Posted by Mick Dumke on Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 11:02 AM
Among his many promises to change the way Chicago operates, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has vowed to bring an unprecedented level of transparency and technological innovation to city operations. “I understand that sounds crazy coming out of a City Hall office,” John Tolva, the city’s new chief technology officer, said in an interview in his office last week.
“Open, participatory government” is one of the top goals listed in the report Emanuel’s transition team released shortly before he took office, and beneath this broad umbrella he’s pledged to create a searchable city budget, tools for tracking how long it takes to get licenses and permits, and smart phone apps for interacting with the 311 information system.
To government reformers, data geeks, and just about anybody else who’s called the city to report a problem, these steps are long overdue. Other cities already share far more information with the public, and that in turn has spurred private-sector innovation that complements official city services. In New York, for example, you can now use an app to help find parking spaces. Closer to home, the Cook County board recently passed a law requiring open-government initiatives at the county level.