Lessons Learned from a Regional Approach to Open Data and Civic Apps

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Skip Newberry serves as Economic Development Policy Advisor to Portland Mayor Sam Adams. A significant portion of Skip's work focuses on developing initiatives to support Portland's software and digital media industries. Last year, Skip's projects included helping to draft the City of Portland's open source procurement and open data policy, which was adopted by Portland City Council in September of 2009. Since then, he has been working with Portland's Bureau of Technology Services to launch Civic Apps for Greater Portland the nation's first regional open data and software application design contest. Other recent projects include contributing to the development of a community broadband strategy for Portland and identifying ways for local government to serve as a test market for new and innovative technology. Since Washington, DC, launched Apps for Democracy, the popularity of public sector open data initiatives and software application design contests has been on the rise at the State and local levels. Nevertheless, these initiatives face three major challenges, and all three relate to support and adoption: 1. support and adoption from public sector agencies, departments, bureaus, and elected officials; 2. support and adoption from software developers; and 3. support and adoption from the users of software apps and open data. In the near future, collaboration amongst different jurisdictions in standardizing data across local, county, state, and international boundaries will pose significant challenges. I do not think these are insurmountable. This presentation focuses on the regional nature of a modest open data and app design contest in the Portland area called Civic Apps for Greater Portland, and attempts to share lessons learned.

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