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The rise of data has emerged as a major force shaping our lives and communities. There is a growing recognition that expanding access to data can further social and policy goals, including those in community development. The community development field has increasingly turned its attention to how to use data effectively to drive decision making within organizations and to inform policy—an issue covered in depth by this book. Our essay lays out three key policy trends related to data that have received somewhat less attention in the field: open data, My Data, and smart disclosure. We highlight opportunities for community development practitioners to tap into each trend to further their missions in various ways, from augmenting traditional activities such as planning, to creating activities that may be less familiar, such as holding hackathons for software developers to build apps that help residents access community services. Along the way, we provide real-world examples of how community groups are taking advantage of these trends. We conclude by sharing a few practical steps community groups can take to start harnessing open data, My Data, and smart disclosure to support families and strengthen our nation’s communities.

Trend #1: Open Data

The first trend is open data—the release of data that the public can easily access and use. Government agencies are often thought of as the primary publishers of open data; however, business, nonprofit organizations, researchers, and other private entities are increasingly adopting open data policies as a core practice.

What makes data open?[1] Open data should be as easy to use as possible. This means data formats should be “machine readable”—that is, able to be processed by readily available software.[2] Open data should involve nonproprietary data formats (e.g., CSV) so that users are not obliged to license particular software to use the data. Finally, open data should be easy to access. For example, an open data publisher may allow the public to download the data in bulk or access the data through an application programming interface (API) that allows developers to write software that can automatically request data. The public should also have legal rights to reuse data—the broader the public’s rights to reuse, the more open the data.[3]

Open data have taken root at the federal, state, and local levels. The Obama administration has created Data.gov, a platform that allows the public to search tens of thousands of federal open data sets. In May 2013, President Obama directed steps to increase the amount of open data available to the public.[4] Under the new policy, all newly generated government data must be made available in open, machine-readable formats that are designed to ensure privacy and security.

States and local governments have also embraced open data. Cities including Chicago, New York, and San Francisco, for example, have released a wide variety of data sets on local issues, ranging from crime data, to real-time bus routes, to the locations of grocery stores.

Standards are particularly important to make local data usable at national scale. A growing number of local officials and advocates are working to standardize local data formats for data on topics that are common across geographic areas. For example, communities have worked together to promote Open311, a standard, open protocol for nonemergency municipal service requests.[5]

Open data have created new opportunities for innovation throughout the community development field, including in housing, health, education, transportation, workforce development, and financial empowerment. One of the most substantial opportunities for community development organizations is to use open data to enhance data-driven decision making, such as using open data to enhance the mapping of community needs and assets, program evaluations, and planning and participation efforts. Open data can help create tools to map, visualize, and analyze community assets and needs. Data can be used to develop insights on the nature and causes of issues, and to evaluate solutions. Organizations can also take advantage of various free and low-cost software tools to enable residents to interact with—and even help create—open data to learn about issues and to engage in dialog and action.

Data Driven Detroit, an NNIP member, and technology firm Loveland Technologies have used open data to help drive evidence-based planning in their community. The organizations have joined forces to conduct the Motor City Mapping project, in which more than 100 residents helped to collect and map data about every parcel in Detroit.[6] The project will enable city government, community groups, philanthropists, and the private sector to have a common understanding of the size and spatial pattern of problem properties, and it will help in formulating informed approaches to tackle blight in the city.[7]

Another major opportunity for community organizations is using open data to help connect residents to community services and resources. Community groups can use open data on social services and benefits that already exist in some communities to create tools that help residents access local services. In addition, community groups can use resident feedback and other service quality data to help residents access the highest-quality services available and to inform campaigns to improve services.

Community groups can engage with efforts underway to release and standardize open data on public benefits and social services.[8] For example, the Open Referral Initiative is an effort to develop common standards and open platforms for sharing community resource directory data (e.g., local 2-1-1 systems).[9] It will be important for the community development field to have a voice in these standards development processes so that the standards reflect the unique expertise of the field and the specific needs that community development organizations will have when they use the data.

Finally, privacy must be a cornerstone of any open data effort. In some cases, open data are released in anonymized form (i.e., after being stripped of details, such as names and addresses, that could identify individuals), or in the form of aggregated data derived from data sets that contain personal information. Data must be carefully reviewed so that personal information, particularly sensitive personal information, is not released in a manner inconsistent with the standards or requirements applicable to the entity that maintains the data. Such reviews must consider the mosaic effect, which occurs when the information in an individual data set, in isolation, may not pose a risk of identifying an individual, but when combined with other available information, could pose such risk.

Open data are affecting communities across the country in a number of ways. For example:

Thirty-five communities participating in the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) coordinated by the Urban Institute have created neighborhood-level information systems to support community building and local decision making.[1] Although some of these groups have been collecting government data for more than 20 years, open data efforts by government agencies have expanded the data available for these systems. For example, Urban Strategies Council, the NNIP partner in Oakland, California, launched InfoAlamedaCounty. Using Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), foreclosure, and other data to create maps that illuminate trends affecting community residents, InfoAlamedaCounty draws on data sources from federal and local agencies to help support data-driven decision making in Alameda County.[2] Long before the term open data was common, community development groups used published data, at no cost, from government sources to understand the needs and opportunities in their communities, identify community assets, and measure changes to shed light on program effectiveness. Advances in open data have fueled growth in the scale and scope of these efforts.

The US government provides the Global Positioning Service (GPS) for civilian use, free of direct user fees. GPS has unleashed innovations that contribute an estimated $90 billion to the U.S. economy each year. GPS also powers mobile apps such as iTriage, which helps consumers find nearby federally subsidized community health centers.[3]

The nonprofit organization OpenPlans has created easy-to-use tools that community groups can employ to collect data to contribute to shaping the future of their neighborhoods and cities. One of its tools, called Shareabouts, allows community groups to collect their own data, visualize the data with mapping software (powered by open map data), facilitate community dialog, and survey residents—and then use that data to influence local planning.[4]

[1]   National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, http://www.neighborhoodindicators.org/. See T. Kingsley, K. Pettit, and L. Hendey, “Strengthening Local Capacity for Data-Driven Decisionmaking” (Washington, DC: National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, June 2013), http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412883-Strengthening-Local-Capacity-For-Data-Driven-Decisionmaking.pdf.

[2]   InfoAlamedaCounty Map Room, http://www.viewer.infoalamedacounty.org/. InfoAlamedaCounty’s data sources are listed at http://www.infoalamedacounty.org/index.php/Data/Metadata-Sources.html.

[3]   For more background on iTriage, see Health Resources and Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services, “Health Centers and Look-alike Sites Data Download,” http://catalog.data.gov/dataset/health-centers-and-look-alike-sites-data-download. The clinic locations themselves are also available as open data from Health and Human Services.

[4]   OpenPlans, Shareabouts, http://openplans.org/work/shareabouts/.

Trend #2: My Data

Another key data trend that will help reshape the community development field is “My Data,” which involves making data on a particular individual available to that individual in a usable format. The data are provided in a manner designed to ensure privacy and security. My Data efforts aim to help individuals unlock the value of the large amounts of personal data they generate in their daily lives.

Governments, nonprofit organizations, and businesses are embracing My Data in areas including health, education, energy, and personal finance. Patients, for example, are downloading their electronic medical records to share vital information with their doctors. Homeowners are analyzing their energy use data to save money on their bills. Commercial building operators are using data on their electricity use to improve energy efficiency. Students are using their personal data to determine eligibility for college grants and loans.

The technical implementation of My Data has many parallels to open data. The goal of My Data is to make it as easy as possible for an individual to access and use his or her personal data or share the information with trusted third parties. Ideally, individuals can thus access their My Data in open, machine-readable formats on the internet. In addition, as in the case of open data, data providers make My Data available to the individual for download and through APIs.

Privacy and security are paramount for My Data. Data providers must take steps to verify the identity of the individual requesting the data (a step known as “authenticating” the individual) and that the data are delivered securely. My Data providers often use customized systems to authenticate the individual (such as asking the individual to provide information that can be checked against the provider’s own internal records), widely used commercial authentication solutions offered by credit bureaus or others, or a combination of the two.[10]

Using personal data for income and asset verification illustrates how My Data can positively affect community development, social services, and beyond. Today, many agencies, companies, and organizations in the housing ecosystem must collect personal financial information from individuals. Lenders use this information to establish eligibility and to price loans. Servicers require this information before providing foreclosure assistance. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit property managers verify tenant income. Public housing authorities verify eligibility for affordable housing programs such as the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.[11]

These paper-based data collection and verification processes exact a toll on the housing ecosystem (as they do throughout the social service ecosystem). They create friction that impedes enrollment in programs. They increase administrative costs for housing providers, including costs for cash-strapped nonprofit organizations and public agencies. Furthermore, they add to the stress and burden of residents who are already under pressure—at worst leading families in need to give up on accessing benefits or services owing to frustration or confusion. In the course of a year, a low-income resident may have to satisfy multiple verifiers—a term for the organization that is verifying the resident’s financial information—whether for housing or for other program administrators (e.g., nutrition assistance). Each verifier may require different documents, such as tax returns; W2s; pay stubs; letters from employers to confirm employment and salary; bank account statements; documentation related to assets such as vehicles; letters to certify benefits received (e.g., disability benefits); and evidence of expenses (e.g., child care). Residents often need to produce documents in person, by mail, or by fax.

Access to personal financial data via My Data can free residents, lenders, housing providers, and program administrators from burdensome paperwork. Government has a major role to play, as state and federal agencies must already collect certain financial records electronically, such as income tax returns, benefits records, and wage reports.

The federal government has made progress in making it simpler for individuals to access and share critical financial records electronically. For example, in 2013, the IRS made it easier for taxpayers to share tax returns with lenders and other third parties through the IRS’s Income Verification Express Service (IVES) by making it possible for taxpayers to electronically sign the request to share their returns.[12]

In addition, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has made it easier to access the letters it has historically provided as proof of benefits information.[13] Community residents may need to provide these letters to prove their income when applying for a mortgage, housing, or other benefits.[14] The SSA now allows beneficiaries to download an electronic copy of this letter via the online mySocialSecurity account, increasing convenience for both beneficiaries and verifiers.

Community development practitioners should consider helping residents take advantage of new My Data systems, such as the new My Data resources accessible from the IRS and SSA. Such systems can help streamline and reduce administrative costs, reduce burdens, and ultimately ensure that more families have access to affordable housing, homeownership, and critical social services.

Trend #3: Smart Disclosure

The last data trend is smart disclosure, which is the release of data that helps consumers make more informed decisions and adopt positive behaviors—all by enabling innovators to build data-driven tools for consumers called choice engines, such as comparison shopping apps or personal dashboards.

Why should community development practitioners care about consumer issues, including smart disclosure? Every day, residents make decisions in consumer markets that can have significant and long-lasting effects on their lives, as well as the lives of their neighbors—whether they are deciding where to buy a home, where to go to college, or what kind of car to drive. Consumer decisions can ultimately affect the entire nation, as the mortgage crisis showed.

The promise of empowering consumers is why the Obama administration has promoted smart disclosure throughout the U.S. government, including creating the Task Force on Smart Disclosure and creating Consumer.Data.gov, a centralized platform for federal smart disclosure data sets and resources that community development organizations can start taking advantage of today.[15]

Two types of smart disclosure exist: The first is composed of open data relevant to consumer decisions, such as data on product recalls or college graduation rates. The second is composed of My Data relevant to consumer decisions, such as a consumer’s own electricity use data, which consumers can use to evaluate which services may best meet their needs. Figure 1 shows the relationship between smart disclosure, open data, and My Data, which illustrates that a smart disclosure initiative can involve the release of open data, My Data, or a combination of both.

Figure 1. The large circle represents government policies to expand access to data. Smart Disclosure can involve open data, My Data, or both.

Figure 1. The large circle represents government policies to expand access to
data. Smart Disclosure can involve open data, My Data, or both.

 

Some tech-savvy consumers may analyze smart disclosure data directly. However, for the vast majority of consumers, smart disclosure will have an effect by enabling third parties to create choice engines—software-based tools that help consumers make more informed decisions. Today, many consumers use popular data-driven choice engines to compare airline flights, for example. Nonprofit organizations are also creating choice engines, such as GreatSchools, which helps parents choose a local school using government data.

Smart disclosure also helps create market pressure on suppliers of goods and services to improve. For example, the nonprofit organization Code for America, the City of San Francisco, and Yelp have worked together to make restaurant health inspection data available as standardized open data.[16] Yelp now prominently displays health scores on restaurant search pages. In the short term, consumers can choose to eat at restaurants with higher ratings. In the long term, restaurants may come under pressure to improve their food safety practices to stay competitive.

Several services are appearing that use smart disclosure data to help residents choose healthier options. The Healthy Shoppers Reward Program, led by the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion at Syracuse University, illustrates the potential for smart disclosure to improve community health by enabling residents to make healthier food shopping choices.[17] Residents see a simplified nutrition score for food items at a local grocery store partner, so they can easily compare the health effects of foods. They can also choose to share the data on the scores and food items they purchase with physicians at a nearby health center, who can then provide personalized care informed by the patients’ diets—and even write prescriptions for vegetables. Some simpler apps aim to tackle a narrower—but nonetheless important—problem: helping consumers locate healthier food options. For example, several apps help residents find farmers’ markets and other fresh food in their neighborhoods using public data. In addition, many apps use open nutrition data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help individuals make healthier eating choices.

Housing is an example of an area ripe for innovation using smart disclosure data. Commercial real estate and rental sites are already actively embracing smart disclosure to make it easier for families to decide where to live using open data, often from federal, state, and local governments. Trulia and Zillow, two popular real estate and rental search sites, for example, leverage data from government agencies to help individuals make informed decisions on where to live. Community groups and coalitions have an opportunity to build on these mainstream housing search innovations by developing the next generation of choice engines tailored to the unique needs of individuals looking for affordable housing options, including filters such as income eligibility, acceptance of Section 8 vouchers, and proximity to social services a family may need.

How to Start Taking Advantage of Open Data, My Data, and Smart Disclosure to Build Stronger Communities

For those who have not begun to incorporate open data, My Data, and smart disclosure into their toolkits, there are simple ways to begin putting valuable data to work immediately in communities. The approaches described below are designed to be accessible to a range of organizations. Some community organizations may choose to use these approaches as part of a comprehensive data strategy. Organizations facing significant capacity constraints can use the list to select small-scale, manageable ways to begin leveraging data as a part of their missions. In addition, community groups can work through coalitions to engage in efforts that require more resources than are available at the local level.

Become a more data-driven organization by leveraging open data, My Data, and smart disclosure

Not only is government opening its data, but increasingly government- and foundation-sponsored community development programs are requiring grant recipients to offer data-driven diagnoses of their local needs, or data-driven assessments of local assets to demonstrate that a plan is workable. Furthermore, federal programs increasingly want recipients to rigorously measure results. Organizations may consider how open data can help them streamline the work of diagnosing need or measuring results. There are a variety of methods to find the most relevant data resources. For example, you can use government open-data search platforms to regularly discover new data sets relevant to your work. Platforms such as the federal government’s Data.gov can help you search for data relevant to your existing programs. Depending on your topic or complexity of the data, you may need to enlist the assistance of your expert allies to locate and process needed data.

Become a data provider yourself—that is, create and/or publish open data, My Data, or smart disclosure data that others can use

Does your organization have data sets that could be valuable if released as open data, made available to individuals as My Data, or used to support smart disclosure? The San Francisco−based nonprofit social service referral system One Degree, for example, has announced that it will publish the database of social service nonprofit organizations and agencies it has built, including customer reviews and feedback.[18] A first step could be taking an inventory of the data assets your organization possesses and prioritizing the release of data sets based on your mission objectives. Outside individuals and groups may have useful insights into which data sets would be valuable. For example, you can write a blog post listing the data sets you maintain and ask stakeholders to comment on which should be released.

Releasing open data does not have to be difficult given the tools and best practices that have become available in recent years. Becoming a publisher can be as simple as adding several links to your website to download a few valuable data files. For organizations with very large data inventories, off-the-shelf solutions are available for publishing open data catalogs. A number of nongovernmental organizations have used the open source open data platform CKAN, for example, including the community-driven OpenOakland data catalog.[19] Community groups interested in publishing anonymized open data on individuals, or information derived from data about individuals (such as statistical data), should consult with experts—such as nonprofit organizations specialized in open data or privacy—about best practices and legal compliance.

Successful data providers embrace open data or My Data as a core part of organizational culture. Consider developing challenge goals for your organization, such as releasing the underlying data for every report your organization publishes. Or consider adopting an “open-by-default” presumption that all your organization’s data should be made accessible while protecting privacy and security—similar to the new federal Open Data Policy that makes newly generated data sets open by default.

Identify and fill data gaps

You may need new data initiatives to further your organization’s mission. In this case, your organization can identify data gaps and work to fill them. Sometimes an organization can fill these gaps directly, either by collecting and releasing new data sets or funding such collection and release.

Often the needed data sets are already in the government vaults. At the national level, under the terms of the new federal Open Data Policy, any data sets in the agency’s data inventory that can be made publicly available must be listed on the agency’s website to the extent practicable.[20] This includes data sets that can be made publicly available but have not yet been released. Community groups are now able to review data sets that could be released in an easy-to-use catalog on Data.gov and provide feedback to agencies.

In addition, various public disclosures and notice laws, as well as freedom of information laws, provide a view of what information government bodies already collect. For example, at the federal level, the Privacy Act of 1974 requires that agencies publish certain notices in connection with information systems that contain personally identifiable data. These notices can be used to identify many potentially valuable personal databases maintained by federal agencies.[21] The Paperwork Reduction Act requires that detailed descriptions of many forms, known as information collections, be made available to the public.[22] Paperwork Reduction Act notices can also be used to discover potentially valuable databases housed at federal agencies that could be made available to the public.

If you have an agency data set identified, government bodies often have channels for the public to provide feedback on data. Under the federal Open Data Policy, for example, all federal agencies must establish a process to solicit feedback on open data, which should be disclosed on their agency websites. Public officials rely on domain experts to generate ideas for how data sets could be used. In addition, community groups have also participated in passing data laws, such as local open data laws that have been enacted New York City, Oakland, and other localities.

Community organizations can also work with private sector data custodians. Many businesses have an interest in adopting open data, My Data, or smart disclosure initiatives. Corporate data access initiatives may be motivated by commercial imperatives and corporate values; in addition, laws or regulations sometimes require entities to provide individuals with access to their personal records or open data (e.g., personal information in the health, education, and finance sectors). Many companies release free open data through APIs for commercial purposes.

Community organizations can facilitate access to data held by companies by making the case that investing in data initiatives will benefit the company and advance values aligned with the company’s mission. There are several examples of successful public sector- and nonprofit-led initiatives to encourage companies to voluntarily adopt open data, My Data, and smart disclosure. For example, utilities throughout the country have voluntarily given customers access to their own energy use data.[23] Hospitals, doctors, and others have also voluntarily given patients access to electronic health records.[24] The nonprofit organization Health Data Consortium fosters collaboration among government, nonprofit, and private-sector organizations working to increase the availability and use of data to improve health, including data from private-sector providers.

Foster the development of a vibrant ecosystem of companies, nonprofit organizations, and others working to solve problems in your field.

One effective tactic is to raise awareness of data to help address the “last mile” challenge common to many open data, My Data, and smart disclosure efforts—that is, the problem that data cannot simply be published; rather, data must be put to work by companies and nonprofit organizations to be genuinely effective. You can help increase awareness of data resources to ensure a positive impact in your community. Actively publicizing data resources is a critical part of ensuring that nonprofit organizations, businesses, and others ultimately discover and use the data in ways that benefit the public.

A basic way to begin this process is becoming a data curator: developing and maintaining public listings of data resources in one area or that are relevant to a particular challenge. The NNIP community-based curated open data portals exemplify this type of approach. Although many government platforms such as Data.gov make it easy to search within a particular government body’s data, solutions are needed for searching for data across multiple sources by topic. You can easily create and maintain a simple webpage with a directory of data sets from various sources that are relevant for your mission.

Another potentially powerful outreach tactic is using challenges, such as offering a prize for the top solution to a problem. Difficult and meaningful problems are the most likely to attract participants. Free resources are available to help learn more about how to structure a prize for maximum effect, as well as entities that specialize in helping others administer prizes.[25]

Organizations can also sponsor short, focused events where individuals come together to build applications or analyze data with or without the structure of a prize. Such events, including hackathons, hack nights, and code sprints, are common throughout the technology world. They are often most useful for building community and generating simple prototypes and ideas, rather than creating full-fledged software applications. For example, a community-based hackathon held in Minneapolis yielded projects to assess the use of bus stops; facilitate dialogue between parents and schools; promote a local child care center; and visualize local crime data.[26] The field is building a set of best practices for making these days the most productive with closer connection to community needs.[27]

Depending on the context, the last mile problem may be solved by engaging or creating an ecosystem of data innovators. Community members may help you achieve your mission using a range of ways, whether by creating new products and companies, conducting new analyses, generating new ideas and feedback, or even serving as a recruitment pipeline for your organization.

It is important to identify goals that are broad enough to sustain an ongoing community. Particularly in smaller communities, you may need to extend your geographic reach to locate enough potential community members, such as by partnering with national organizations or other local groups. If your issue or problem is too narrow or time-limited to attract a dedicated, ongoing community of data users, you can also join existing communities, such as mission-driven civic hackers, that are often looking for interesting projects or challenges.

Build Capacity

To implement any of these strategies, you may need to build capacity in your organization to work with data. This may entail securing resources to hire additional staff with expertise in data, such as software engineers and data analysts. Consider expanding your capacity in this area by taking advantage of free resources and partnering with data and technology-savvy partners. Many organizations and companies provide technical assistance, tools, and learning opportunities for those who want to learn to use open data.[28] In addition, an increasing number of free tools are available to teach the basics of software programming and data analysis.

An increasing number of nonprofit organizations, foundations, independent citizens, and others have extensive expertise in open data, My Data, and smart disclosure. They frequently partner with community-based organizations and can help supplement organizations’ capacity to engage in data and technology projects. For example, through the Code for America Brigade program, citizens, technologists, community groups, and others come together to tackle problems in their cities using open data and other technology-based approaches. Data Science for Social Good is a fellowship program that places highly skilled data analysts in nonprofit organizations to tackle problems with a social impact. They have partnered with the Cook County Land Bank and Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University to build an open source analytics tool to help the land bank make data-driven decisions on which properties to acquire and redevelop.[29]

Some important movements and groups for community organizations to connect with include civic hackers[30] (focused on using technology to improve government and civic life, often at the local level); civic startups (often focused on building commercially viable products that benefit communities or citizens); open government and transparency advocates; community data organizations; data journalists; privacy and personal data access advocates; urban planners; and participatory budgeting groups. Often, these groups are actively seeking partners with specific domain expertise.

The Road Ahead for Community Development, Open Data, My Data, and Smart Disclosure

Community development practitioners now enjoy a tremendous variety of opportunities to innovate by building on the growing tide of data access initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels. For many organizations, taking advantage of these opportunities will require significant investments. Organizations will need to augment their technical capacity and, in some cases, hire staff with new types of expertise. Organizations will need to engage in new ways of doing business, such as working with private-sector software developers or holding contests open to the public. The examples in this chapter illustrate that many organizations have already started this transition, with powerful dividends for their local communities. Going forward, the community development field should continue to push the boundaries of how data can be used to lift people out of poverty, promote well-being, strengthen neighborhoods, and contribute to a more vibrant economy. In addition, the field should continue to explore broader ways to raise capacity of the sector to ensure that the benefits of open data, My Data, and smart disclosure reach all communities.

 

[1]   The federal Open Data Policy defines open data as “publicly available data structured in a way that enables the data to be fully discoverable and usable by end users.” Office of Management and Budget, “Managing Information as an Asset.” OMB Memorandum M-13-13 (Washington, DC: OMB, May 9, 2013) [hereinafter the federal Open Data Policy], http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/2013/m-13-13.pdf. For an in-depth discussion of the definition of open data from one nongovernment organization’s perspective, see Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Data Handbook (Cambridge, UK: Open Knowledge Foundation, 2012), http://opendatahandbook.org/en/index.html. Tim Berners-Lee, Director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and member of the UK government’s Transparency Board, has proposed a five-star continuum of linked open data. See post, “Linked Data” (July 27, 2006), http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/LinkedData.html. The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit organization advocating for government transparency and accountability, has developed 10 principles for open data, available here: http://sunlightfoundation.com/policy/documents/ten-open-data-principles/.

[2]   For a more comprehensive introduction to some of the key technical concepts involved in open data, such as machine readability and application programming interfaces, see Data.gov, “A Primer on Machine Readability for Online Documents and Data” (Washington, DC: Data.gov), www.data.gov/developers/blog/primer-machine-readability-online-documents-and-data.

[3]   In some cases, governments or private entities may use alternative or hybrid types of open licenses, such as licenses that allow for the free reuse of data for noncommercial purposes. See, e.g., the Open Knowledge Foundation’s Open Data Commons, http://opendatacommons.org/ (free legal tools to help the public provide and use open data, including model licenses).

[4]   On May 9, 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order No. 13642, “Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information.” See www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/09/executive-order-making-open-and-machine-readable-new-default-government-.
The Executive Order directs agencies to follow the federal Open Data Policy.

[5]   See www.Open311.org for more background on the Open311 standardization effort.

[6]   For a description of the project, see Skillman Foundation, “Video: See How the Biggest Data Set of Detroit Blight is Being Built” (Detroit, Skillman Foundation, February 7, 2014), available at www.skillman.org/Knowledge-Center/A-Rose-for-Detroit-Blog/Motor-City-Mapping-Detroit-blight-Skillman-Foundation#sthash.x9ugymHl.dpuf.

[7]   A detailed description of the Motor City Mapping Project and the full report of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force can be found at the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force site at www.timetoendblight.com.

[8]   For background on efforts to standardize social service data, see Greg Bloom, “Towards a Community Data Commons.” In Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation, edited by Brett Goldstein with Lauren Dyson (San Francisco, CA: Code for America Press, 2013). http://beyondtransparency.org/chapters/part-5/towards-a-community-data-commons/.

[9]   Open Referral, http://openreferral.org/.

[10]  The ubiquity of e-commerce and other transactions involving sensitive personal data exchange via the internet has increased a wide range of readily available technical solutions for entities considering implementing My Data initiatives.

[11]  Public housing authorities are also required to use the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Enterprise Income Verification system (EIV) to verify income reported by program participants. For more background on this system, see U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “Enterprise Income Verification (EIV) System” (Washington, DC: HUD, 2013), available at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/public_indian_housing/programs/ph/rhiip/uivsystem.

[12]  Income Verification Express homepage, http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Income-Verification-Express-Service.

[13]  These letters are known as “budget letters,” “benefits letters,” “proof of income letters,” or “proof of award letters.”

[14]  The letter can also be used to establish current Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement status, and disability status.

[15]  A comprehensive overview of smart disclosure, including examples of smart disclosure initiatives at the federal level, can be found in the White House Task Force on Smart Disclosure Final Report, “Smart Disclosure and Consumer Decision Making: Report of the Task Force on Smart Disclosure.” (Washington, DC: White House Task Force on Smart Disclosure, May 2013), available at www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/report_of_the_task_force_on_smart_disclosure.pdf.

[16]  Code for America and Yelp are working to expand the number of localities that adopt the restaurant inspection open data standard used in San Francisco, known as LIVES. See “Foodies and Open Data Enthusiasts Rejoice,” Code for America Blog (January 17, 2013), http://www.codeforamerica.org/2013/01/17/foodies-and-open-data-enthusiasts-rejoice/.

[17]  Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, “New Program Rewards Healthy Shopping” (Syracuse, NY: Lerner Center, 2014), available at http://lernercenter.syr.edu/projects/Healthy-Shopper-Rewards.html.

[18]  One Degree, “One Degree Resource Server” (beta). See https://data.1deg.org.

[19]  OpenOakland, Open Oakland Data Catalog, data.openoakland.org. CKAN was developed by the nonprofit organization Open Knowledge Foundation and is overseen by the CKAN association. For more examples of organizations using CKAN, see “CKAN Instances Around the World,” www.ckan.org/instances and CKAN case studies, www.ckan.org/case-studies.

[20]  Agency open data pages are typically available by typing the agency’s main URL and then adding “/data” at the end, so that the ultimate URL looks like www.[agency].gov/data (e.g., www.treasury.gov/data).

[21]  A directory of federal agency System of Records Notice (SORN) homepages can be found at https://cio.gov/about/groups/privacy-cop/privacy/. For an example of SORN, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s SORN providing notice of its Consumer Response System, https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2012/10/19/2012-25487/privacy-act-of-1974-system-of-records#h-11. The CFPB publishes anonymous complaints from the Consumer Response System as open data at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaintdatabase/.

[22]  The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs makes information about federal information collections available for search and for download in machine readable formats at Reginfo.gov. See http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRASearch (to search all information collections from federal agencies) and http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAXML (to download a listing and description of all federal information collections in XML format). For an example of the information available on Reginfo.gov associated with each information collection, see the record for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) “Consumer Response Intake Form” at http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=201311-3170-001. The record allows members of the public to view the form that the CFPB is using, including all the individual questions asked.

[23]  See John P. Holdren and Nancy Sutley, “Green Button Giving Millions of Americans Better Handle on Energy Costs,” White House Blog (March 22, 2012), http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2012/03/22/green-button-giving-millions-americans-better-handle-energy-costs.

[24]  HealthIT.gov, “Your Health Records: About Blue Button” (Washington, DC: HealthIT.gov, September 15, 2013), available at www.healthit.gov/patients-families/blue-button/about-blue-button.

[25]  See, e.g., McKinsey & Company, “And the Winner Is… Capturing the Promise of Philanthropic Prizes” (New York, NY: McKinsey & Company, 2012), http://mckinseyonsociety.com/downloads/reports/Social-Innovation/And_the_winner_is.pdf.

[26]  The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, “Techies and Neighborhood Groups Hack Their Way to Community Solutions” (Minneapolis: FRB, October 1, 2013). www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/pub_display.cfm?id=5170&.

[27]  See, e.g., Open Data Society, “Open Data Hackathon How-To Guide” (British Columbia, Canada: Open Data Society, October 2012), available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fBuisDTIiBAz9u2tr7sgv6GdDLOV_aHbafjqHXSkNB0/. For an example of a hackathon, see Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, “Visualizing Neighborhoods: A Hackathon for Good” (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, CURA, May 25, 2013), available at www.cura.umn.edu/visualizingneighborhoods.

[28]  See, e.g., The Open Knowledge Foundation, Open Data Handbook; and Open Data Commons (legal tools for open data), http://opendatacommons.org/guide/; see also the European Journalism Centre and Open Knowledge Foundation, The Data Journalism Handbook (New York: O’Reilly Media, July 2012), available at http://datajournalismhandbook.org/; and Brett Goldstein with Laura Dyson (eds.), Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation (San Francisco, CA: Code for America Press, 2013), http://beyondtransparency.org/.

[29]  Data Science for Social Good, “2013 Projects.” www.dssg.io/projects.

[30]  Hacker is used in a positive way to refer to a programmer throughout the software community. Sometimes the term refers specifically to someone who embodies the principles of such a programmer while making a difference in other domains.