New Orleans launches open government data site

Tonight, Denice W. Ross, director of applications for the city of New Orleans, tweeted the news that “NOLA” had soft launched an open data site. There’s not a lot of data there yet but it’s a great start. Data.NOLA.gov is beautifully designed and based upon the Socrata platform, which will give the embryonic site room to grow.

As Ross shared, New Orleans’ new open data site starts its life online with data on parcels, streets, building permits, council districts and census data. The site also has data on post-Hurricane damage assessment that some plucky civic developer or data journalist will likely mash up to good effect.

For those unfamiliar, open government data broadly refers to public sector records that have been made available to citizens. Putting up an open government data platform online is not in of itself a guarantor of more open government, responsive government or good government — but it can be a enabler for all those things, in partnership with public officials, nonprofits, developers, media and citizens.

For a canonical resource on what makes such releases truly “open,” consult the 8 principles of open government data.

I first encountered Ross last year, at the Gov 2.0 Expo in Washington. Ross, who was then affiliated with the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, gave a terrific talk about “An App We Can Trust: Lessons Learned in Post-Katrina New Orleans.” I’ve embedded it below.

UPDATE: As Leando Oliva shared, today was also the release of the sixth New Orleans Index. According to the Brooking Institute, the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center took on the publication of this index as a solo effort:

Download the Full Report » (PDF)
Download the Executive Summary » (PDF)
Download the Data Tables » (XLS)