Opening Chicago: In Year One, Open311 and ‘Apps for Metro Chicago’ will launch

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel released his final 2011 transition plan for Chicago today. Emanuel encouraged his followers on Twitter to visit to read a copy of the report (embedded below or downloadable as a PDF) and “share your thoughts” on it.

Of note to open government advocates: Page 14

5. Set high standards for open, participatory government to involve all Chicagoans

Why do this? Without access toinformation, Chicagoans cannoteffectively find services, build businesses, or understand how well City government is performing and hold it accountable for results. How will we do this? The City will pos ton-line and in easy-to-use formats the information that Chicagoans need most. For example, complete budget documents – currently only retrievable as massive PDF documents –will be available in straightforward and searchable formats.

The City’s web site will allow anyone to track and find information on lobbyists and what they are lobbying for as well as which government officials they have lobbied.The City will out-perform the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and publicly report delays and denials in providing access to public records.The City will also place on-line information about permitting, zoning,and business licenses, including status of applications and requests. And Chicagoans will be asked to participate in Open311, an easy and transparent means for all residents to submit and monitor service requests, such as potholes and broken street lights. Chicagoans will be invited to develop
their own “apps” to interpret and use City data in ways that most help the public.

What will be different?

100 Days: A searchable version of the City budget will be posted on-line, after a full review to ensure that its presentation is clear and easy to understand.

Year 1: Open311 and “Apps for Metro Chicago” will launch. Also a broad spectrum of new information will be made available to residents and business owners to enable them to track lobbying activity, as well as status of permits, licenses, and zoning change requests. Starting with the 2012budget, the budget document will be reformed, simplified, and tied to performance.

It should be an interesting first 100 days. The plan balanced good government, with transparency and accountability driven through technology, with an open innovation approach that embraces Open311 and a focus on open data.

Nick Clark Judd wrote up Mayor-elect Emanuel’s promises to open the #$%@ing government over at techPresident, observing that “Emanuel’s transition team also recommends consolidating city infrastructure — IT, vehicle fleets, et cetera — and collaborate with nonprofits and Cook County, the county that encompasses Chicago, to provide some services. This means the City of Chicago might stop providing some services, directing people to nonprofits or the county instead.”

Chicago 2011_Transition Plan

Alexander B. Howard is a DC-based a technology writer and editor. Previously, he was the Washington Correspondent at O'Reilly Media, where he covered the voices, technologies and issues that matter in the intersection of government, technology and society. If you're feeling social, you can follow him on Twitter, like him on Facebook or circle him on Google Plus In addition to corresponding for the O’Reilly Radar, he has contributed to the Huffington Post, Govfresh, Mashable, ReadWriteWeb, National Journal, The Atlantic, CBS News and Forbes. He graduated from Colby College with a bachelor's degree in biology and sociology. Currently, he is a resident of the District of Columbia, where he lives with his greyhound, wife, power tools, plants and growing collection of cast iron pans, many of which are frequently used to pursue his passion for good cooking.


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