Much of the work we do as part of the City of Philadelphia’s open data initiative is about empowerment – empowering people to use city data to create a useful service, application or visualization about our city.
By releasing data in easily consumable formats and reaching out to the community and encouraging experimentation and innovation, we can foster new ideas, the creation of new tools and help people better understand how our city works.
A great example of this dynamic at work can be seen in a recent mashup of City of Philadelphia data by Sarah Cordivano – formerly with the Office of Innovation and Technology and currently a project manager at Azavea. Based on a similar effort in Baltimore, Sarah quickly put together a powerful visualization that mashes up data about crime incidents – specifically homicides – and vacant properties in the City of Philadelphia.
Part of the process of identifying new solutions to longstanding urban challenges facing or city is engaging with citizens and stakeholders to collaboratively identify ways we can make things better. Fostering a more nuanced understanding of how our city works is key to that effort, and Sarah’s visualization is an enormously effective way to juxtapose to critical pieces of data about our city and what is happening in it.
The approach of empowerment isn’t reserved to our efforts to share open data and engage civic application developers and data scientists. It is a consistent them that runs through many of the efforts underway under the auspices of the Managing Director’s Office.
Our Philly311 Mobile App empowers people to report issues in their community and to work with their neighbors, 311 staff and others to make our city better. It’s an app that can literally turn people into neighborhood heros.
The efforts of the PhillyRising Collaborative bring city resources to bear on issues affecting some of our most challenged neighborhoods and empowers residents to create a positive change. Just this week, hundreds of supporters and participants in the PhillyRising effort came together at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Center City Philadelphia to discuses strategies to improve our communities.
These are just a few examples of the efforts we are taking to engage with those that have a stake in the future of Philadelphia, to help empower them to make our city better.
The solutions to the challenges that face Philadelphia won’t come from government alone – we need everyone’s help to move our city forward.