Open Data, Transparency, and Collaboration

Back in June, I had the opportunity to speak at CityCamp NC about a subject that’s especially important to me: Open Data in County Government.

We are facing complex problems. We also have the most educated, creative and engaged citizens in the country. I truly believe that if we work together and collaborate effectively, we will be able to help solve these problems.

Renowned statistician William Edwards Deming once said, “In God we trust, all others bring data.” I could not agree more.

Opening our public data enhances government transparency and collaboration while encouraging a more participatory democracy. Wake is leading the country in making county data available to our community. We’ve moved beyond the expected available data of simple electoral and real estate information to include more complex and detailed information including animal center data, county financial reports, water testing and restaurant sanitation reports.

While that work has positioned Wake County as front runner in making collected data available, we’re not finished yet. We’ve recently launched a beta version of our new portal. This beta makes this wealth of information much more accessible thanks to a friendlier user interface.

We’ve also worked to make this wealth of knowledge available to the community in everyday life.

For example, sharing restaurant sanitation grades with the popular online service Yelp. Wake was the third community in the country to make access to this information so straightforward. In hindsight, it makes a lot of sense: Why shouldn’t sanitation grades be in the same space where thousands of people turn for recommendations on where to eat?

You cannot have effective public policy today without data transparency. I believe Wake County’s new open data portal will fundamentally change how citizens learn about their government and how we can work together to maintain—or even improve—our community’s quality of life.