White House Pushes Open Cities Initiative


The White House is pushing for greater civic engagement through an open data initiative called the “Opportunity Project”. The project was demonstrated at an event held in Washington DC yesterday afternoon.

The outward facing part of the initiative is an open data portal managed by the Census Bureau that houses a range of municipal data that policymakers and developers can use and learn from. Federal data sets are also included on the website and the White House says that more are in the pipeline.

The White House is also using the portal as a hub for data tools that were created in collaboration with eight cities to help users understand what is available in the data and make sense of it. Participating cities include Baltimore, Detroit, Kansas City, MO, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The government also worked with a handful of civic developers including GreatSchools, PolicyLink, Redfin, Streetwyze and Zillow.

In addition to city level work happening nationwide, 30 non-profits, civic groups and other entities have expressed interest in using the data provided by the Opportunity Project to enhance their own work. The White House has also issued a broader call to action to bring in more groups and developers.

The demonstration was held in advance of the President’s trip to SXSW an interactive conference that brings together creatives and knowledge workers. And the conference the President will be giving a talk on civic engagement and how to use new technologies to address civic issues.

The full Opportunity Project website is available here.