Houston’s new data policy opens door to business opportunities


The city of Houston has signed off on an open data policy that will unlock a treasure chest of new information for developers and citizens.

The open data policy is the latest step in a series of initiatives to make the city’s government more transparent. It will create the platform for data to be logged and collected on a variety of different topics.

From this new data base, any developer can access noncritical and nonconfidential information and use it to show new development, neighborhood complaints or a variety of other tools, said the city’s enterprise data officer, Jackie Smith.

Mayor Annise Parker signed the policy Sept. 18, but now the real work starts. The city will form an advisory board to flesh out the full aspects of the policy, what data to include and the framework for how often it should be refreshed. It’s also to ensure the policy remains in place after the current administration is gone, Smith told the Houston Business Journal.

“This is just a piece of paper, but we want to use that as fuel to ignite the open data policy for the city,” said Smith.

While there’s a seemingly endless array of possibilities, a couple of specifics come to mind. By mapping out city data, developers can show citizens patterns for 311 calls, spending and procurement or health inspections in a given area, said Jeff Reichman, co-founder of Open Houston and the city’s recent Hackathon.

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