolution do? At its most basic, it’s designed to give open source and open data a seat at the table. The resolution strives to:

Mobilize and expand the regional technology community of software, hardware and service professionals by promoting open and transparent government, open data, and partnership opportunities between the public, private and non-profit sectors, academia and labor

To what end? Well, the City hopes to stimulate development and increase the City’s participation in the vibrant local open source community—as well as the broader open source community for which Portland has served as a de facto—yet rarely officially recognized—hub.

“It is a collaborative spirit the City is seeking to promote,” said the Mayor Sam Adams during today’s council meeting.

To achieve these ends, the resolution calls for the City to publish structured standardized data, adopt open standards, support and encourage the development of open source curricula in Portland schools, and consider open source solutions. (Need more details on the resolution? The entire text of the resolution can be found in the original post, “Mayor Sam Adams and the City of Portland to open source, open data, and transparency communities: Let’s make this official.”)

What if you don’t really care about the whole open source thing? Well, it’s still going to have an effect on you. Because opening data to the public brings with it the hopes the public will engage with the municipality to ensure more transparency and great efficiency for your municipal government.

“This [resolution] will increase efficiency in local government… democratize public data itself… and it will foster innovation among Portland’s world class software community,” said Skip Newberry with the Mayor’s Office in his testimony.

No matter which way you look at it, making the decision to be more open is a momentous move by the City. And one that should bode well for the open source community that calls the City of Portland home.

Now, the hard work begins. Both from the City’s perspective in terms of making this data accessible and from the perspective of those who would like to access that data.

But at the very least, the City is marching forward—and defining objectives. Here’s hoping that effort continues to gain momentum.

Well done, Portland. And congratulations on your new status as an open city. Once again, I’m swelling with pride at what you’ve been able to accomplish.

Now, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Background that may help (or may not)

29 Responses to “Portland, Oregon, joins the ranks of the open cities, officially embracing open data and open source”

  1. Lyza Gardner says:

    Super! I am happy! This fits the city’s personality well, as well as being in the best interest of its denizens. Now let’s see if it pans out.

  2. Joey Mornin says:

    This is great news!

    Do you know anything more about the app contest? The resolution directs the Bureau of Technology Services to “Organize a regional contest to encourage the development of software applications to collect, organize, and share public data.” Was there any word on when this might happen?

  3. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Joey According to testimony given during today’s City Council meeting, the app contest is still under development. As soon as I know more, I’ll be sure to post about it.

  4. Joey Mornin says:

    @Rick Cool. Will the city be taking input on how to run the contest?

    It seems like a good approach would be to publish some small-ish datasets right now to jumpstart the app contest. Then, the submissions will help inform decisions about how to publish more of the city’s data.

  5. Rick Turoczy says:

    @Joey Great feedback! I’ll do my best to make sure that this guidance gets to the contest organizers.

  6. Richard Davies says:

    [Subscribing to comments.]

  7. Matt Bonner says:

    This is nice to hear, but I completely agree w/ Joey. Having more information on the kinds of datasets, and the data in them would start to give people a better idea of what this means and how it could benefit the city.

  8. Joe Germuska says:

    It’s a stretch to put Chicago on the list of open cities, as much as I’d like it to be the case. Members of OpenGov Chicago reviewed the publication of TIF data (see http://www.progressillinois.com/2009/8/5/columns/tif-sunshine-review) and gave the city a C-minus grade.

    The Chicago Transit Authority seems to be making some good progress on opening their data (http://www.transitchicago.com/news/default.aspx?ArticleId=2450) but more generally, Chicago is not leading the charge (yet!).

    Good for Portland.

  9. [...] And we saw companies garner funding—even pure Facebook plays like Second Porch. And we saw the City of Portland stumble with the creative community only to rebound in grand fashion by stepping up to support both the Web and mobile startup scene and the open source community. [...]

  10. [...] some neat stuff going on around the City of Portland and open source, but not much that’s ready to point to yet. My part mostly involves going to meetings, and [...]

  11. Joey Mornin says:

    Does anybody have any updates on this? I’m itching to build an app with Portland city data :)

  12. I know that the city is planning on sponsoring some sort of competition for developers to build mashups and utilize the open datasets. I don’t know the exact timeline, but I’m guessing probably later this year.

  13. [...] more, it’s all in line with the City of Portland’s pursuit of being more open with its data. And allowing users to interact more efficiently with the data it does [...]

  14. [...] any less true. Fact of the matter is, when you open up your data, good things happen. So when the City of Portland decided to join the ranks of cities with open data policies, good things started to [...]

  15. [...] back when the City of Portland opened up its data to developers? Sure you do. But you know what? All the accessible data in the world isn’t of much use [...]

  16. [...] as you may have heard, the City of Portland has opened up their data to outside developers. And they’ve been running the CivicApps contest to encourage participation. As part of that [...]

  17. [...] Portland, Oregon, joins the ranks of the open cities, officially embracing open data and open source [...]

  18. [...] of Portland designed to help stimulate and motivate the development community to mix and match all the awesome datasets—more than 100 different types—available from the [...]

  19. [...] with all of the municipal open data and CivicApps activity here around Portland, it could be a very very interesting summer for the [...]

  20. [...] Here in Portland, we’re all about the open data. It’s all about sharing what’s available with the hopes that someone else may be able to do something useful with it, transforming it from pure data into useful information. [...]

  21. [...] it seems only appropriate that Portland—the de facto hub of open source and a self-proclaimed open city—would be the spot to launch this [...]

  22. [...] Portland has declared itself an open city. It has worked hard to champion open source, open its data, and look for new and interesting ways to get more involved in the open source software community. [...]

  23. Wally Rogers says:

    The State of Oregon is also supporting the movement by launching the open social data platform with standardized APIs to all of the datasets in one catalog. Check it out at http://data.oregon.gov. And the civic developer can let the world know there is a great application using the data right through the data.oregon.gov site! Plus create your own views and share them, comment on the data and suggest new datasets – all online.

  24. [...] what about at a more local level? Portland, Oregon, has been one of the leaders in opening up its data. And organizations like Code for America are helping governments that are already ready already and [...]

  25. [...] Portland, Oregon, joins the ranks of the open cities, officially embracing open data and open source (24) [...]

  26. [...] Portland, Oregon, joins the ranks of the open cities, officially embracing open data and open source (25) [...]

  27. [...] Portland, Oregon, joins the ranks of the open cities, officially embracing open data and open source (26) [...]

  28. [...] Announced on this post and reported in ReadWriteWeb in September 2009. At time of writing no open data appears to be [...]

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