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The Mechanics
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Technology and Politics Fri May 27 2011

Chicago's Data Starts to Open Up

The Emanuel administration is still settling in, but some changes are already showing up online. The City's data portal now offers an RSS feed of newly created and updated data sets, and the portal is moving beyond FOIA requests to include other data sets, such as the 20 most popular fiction books checked out of the Chicago Public Library and a huge cache of TIF-related documents.

Chief Technology Officer John Tolva said by instant message, "We're only dribbling now. Expect a steady stream." Starting today with the release of building permits data, Tolva said his department plans to being "what we believe will be every-other-day releases of nightly updated sets."

In addition, Tolva and Chief Data Officer Brett Goldstein now have Twitter accounts. Goldstein recently tweeted a link to the City's Open Data API console, where, if you're technically inclined, you may query the database directly.

"We're releasing all this for many reasons, transparency/trust, accountability/efficiency, but also -- and this is important to Brett and I -- to engage makers in building things and helping the city -- providing the public resource for a new kind of civic engagement," Tolva said.

As more substantial data is released, we can expect developers and urban technologists to create tools for exploring and working with the information, much like we saw once the CTA allowed developers access to their bus tracker API.

 
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Feature

Parents Still Steaming, but About More Than Just Boilers

By Phil Huckelberry / 2 Comments

It's now been 11 days since the carbon monoxide leak which sent over 80 Prussing Elementary School students and staff to the hospital. While officials from Chicago Public Schools have partially answered some questions, and CPS CEO Forrest Claypool has informed that he will be visiting the school to field more questions on Nov. 16, many parents remain irate at the CPS response to date. More...

Civics

Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

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Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
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