Following a recent state sponsored Open Data Summit, Vermont is launching a new open data pilot project focused on compiling and opening local government data. Harry Bell of Vermont’s Department of Information and Innovation said at the event that the state will be migrating away from its current website to one powered by open data principles and offering new datasets to the public.
Vermont is a very new entrant to open data, and some advances in government websites. The state signed a contract just last week to push its first 10 datasets to the public through a website. Those datasets and the website will be handled by Socrata which got a $12,000 award to put them online. Bell says that more is planned for the future and that Vermont would like to be more proactive in its disclosure of information.
The Open Data Summit itself had a wide ranging agenda, focused on assessing the state of affairs in local government, including current open records practices as well as room for improvement. Some of the lag in Vermont’s embrace of open data may be due to a strong pro-privacy bent in its constituency. According to the VTDigger, some local residents and government officials feel that agencies shouldn’t be posting information online.
Some state officials voiced the benefits of open data including time and cost savings for government workers, however, that will also require an upgrade to the state’s local technology infrastructure. Much of the government data that could be shared is still stored in mainframe computer systems. This may seem surprising to more tech savvy readers, but as CivSource has reported, even large resource rich cities like New York only recently moved off of a mainframe system in its Department of Finance.