Cross-jurisdictional shared services has become a growing trend in state and local governments in recent years, but now a city and county in North Carolina are taking that mindset to open data as well.
This summer, the city of Durham and Durham County are expected to launch a joint open data portal where both entities will provide information that can be used for businesses, nonprofits, city leaders and the general public to gain insights into city life.
Greg Marrow, the chief information officer for Durham County, and Kerry Goode, the CIO of Durham County, explained the partnership in a post at OpenSource.com.
“Open data has found the most innovation at the local government level. While not taking away from the efforts of data.gov and the state initiatives, local data has more impact on the day to day lives of civil society,” the two wrote. “A wealth of city and county public data exists, but accessing it can sometimes be time consuming. Now, thanks to a new local government partnership, open data in Durham is just months away from becoming a reality.”
The two organizations are working now on the framework of the portal, which is built from a steady base of open data efforts that the two have undertaken in recent years.
Over the past two years, the two have partnered on civic hackathons that have led to the development of applications for consumers. Code for America has also spent time working with the city and county to deliver an application that presents health inspection reports at local restaurants.
“Between the City and County, a lot of information and data exists in many areas, from transportation to public health,” Durham Mayor Bill Bell said in a statement. “This information has always been publicly available, but open data makes it easier to use by developers, marketers, community enrichment agencies and the general public.”
The idea of local governments joining together on a project like this is fairly new and something likely to become more commonplace in the future. State, county and city governments are beginning to work together as a cost-cutting and convenience measure to better harness resources, using technologies such as cloud email services and data hosting on the same platform.
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers continues to study these partnerships, and has a working group of state and local officials that look into ways that different governments organizations can share technology for the greater good.
Until this partnership, though, there has not been much mention of sharing an open data portal, but it makes sense in many ways as the two municipalities likely face a lot of the same issues and have citizens that live, work and travel in both.
“Durham is uniquely positioned to be a very successful site that demonstrates the business and social potential for open data,” Durham City Manager Thomas Bonfield said in a statement. “Our community’s entrepreneurial energy and creativity gives us an advantage to innovate new ways of doing business by making information readily accessible.”