Open Data Day 2017

By Eric Jackson

About 25 people showed up Asheville’s Open Data Day on March 4, enjoying good food and lively conversation about the important challenges of making open data actually matter for our community.

Introductory Remarks

Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler kicked off the event with the not-entirely-shocking revelation that she was a computer science major back in the day. In her remarks she talked about the ways open data actually makes government more effective. She also emphasized that making data really useful requires a clear understanding of what questions you are trying to answer.

Next Asheville CIO Jonathan Feldman emphasized the City’s commitment to open government and data, explaining the City Council Open Data Policy and some of the basic concepts around open data. He also talked about digital disruption and the four pillars of digital transformation: automation, self-service, a focus on customers (or, in this case, citizens), and use of real-time data in service of greater agility. The end result: a shift from top-down, command-and-control systems to “networks of influence” and collaboration.

During the remainder of the day participants split into three workgroups to grapple with the challenge of realizing the promise of open data. In addition, City GIS Programmer Analyst Christen McNamara tended an Open Data Demo bar, where City open data platforms such as Map Asheville, Simplicity, the Open Data portal, and the Public Records Request portal could be viewed and tested. The Open Data bar also gave a space to show off citizen applications that use open data such as and

Working Groups

Under the general rubric of “we have no idea what we’re doing, but neither does anyone else, so let’s work together to figure it out,” we broke up into three working groups, each approaching open data from a different perspective. Below are a few key takeaways from each of those conversations together with links to the actual notes taken during the sessions. Both Code for Asheville and the City of Asheville open data team will be processing the results in order to identify some concrete steps forward – expect to hear more in the future!

Open Data & Community Groups: Promoting Community Engagement

Open data and community group

Notes from the Open Data & Community Groups session

Open Data & Policy-Making: Influencing the Policy Process

Open data and policy-making group

Notes from the Open Data & Policy-Making session

Open Data & Local Media: Informing the Public Conversation

Open data and local media group

Notes from the Open Data & Local Media session

Photo Credits: Paloma Toledo

This post is cross-published on the Code for Asheville blog.

Originally published March 9, 2017