This Week in Open Data and Other Civics

Political television ad data, a goldmine of transparency; Illinois, not as corrupt as you might think, depending on how you measure it; a short history of open data in Chicago; our new “convergence cloud”; and more.

Chicago public art

 

* This is a little old, but it’s new to me: “Incomplete Take on the History of Open Data in Chicago.”

Chicago has been a leader in the publication and display of crime data going back 15 years. The Chicago Police Department launched their Citizen ICAM (Information Collection for Automated Mapping) database– a mapping program inside police stations to run on PCs running Windows 95 based on MapInfo 2.0 software. Later renamed CLEARMap (CLEAR stands for Citizen Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting– my goodness, governments love acronyms that make words and near-words), this is the data that fed the groundbreaking ChicagoCrime.org.

* Along those lines, MetroChicagoData.org pulls together city, county, and state data in one place. Digital Communities explains a bit more about our new “convergence cloud.”

* Speaking of transparency:

Some of the results of the State Integrity Investigation seem more than a little counterintuitive.  New Jersey emerges at the top of the pack, a seemingly stunning ranking for a state with a reputation for dirty politics. And there are other surprises: Illinois, hardly a beacon of clean governmental in recent years, comes in at a respectable number 10. Louisiana ranks 15th.

It measures different things, but it’s a good companion to the bleak UIC report about Illinois and Chicago corruption.

* ProPublica and Medill look at Chicago TV political ad data:

These paper files contain detailed data on all political ads that run on the channel, such as when they aired, who bought the time and how much they paid. It’s a transparency gold mine, allowing the public to see how campaigns and outside groups are influencing elections.

* In case you missed it: Rob Wildeboer’s outstanding WBEZ series on the costs of catching a case in Cook County.

* New report from the Woodstock Foundation on negative equity (i.e. being underwater) in the housing market:

Only about one-third of homeowners in communities of color have significant equity in their homes. In predominantly African American communities, 34.5 percent of borrowers have more than 25 percent equity in their homes, while 33.1 percent of borrowers in Latino communities have more than 25 percent equity in their homes. Fifty-five percent of borrowers in predominantly white communities have more than 25 percent equity.

Borrowers in communities of color have much higher average loan-to-value ratios than do borrowers in predominantly white communities. The average LTV ratio is 92.1 in predominantly African American communities and 87.4 in Latino communities, compared with an average LTV ratio of 67.7 in predominantly white communities.

* Chicago’s low voter turnout disappointed, but it was arguably more discouraging downstate.

* The American Planning Association challenges the role of growth in rescuing declining cities:

On the contrary, many local planning programs focus great attention on neighborhoods suffering from disinvestment and decline. However, the proposed solution for struggling communities almost invariably involves public investment to spur catalytic private development, with the ultimate goal of reigniting demand. This approach is perhaps best typified by the massive slum clearance initiatives of the urban renewal era or the arms race over state-of-the-art downtown sports stadiums in the decades that followed.

The fundamental problem with the classic, growth-oriented planning paradigm is that it simply doesn’t work for the hundreds, if not thousands, of cities in the U.S. who’ve suffered decades of depopulation and disinvestment due to sprawl, deindustrialization, or Sun Belt migration.

* Chicago’s behind not just SF but Boston, Seattle, and San Diego in producing patents.

* Technically, it’s data: composer and Anaphora co-founder Sarah J. Ritsch is offering up String Theory, featuring three of her compositions, at the Free Music Archive.

 

Photograph: ed_whetstone

Share

Advertisement

Submit your comment