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New York City Has a More Level Playing Field for Access to Real Estate Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, July 26 2013

New York City's Department of City Planning recently opened up free access to data files that link up maps of individual tax lots with financial data about those lots, following pressure from transparency advocates and media coverage. The data merges together information like owner name, assessed value and even details like floor-to-area ratio, a function of how tall a building is and how big a lot it sits on, which is a useful index of building density. (An area with zoning rules that allow for high FAR is an area that will have more, taller, buildings.) Read More

With Kickstarter Funding, FOIA Machine Wants to Help Fix Public Records

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, July 19 2013

(Kickstarter)

FOIA Machine, a platform that aims to streamline the process of tracking of filing and tracking public record requests, has raised more than $29,000 on Kickstarter — exceeding its funding goal by more than $10,000. Read More

Houston to Hire an "Enterprise Data Officer" to Fight Digital Sprawl

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, July 18 2013

The city of Houston is hiring a new top staffer to fight sprawl — in its databases, not its city streets. Houston has 2.2 million citizens spread out over 627 square miles, but like many municipalities, Houston’s 22 city departments also have their data spread across a variety of formats. A new enterprise data officer would be in charge of consolidating how that data is stored and shared, which officials hope will increase productivity and revenue while opening more information for public consumption. Read More

New Tool Takes You Into the Treasury's Bank Account

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, July 12 2013

A new tool, Treasury IO, is designed to make working with data about federal spending much easier to understand. Read More

Is This How to Breathe Life Into a City's Vacant Land?

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, July 10 2013

A new online effort hopes to revive Philadelphia's vacant lots. Photo: Matt Bevilacqua

For urbanites in Philadelphia looking to make a garden from one of the city’s 35,000 or so unused lots, the most common advice has consisted of two words: good luck. That’s because while data on any given parcel is technically open there, actually figuring out who owns it, or if anything can be done with it, can require a spelunking expedition into the dark caverns of city bureaucracy. Organizers and developers have launched a new project to make it easier to find and utilize vacant land. Read More

What "We the People" Petitions Say About the Country

BY Sam Roudman | Tuesday, July 9 2013

Developers are beginning to make use of information included in the White House's API for online petitions. Read More

Will This Volunteer-Built App Help Clean Up New York City Politics?

BY Nick Judd | Monday, July 1 2013

The New York City Campaign Finance Board plans this week to release an early version of a web interface for campaigns to collect and process contributions on the go. "At first it is designed for use by candidates and their campaigns to process contributions in person, [such as] at small fundraisers," says CFB spokesman Eric Friedman. Read More

City Officials Hope Open Data Standard Will Help Fight Slumlords

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, June 26 2013

What if your apartment used to look like this and you didn't know? Photo: Forsaken Fotos

San Francisco's mayor, Ed Lee, last week announced a new standard for working with data on buildings and building inspections — a project that has attracted attention across the country. Using this standard, cities can make information about buildings and building inspections available in a format that developers could use to better explain the conditions of urban housing stock. “It enables people to make better decision around their housing,” says Ashley Hand, the chief innovation officer of Kansas City, Mo. Read More

Despite Software Problems, Civic Hackers are Pedaling Bike Share Data

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, June 13 2013

(NYCDOT/Flickr)

Reporters are shoaling around the news that New York City's new bike sharing system, Citi Bike, is benighted with problems stemming from its high-tech software. But that's not putting the brakes on plans to explore what programmers might do with data generated by the system by hosting a Citi Bike Civic Hack Night later this month. Read More

Nancy Lublin on the Problem With Nonprofit Tech

BY Nick Judd | Friday, June 7 2013

Nancy Lublin at Personal Democracy Forum 2013. Photo: Esty Stein / Personal Democracy Forum

Nancy Lublin devoted her PDF talk to opening a conversation about what she sees as serious problems with the way foundations approach funding technology projects that address public policy or social services.

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