The Carolina Public Press, an investigative organization in North Carolina is launching a regional transparency project with the help of the Sunlight Foundation. The project, called Open WNC, will focus on Western North Carolina and aims to use public data to provide information and improve civic life.
A major component of the project will be the launch of an online platform and website, www.openwnc.org, with the assistance, insight and input of its developing partnership of academic, media, municipal government and community organizations. CPP anticipates that www.openwnc.org will launch in July.
The project is backed by a $10,000 grant from the Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit focused on government transparency and civic engagement.
Current Open WNC partners include the communications and journalism departments at Appalachian State University, UNC Asheville and Western Carolina University, as well as the community group Code for Asheville. Code for Asheville is an Asheville-based non-government organization that seeks to improve the way local government works by bringing people, technology and the efforts of civic hackers together.
Already, ASU, UNCA and WCU journalism professors are collaborating on a joint effort looking at water quality data throughout the region. The results of those efforts will be incorporated into the www.openwnc.org website.
Project leaders also anticipate that the site will contain information such as county and municipal budgets, public meetings announcements and agendas, meeting minutes, and data on topics ranging from community demographics, unemployment and wages to health care, education and home ownership data. It will also include state government information such as direct links to state legislators’ homepages, links to bills of importance to Western North Carolina and campaign finance disclosure reports. All data and records included on the site will be vetted and include originating sources.