OpenDataCincy hopes to improve Cincinnati by collecting and publishing information

OpenDataCincy’s goal is to improve the region by publishing various data sets from the local government and the civic sector.
It has proven successful in other regions. In Boston, for example, the police and fire departments were asked to release the latitude and longitude of each fire hydrant throughout the city.
“They were spending significant time shoveling out snow each winter to make sure they weren’t concealed in case of an emergency, so to take the truck out, manpower it and shovel it out was time-consuming and taxing,” says Erin Kidwell, OpenDataCincy’s program manager. “They could have been focusing on other things. So they published locations of all the fire hydrants, and citizens and community councils took it upon themselves to adopt fire hydrants so that when there was heavy snow, they’d go shovel it themselves. The community made sure the focus for firefighters could be on community safety.”
In an effort to make more data sets available to the public and to put them in the hands of organizations that can make use of them, OpenDataCincy is engaging community members in the Nonprofit Data Challenge.
“Nonprofits are in a tough position and, in most cases, they’re reliant on donations or grant dollars, and a lot of those requests come with a desire for quantifiable evidence as to what their mission and vision is set out to achieve,” Kidwell says. “Not having that sometimes can make it difficult to meet fundraising goals.”
So nonprofits are encouraged to identify data sets they could make use of, submit their ideas to OpenDataCincy, and the public will then have a chance to vote for their favorite nonprofit so that the data can be processed and used to help solve a problem.
Open data policies in other cities have enabled “citizens to be more highly engaged, created economic development, and have allowed technologists to create web apps and sites that have generated betterment to the region,” Kidwell says. “It’s something we’re pretty excited about here.”  

Read more about OpenDataCincy in our four-part Demand Better series.

Do Good:
• Participate in the Nonprofit Data Challenge by nominating data.

• Begin casting your vote in the Nonprofit Data Challenge November 1. 

• Share OpenDataCincy's website with others, and contact the organization to be added to the newsletter and learn more.

By Brittany York
Brittany York is a professor of English composition at both the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

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