Open Data Startegy for Transforming Cities

Inclusion of people is where this “Data Age” is taking us. Thought leadership is omni-important. Certain truths must be established in any growth initiative rooted in transparency, participation, and collaboration. Regarding municipal information and innovation it should be acknowledged that:

  1. Capitalism works best when expanding participation in economies.
  2. The need to share info supersedes the need to protect info and incentivizes offensive security.
  3. Following the lead of Federal, State, & Foreign governments, US cities in 2014 are not reinventing the wheel, they are refurbishing the ideal of openness.

The implementation of growth comes in the form of the Clouds, Data, Analytics, PR, & Engagement.

The 21st century has moved beyond web 2.0 to start bridging the communication gaps between us all, making life as we know it more effective (qualitative) and efficient (quantitative). Like any transformation its the journey of arrival that is important as the end goal may actually transform itself during the journey. working with CIOs across North America, Europe, and Southern Africa I haven’t experienced opposition to the ideal that there is no such thing as sustainable security in info tech. We can only be offensive in offering an agile and active monitoring of valued info assets.

Clouds Offer Transparent Security

The cloud is a safe and inexpensive place to either present migrated data or mirror data that has been normalized and cleaned for external review. Deploying a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) and even a Data Board to avoid dangerous mosaic effect‘s can be avoided through staggering access to data sets. Requiring more information from end users is a sturdy offensive security measure. For instance web portal (most open), single sign-on (moderately open), and active directory (less open). Ensuring that ownership of shared data remains specific to the original source or curator of the data-set is key in providing agile security. For instance, transportation, health, and education should not share responsibility over data-sets, although they may collaborate through the open data initiative to streamline traffic for transit to schools. Lastly a data lifecycle or maintenance schedule keeps intelligent eyes on the interaction of end-users with data-sets.

  • Mosaic Effect – Is a phenomena where a data-set that is deemed innocuous pose a privacy breach when combined with others.



Data Driven Decision Making

Local governments stand to make more progress by incentivizing more participation through open data sets. These datasets alone, like a crime manifest from a local police department, are not as valuable as when individuals are empowered to interact with the manifest based on the things that they see without the police. Moreover, the bread crumbs that we leave in the world per our GPS location and the things we like/dislike, eat, laugh about, and most importantly the things that we share with other. identifying the connections between the people and the algorithms that power information systems

barriers are not about the data or the size of the data. The barriers are about how we analyze this data and how do we develop a new system. So much so that every question we ask about these new data-sets is significant because it creates a precedence that spawns truths that require testing (regardless of how niche). This makes the “scientific method” weak, because the building of knowledge is no longer linear, its now exponential and possible too fledgling to be methodological. From this time of extremely large data-sets, we need to build our governments and other institutions to be equipped to test scenarios and ideas in real-time, at least from a data standpoint.

Data Analytics

The moniker Transparency is a sure-fire way to verbally acknowledge that a new day is avaiable for concerned constituencies in any democratic locale. Information and Innovation go hand and hand, as information is a prime currency of participation. The more we document, the more we have the ability to assign values of sorts to. Those values have an monetary assignment.


Local governments can leverage the public data and the way individuals manipulate public data-sets by offering additions, to start to understand how to prioritize the business of government.

Recent ReportsDamaged Sign

Boston uses mobile apps called “Citizens Connect” to allow individuals to upload pot-holes on active maps, in order to plan road maintenance. Aside form the operational impact of these software applications, there are real rhetoric potential in communication the ability to government to take action in engaging citizens in the business of the cities they inhabit.


Search Engine Optimization is under scrutiny by the Public Relations industry. I’ve read recently that PR is the new SEO. This cannot be true. It reads like a PR marketer trying to justify her craft by harping on the need for “quality” information. While there is still a need for PR professionals, the realm of discovery is purely technological regardless of the media (web, print, etc). Political administrations should desire to control the rhetoric around their initiatives, but beating competitors to the punch and throwing more viewable punches. Boxing puns intended.

  • Backlinks from reputable sources often mean a link back to a client’s website from a news outlet. Now, PR agencies aren’t just securing great media placements, they’re boosting a client’s SEO value when that third-party article goes live and links back to the site.
  • Content is more important than ever in the SEO game. But the content has to be good. PR has been writing bylines on behalf of clients already, which means search-optimized blog posts, knowledgeable contributed articles, and other content are a natural step – and great for SEO.
  • Social media has already been the domain of PR for a long while. Now that Google is placing more emphasis on “social search” by weighing likes, Tweets, +1s, and other social shares, social promotion and community building is foundational to effective SEO strategies.

Engagement via Communicating Innovation

Note: the role of ‘Innovation is new. Institutions (governments, corporations) have been innovation since existence, so why the new role of Chief Innovation Officer? There are many reasons, but three reasons stand out.

  1. The rate of disruption had increased: via tech (methodological, hardware, software).
  2. Reinvigorate old institutions: organizational sustainability relies on agile development.
  3. We now understand the dynamics of innovation: building into our long-term strategy.

Every locale should have a Chief Innovation Officer role to ensure that the concerned people/parties are aware of how the outside world affects their local ecosystem. I was recently invited by Miriam Bekkouche the CIO at the Canadian Consulate in NYC for a “celebration for innovation in fintech” which showcased their “Mission to New York City” and their in financial technology. A few weeks later the British Consulate invited me to their “Mission to New York City” for advertising technology start-ups looking for new business in the US.

british consulateOf course NYC is a unique place, but think of the potential of an ailing city like Detroit leveraging its foreign consulates to invite opportunities to taut potential partnerships locally, which building new infrastructure that supports growth. As with any growth initiative optimism is a corner stone, and communication of the endeavor to grow is just as important as the operational execution. CIO’s are a partner if cataloging innovations to be adopted; as well as, the primary communicator of actual growth.